Slovak PM’s condition ‘remains very serious’ – deputy

Robert Fico was hospitalized with gunshot wounds this week

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico remains in serious condition after surviving an assassination attempt, his deputy Robert Kalinak said on Saturday. 

Fico was attacked on Wednesday in the central Slovak city of Handlova. When he approached a group of spectators, one person pulled out a handgun and shot the politician multiple times at close range. Fico was immediately rushed to the hospital, and the assailant was detained on the spot. 

Kalinak, who also serves as defense minister, spoke to the news channel TA3 outside the Roosevelt Hospital in Banska Bystrica, where Fico is being treated. He remained cautiously optimistic about the prime minister’s recovery. 

“He is in stable condition, but the four gunshot wounds have caused extensive injuries,” Kalinak said. He added that Fico had undergone additional surgery, and that there still could be complications. “In any case, his condition is very serious.”

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Kalinak said that he had a brief conversation with the prime minister in the hospital, and thanked the doctors and the Slovak public to their support. “I ask everyone for a little bit more patience and a strong belief that everything will turn from bad to good,” he said. 

The authorities identified the suspect as a 71-year-old former security guard named Juraj Cintula. He was placed in pre-detention on Saturday. 

Although the suspect’s exact motives remain unclear, the government believes that the attack was politically motivated. Many leading politicians have linked the assassination attempt to “hateful rhetoric” and the politically charged climate in the country.

Fico is a polarizing figure in the EU due to his position regarding the conflict in Ukraine. The politician has repeatedly urged against further escalation with Russia and suspended the deliveries of weapons to Kiev.

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