Slovakian Head of Intensive Care After an Assassination Attempt - Latest Global News

Slovakian Head of Intensive Care After an Assassination Attempt

(Bloomberg) – Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was treated in a “very serious” but stable condition in intensive care, a day after he was shot in what the government called a politically motivated assassination attempt.

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The first such attack on a European leader in more than 20 years has sent shockwaves through one of the continent’s most polarized countries, highlighting the inflammatory politics that have prevailed since the pandemic and are amplified by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“His condition has stabilized for now,” Defense Secretary Robert Kalinak, one of the prime minister’s closest allies, told reporters on Thursday. “Unfortunately, given the complexity of the wounds, the condition remains very serious, but we all want to be confident that we will manage the situation.”

The 59-year-old Fico was shot at at close range by a 71-year-old attacker during a public appearance northeast of the capital on Wednesday. Slovakia’s Security Council and cabinet members were due to meet in Bratislava to discuss the consequences.

Fico underwent a five-hour operation in the town of Banska Bystrica to treat “multiple” gunshot wounds and is being cared for by a team of doctors, hospital director Miriam Lapunikova told reporters.

“Political War”

Peter Pellegrini, a Fico coalition ally who will take office as president next month, called on political parties to stop campaigning for June’s European Parliament election, which has become vicious in the country of 5.4 million is.

“At least pause your campaign until the situation calms down and we know more about the investigation into this heinous act,” the president-elect told reporters in Bratislava.

While Fico is in hospital, the head of government’s power passes to his four deputies, although one of them can be brought in as interim leader while the prime minister is incapacitated. Fico’s three-party coalition has a comfortable majority in parliament.

Slovakia’s bonds, which tend to be illiquid, remained largely unchanged after the attack – evidence that the country is protected from market volatility by its membership in the euro zone.

Fico, Slovakia’s most dominant political figure since the country joined the European Union 20 years ago, returned to power last year as an opposition force against the EU institutions in Brussels. But his Russia-friendly stance has put him at odds with his partners and threatens to undermine the EU’s unity in aid to Ukraine. At home, Fico has used his power to restrict media freedom and reform the judiciary.

Read more: Shooting of Slovakia’s prime minister brutally exposes political divide

Shortly after the shooting, political acrimony erupted, with Fico’s allies blaming the opposition and the “liberal” media. Andrej Danko, the leader of the Slovak National Party, which governs in a coalition with Fico, vowed to “start a political war.”

Outgoing Slovak President Zuzana Caputova called for calm after a politician who branded her an “American agent” was shot dead.

“As a society, we live in a time of much conflict, but please let us not bring this to the level of hate,” Caputova said Thursday.

It was the first shooting of a European head of state or government since the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in March 2003. The pro-European reformer, who campaigned against organized crime in the Balkan state, was shot dead in central Belgrade.

Since returning to power, the Slovak leader has sparked nationwide protests against the rewriting of the criminal code and the abolition of a special prosecutor’s office to combat serious crime and corruption. Last month he criticized the country’s media for its hostility to the government as his Cabinet proposed tighter controls over public television and radio.

– With support from Peter Laca, Andras Gergely and Mark Sweetman.

(Updates with comments from new and outgoing presidents beginning in the sixth paragraph.)

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