Slovak PM Robert Fico Expected To Survive; UK Media Appears To Justify Assassination Attempt

 Update(1840ET): Prime Minister Fico is said to be improving, following reports that he was in surgery due to several gunshot wounds from the Wednesday assassination attempt. Deputy Prime Minister Tomas Taraba has told the BBC he "is not in a life-threatening situation at this moment." 

"Fortunately, as far as I know, the operation went well – and I guess in the end he will survive," the statement indicated.

Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak has told reporters in a briefing that "there is no doubt" that the attack was a politically motivated assassination attempt. "The inability to accept the will of some part of the public, which some group does not like, is the result that they have worked towards today," he said in reference to Fico’s political opponents. A video is widely circulated of the detained suspect's interrogation wherein the man, identified as Juraj Cintula, confesses to saying he "disagreed" with his government's policies. 

Western media coverage of the attempted killing has been interesting to say the least. Fico was alongside Viktor Orban a dissenter when it comes to the NATO line on Ukraine.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald has commented, for example, "Listen to this Sky News report on the shooting of Robert Fico. Not only do they come close to justifying it because he opposes aid to Ukraine, but they also casually imply that he's being paid by the Kremlin. This casual accusation is so prevalent in the West, and toxic." The Sky segment in question which calls Fico "very pro-Russian" and that it's "not surprising" that the attack took place is below:

Update(1220ET): The identity of the shooter has been revealed in national media, and video of the actual moment the shots range out and PM Fico went down has emerged on some social media platforms.

Several local media reports, citing visuals and witnesses at the scene, report that the man who shot the Slovak PM is a writer and activist named Juraj Cintula.

While a clear motive has yet to be established, Cintula is said to be part of the pro-West and socially liberal "Progressive Slovakia" party.

Statements have poured in from Western leaders: "Shocked and appalled by the shooting of Prime Minister Robert Fico. I wish him strength for a speedy recovery. My thoughts are with Robert Fico, his loved ones, and the people of Slovakia," NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on X.

Photographs have emerged of the shooter being taken into custody. He also appears to be wounded or have suffered injury after being swiftly taken down by security...

And from Hungary's Orban:

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Wednesday expressed "deep shock" over the "heinous attack against my friend" Slovakia's premier Robert Fico, who was reportedly shot and hospitalised after a cabinet meeting.

"I was deeply shocked by the heinous attack against my friend, Prime Minister Robert Fico. We pray for his health and quick recovery! God bless him and his country!," the nationalist fellow EU leader wrote on X.

Meanwhile, Russian media and others have pointed out that Fico's most controversial stance concerned Ukraine and NATO funding. Sputnik has the below partial list of recent controversies centering on the Slovak PM:

  • Fico earned NATO’s ire after vowing to block the delivery of weapons to Ukraine during his latest run for office. Fico has also expressed dissatisfaction with Bratislava’s defense pact with Washington, promising to review it.
  • Fico has expressed fervent opposition to Ukraine’s membership in NATO, and said he believes Russia began its military operation as a result of neo-Nazis running rampant in Ukraine.
  • Fico has warned that Western military assistance to Ukraine will only prolong the crisis and increase the number of victims, and has accused foreign forces of meddling in the conflict, which “could have been extinguished at the very beginning.”
  • Fico believes anti-Russian sanctions have “negatively affected” the lives of ordinary Slovaks.
  • Fico has been bashed by European legacy media as a left-wing populist analogue of Hungarian right-wing populist Viktor Orban, with outlets pulling out all the stops to accuse him of “democratic backsliding” and “flouting European norms,” including over his push to reform the criminal code.
  • The Slovak PM has also made enemies with powerful European political and business interests, promising to launch an independent inquiry into the EU’s authoritarian pandemic-era policies.

* * *

Slovakia’s populist prime minister Robert Fico has been shot, according to breaking news reports, after which he was rushed to the hospital and appears to be alive according to early reports. But some reports have listed his condition as "very serious" and that he had to be airlifted.

According to emerging details in The Associated Press, Fico "was injured in a shooting and taken to hospital. The incident took place in the town of Handlova, some 150 kilometers northeast of the capital, according to the news television station TA3."

Slovakia’s prime minister Robert Fico, file image

Local authorities say that a suspect is in custody. The shooting happened in front of the House of Culture where a government meeting was taking place.

One eyewitness "saw the prime minister being lifted from the ground by security guards and loaded into a car and driven away."

Several people were greeting Fico and the moment the shots rang out, after which the prime minister fell to the ground. The would-be assassin was then taken by police. No details have been released as to the extent of his injuries.

Unconfirmed video of the immediate aftermath:

He has been outspoken against deepening Western involvement in the Ukraine war, for which he's made many enemies and critics among Western allies, and of course within Ukraine itself.

For example, here's how CNN last October described his ascendancy to prime minister and leader of the small NATO member state... "A party headed by a pro-Kremlin figure came out top after securing more votes than expected in an election in Slovakia, official results show, in what could pose a challenge to NATO and EU unity on Ukraine."

However, at this early point a motive is unknown.

A national outlet in Slovakia has reported the following unconfirmed details of his condition (machine translation):

According to the available information, which immediately began to spread, Prime Minister Robert Fico was hit by 2-3 wounds, allegedly in the limb, chest and abdomen. It is said that up to 4-5 shots should have been fired. According to information from the PLUS 7 DAYS weekly , someone from the crowd called out "Robo, come here" and the shooting started.

"It's a gunshot wound to the abdomen and arm. He's currently out of danger. They're going to operate on him," our well-informed source told us at 3:30 p.m.

Some conflicting reports say he may have been shot in the head.

Meanwhile, there is growing speculation that this could be connected to Fico's contrarian stance on Ukraine against the hawks in NATO, where he has only one other prominent ally...

developing...

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