Slovakia's prime minister in stable but 'very serious' condition after assassination attempt

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico walks during the European Council summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on April 18, 2024. 

Kenzo Tribouillard | Afp | Getty Images

Slovakia’s populist Prime Minister Robert Fico is in a stable but “very serious” condition following surgery after an assassination attempt, a health official said Thursday.

“His condition stabilized, but it is truly very serious, and therefore he will actually be in the intensive care unit on the premises of the general hospital, where he will be cared for by the team and the entire team of doctors that he will need,” Miriam Lapunikova, director of the F.D. Roosevelt University Hospital in Banska Bystrica where Fico is under care, said Thursday, according to a Reuters video.

She added that Fico underwent a five-hour surgery conducted by two medical teams. He suffered “multiple gunshot wounds, the consequences of which will affect his recovery,” she said.

Slovakian Deputy Prime Minister Tomas Taraba had also indicated that Fico was no longer in a life-threatening condition.

“Fortunately, as far as I know, the operation went well, and I guess that at the end he will survive,” Taraba told BBC Newshour. “At this moment, the state of the operation should be that he’s not in a life-threatening situation.”

CNBC has reached out to Slovakia’s Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Suspect charged

Fico, 59, was gravely wounded on Wednesday after being shot multiple times following a political event in the Slovak town of Handlova. He was transported by helicopter to a nearby hospital in Banska Bystrica for emergency treatment, according to his official Facebook page.

A suspect in the assassination attempt, who acted alone and previously participated in anti-government protests, has been charged, Reuters cited Slovakian Minister of the Interior Matúš Šutaj Eštok as saying on Thursday. He added that the individual had listed government policies on prosecution and media as the reasons behind the attack.

Previously, the minister had described the shooting as a “politically motivated attempt,” according to translated video footage carried by Sky News.

Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova had reported that police detained a suspect linked to the incident on Wednesday in a social media update.

Fico has served as prime minister of Slovakia for around 10 years across three mandates, heading the Smer (Direction) party. He most recently assumed the post following parliamentary elections in 2023 and in October pledged to stop military support for Ukraine and to no longer endorse further sanctions against Russia, Reuters reported.

His administration has also proposed a contentious overhaul and state takeover of public broadcaster RTVS, and a highly controversial amendment to the country’s penal code that would, among other measures, eliminate the special prosecutors’ office that oversees serious crimes.  

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