Slovakia: PM Fico’s life no longer in danger after shooting, minister says

Prime Minister Robert Fico remains in serious condition but his life is no longer in danger, Slovak officials say.

A supporter holds a flag of Slovakia near the FD Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is hospitalised following an assassination attempt, in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia [Bernadett Szabo/Reuters]

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s life is no longer in danger following an assassination attempt, Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak has said.

“He has emerged from the immediate threat to his life, but his condition remains serious and he requires intensive care,” Kalinak, Fico’s closest political ally, told reporters on Sunday.

A gunman shot Fico multiple times last week in an attack that sent shock waves around the world, and government officials had said his life was in danger.

The incident took place as the Slovak leader was greeting supporters after a government meeting in the central town of Handlova.

Fico underwent a five-hour operation on the same day he was shot, as well as a second procedure on Friday at a hospital in the central city of Banska Bystrica.

“We can consider his condition stable with a positive prognosis,” Kalinak said outside the hospital, adding, “We all feel a bit more relaxed now.” Kalinak noted that Fico would stay at Banska Bystrica for the time being.

The shooting was the first major assassination attempt on a European political leader in more than 20 years.

The suspected gunman, identified by Slovak media as a 71-year-old poet and former security guard, has been charged with premeditated attempted murder and was ordered held in custody at a hearing on Saturday.

Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said officials are investigating the possibility that the suspect may not have been a “lone wolf” as previously believed.

The attack raised alarm over the polarised state of politics in the central European country of 5.4 million people.

The 59-year-old Fico took office in October after his centrist populist Smer party won a general election.

He is serving his fourth term as prime minister after campaigning on proposals for peace between Russia and Slovakia’s neighbour Ukraine, and to halt military aid to Kyiv, which his government has done.

According to Estok, the suspect was angered by the government’s Ukraine policy.

Fico leads a coalition comprised of Smer, the centrist HLAS and the small nationalist SNS party.

Kalinak, the deputy prime minister, said the government would carry on without Fico “according to the programme he has outlined”.

Outgoing Slovak President Zuzana Caputova and her successor Peter Pellegrini, a Fico ally who takes over in June, tried to quell the political tensions after last week’s attack.

Following a proposal by Caputova and Pellegrini, several parties have suspended campaigning for European Parliament elections scheduled for June.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies