Slovak PM Robert Fico says could return to work ‘in several weeks’

In first public speech since surviving assassination attempt, Fico says he feels ‘no hatred’ towards his attacker.

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Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico addresses the nation for the first time after the shooting, before the European Parliament election, in Bratislava, Slovakia [Screengrab via Reuters]

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico has posted a speech online, his first appearance since he was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt three weeks ago.

In a prerecorded speech on his Facebook page on Wednesday, ahead of the European Parliament election, Fico said the attack caused serious damage to his health and that “it will be a small miracle if I return to work in several weeks”.

Fico has been recovering from multiple wounds after being shot in the abdomen as he greeted supporters on May 15 in the town of Handlova, about 140km (87 miles) northeast of the capital, Bratislava.

The attacker, identified by prosecutors as 71-year-old Juraj C, was arrested on the spot and charged with attempted premeditated murder.

Seemingly in good shape as he spoke, Fico pledged to be back at work at the end of June or beginning of July, and said he felt “no hatred” towards his attacker.

“I forgive him,” he said, adding he planned no legal action against the assailant.

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Supporters bring flowers and gifts as they gather near the FD Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was hospitalised following an assassination attempt, in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia [File: Bernadett Szabo/Reuters]

Still, he slammed the opposition and others, saying: “After all, it’s evident that he only was a messenger of evil and political hatred.”

Fico suggested that his views of Russia’s war on Ukraine and other issues that sharply differ from the European mainstream had made him a victim.

Fico was released from hospital in the central city of Banska Bystrica last week, and taken to his home in Bratislava, where he continues to recuperate.

A video of the attack shows him approach people gathered at barricades and reach out to shake hands as a man steps forward, extends his arm and fires five rounds before being tackled and arrested.

Fico immediately underwent a five-hour surgery, followed by another two-hour surgery two days later.

The incident has highlighted the deep polarisation of politics in the central European country of 5.4 million people.

Opposition parties have led protests against Fico’s government as it shifts policy by stopping military aid to Ukraine, ending a special prosecutor’s office despite rule of law concerns, and revamping the state television and radio broadcaster.

Source: News Agencies