Slovakia's populist prime minister shot in assassination attempt, shocking Europe before election : The Tribune India

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Slovakia's populist prime minister shot in assassination attempt, shocking Europe before election

PM Modi condemns assassination attempt as cowardly

Slovakia's populist prime minister shot in assassination attempt, shocking Europe before election

A man aims a handgun at Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico as he was approaching people after a Slovak government meeting in Handlova, Slovakia, on Wednesday, Reuters



AP

Banska Bystrica (Slovakia), May 16

Slovakia's populist Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot multiple times and gravely wounded on Wednesday, but his deputy prime minister said he believed Fico would survive.

The prime minister had been greeting supporters at an event when the attempted assassination took place, shocking the small country and reverberating across Europe weeks before an election.

“I guess in the end he will survive,” Tomas Taraba told the BBC, adding: “He's not in a life-threatening situation at this moment.”

Doctors fought for Fico's life several hours after the pro-Russian leader (59), was hit in the abdomen, Defence Minister Robert Kalina told reporters at the hospital where Fico was being treated.

Five shots were fired outside a cultural centre in the town of Handlova, nearly 140 km northeast of the capital, government officials said. Fico was shot while attending a meeting of his government in the town of 16,000 that was once a centre of coal mining.

A suspect was in custody, and an initial investigation found “a clear political motivation” behind the assassination attempt, Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said as he briefed reporters alongside the defence minister.

Fico has long been a divisive figure in Slovakia and beyond, but his return to power last year on a pro-Russian, anti-American message led to even greater worries among fellow European Union members that he would lead his country further from the Western mainstream.

Kicking off his fourth term as prime minister, his government halted arms deliveries to Ukraine, and critics worry that he will lead Slovakia — a nation of 5.4 million that belongs to NATO — to abandon its pro-Western course and follow in the footsteps of Hungary under populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Thousands have repeatedly rallied in the capital and across Slovakia to protest Fico's policies.

A message posted to Fico's Facebook account said he was taken to a hospital in Banská Bystrica, 29 km from Handlova, because it would take too long to get to the capital, Bratislava.

The attack comes as political campaigning heats up three weeks ahead of Europe-wide elections to choose lawmakers for the European Parliament. Concern is mounting that populists and nationalists similar to Fico could make gains in the 27-member bloc.

But politics as usual were put aside as the nation faced the shock of the attempt on Fico's life. 

PM Modi condemns assassination attempt on Slovakian leader as cowardly

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed shock on Thursday at the assassination attempt on his Slovakian counterpart Robert Fico, and condemned it as a cowardly and dastardly act.

In a post on 'X', Modi said, "Deeply shocked at the news of the shooting at Slovakia's Prime Minister, H.E. Mr. Robert Fico. I strongly condemn this cowardly and dastardly act and wish PM Fico a speedy recovery. India stands in solidarity with the people of the Slovak Republic." PTI

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