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Business News/ News / World/  Who is Robert Fico? Top 12 things you need to know about Slovakia's prime minister who was shot

Who is Robert Fico? Top 12 things you need to know about Slovakia's prime minister who was shot

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot multiple times in an assassination attempt in the town of Handlova in Slovakia. Fico, a former Communist Party member, has served as Prime Minister multiple times and has faced criticism for his pro-Russian policies and attacks on journalists.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico greets people before a shooting incident where he was wounded, in Handlova, Slovakia on May 15 (Reuters / Radovan Stoklasa)Premium
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico greets people before a shooting incident where he was wounded, in Handlova, Slovakia on May 15 (Reuters / Radovan Stoklasa)

Slovakia’s populist Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot and injured in an assassination attempt on May 15 in the town of Handlova in Slovakia. He was rushed to a hospital and underwent surgery, according to media reports. 

His deputy prime minister, Tomas Taraba, told the BBC that Fico is expected to survive, stating, “he’s not in a life-threatening situation at this moment."

The assailant, identified by Slovakian media as Juraj Cintula, a 71-year-old poet, attempted to assassinate PM Robert Fico. European media outlet Nexta reported that Cintula was a former employee of a private security company and author of a poetry collection, as cited by local TV channel Markiza.

Fico, a four-time prime minister and political veteran, is accused of swaying Slovakia's foreign policy in favour of the Kremlin. 

What Happened?

Fico was reportedly hit in the stomach after four shots were fired outside the House of Culture in the town of Handlova, where he had held a meeting. The police detained the suspect and sealed off the crime scene.

An official message on the prime minister's Facebook page stated, “Today an attempt was made on R Fico's life. He was shot several times and is currently in a life-threatening condition. At the moment, he is being taken by helicopter to Banská Bystrica, as the road to Bratislava would take too long due to the need for urgent surgery. The next few hours will be crucial."

Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Joe Biden, and several other world leaders have condemned the attempted assassination of Fico, describing the attack as monstrous and horrific.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed shock on May 16 at the news of the shooting.

Here are the top 12 things to know about Robert Fico

- Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot multiple times after a political event on Wednesday afternoon in the central town of Handlova, Slovakia.  

- Fico, 59, was born in 1964 in what was then Czechoslovakia.

- He joined the Communist Party before the fall of communism, earned a law degree in 1986, and was first elected to Slovakia's parliament in 1992 with the Party of the Democratic Left.

- During the 1990s, Fico served as a governmental agent representing Slovakia before the European Court of Human Rights and the European Commission of Human Rights.

- In 1999, he became chairman of the Smer (Direction) party and has been a key figure in it ever since. People often describe Fico and Smer as left-populists, though some have also compared him to right-wing politician Viktor Orbán, Hungary's Prime Minister.

- Fico returned to power in Slovakia last year, previously serving as prime minister from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018. His third term made him Slovakia’s longest-serving head of government. Slovakia is a member of the European Union and NATO.

- After five years in opposition, Fico’s party won last year’s parliamentary elections on a pro-Russian and anti-American platform. Fico promised to end Slovakia’s military support to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion, arguing that NATO and the United States provoked the conflict.

- Following his election victory, his government immediately stopped arms deliveries to Ukraine. Thousands protested against Fico’s pro-Russian policies and other initiatives, such as plans to amend the penal code and take control of public media.

- Fico’s return raised concerns among critics about Slovakia’s pro-Western direction, as he vowed to pursue a “sovereign" foreign policy, tough immigration laws, and campaigned against LGBTQ rights.

- He was known for his attacks on journalists and faced criminal charges in 2022 for allegedly creating a criminal group and for misuse of power.

- In 2018, Fico and his government resigned following the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée. Kuciak had been reporting on tax-related crimes involving high-level politicians.

- Fico is married and has one child.

(With inputs from AP)

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Published: 16 May 2024, 08:48 AM IST
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