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Slovak PM has new surgery, condition ‘still very serious’

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is being treated in a hospital in Banska Bystrica
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is being treated in a hospital in Banska Bystrica - Copyright AFP Ferenc ISZA
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is being treated in a hospital in Banska Bystrica - Copyright AFP Ferenc ISZA
David STOUT

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s condition was on Friday “still very serious” two days after an attempted assassination, his deputy and close ally said, as police raided the suspect’s home.

Fico was hospitalised after the shooting on Wednesday, which happened as the 59-year-old leader was speaking to members of the public after a meeting in the central town of Handlova.

“He was operated on again, he had an almost two-hour-long operation,” deputy prime minister Robert Kalinak told reporters outside the hospital in Banska Bystrica.

Fico had previously undergone a five-hour-long surgery, shortly after being airlifted from the scene of the attack on Wednesday. 

“His state is still very serious. I think it would take a couple of days to see the course of the development of his state,” Kalinak added on Friday.

The Banska Bystrica hospital director said Fico remained “conscious” despite being in a “serious” condition. 

Earlier on Friday, local media reported that Slovak police had searched the home of the man charged with the shooting.

Officers brought along the alleged gunman, who was wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet, to the apartment he shared with his wife in the western town of Levice, Markiza TV footage showed.

“Police stayed in the apartment for several hours… They took the computer and documents out of the apartment,” the private broadcaster said.

– ‘Lone wolf’ –

Police, who told AFP they would not comment on an ongoing investigation, have not named the suspect but media have identified him as 71-year-old writer Juraj Cintula.

He was charged on Thursday with attempted murder with premeditation in what the authorities have called a politically motivated attack.

“This is a lone wolf whose actions were accelerated after the presidential election since he was dissatisfied with its outcome,” Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said.

The attack has stoked fears of further violence and instability in the politically polarised nation, just weeks before European Parliament elections.

Officials drew a link to the political situation in the country, with its political scene marred by disinformation and attacks on social media during recent election campaigns.

Slovak president-elect Peter Pellegrini, who won an election in April, on Wednesday urged the political parties to suspend or reduce campaigning before the EU vote.

The biggest opposition party, centrist Progressive Slovakia, and others announced that they had done so.

Fico, a four-time premier and political veteran, returned to office in October.

Since then, he has made a string of remarks that have soured ties between Slovakia and neighbouring Ukraine after he questioned the country’s sovereignty.

After he was elected, Slovakia stopped sending weapons to Ukraine, invaded by Russia in 2022.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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