Who Masterminded the Assassination Attempt on Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico?

In a stunning turn of events on May 15, 2024, Handlová, Slovakia was rocked by a shocking incident. Robert Fico, the Prime Minister of Slovakia, was critically wounded in an assassination attempt. The attack unfolded in front of the town’s House of Culture following a government meeting. Fico was swiftly rushed to a hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery and was stabilized.

Assassination Attempt on Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico
Photo: Twitter

Background

Robert Fico, serving his fourth term as prime minister since his election in the 2023 Slovak parliamentary election, led the left-wing Smer party. Known for his populist stance, Fico campaigned on policies such as ceasing military aid to Ukraine and advocating for closer ties with Russia. He also voiced criticisms against the United States, campaigned against migration, non-governmental organizations, and LGBTQ+ rights.

At the time of the assassination attempt, Fico’s government was in the process of introducing measures to abolish a special anti-graft prosecutor role and to exert more control over the public broadcaster RTVS.

The Incident

At around 14:50 CEST (UTC+02:00) on May 15, 2024, tragedy struck Baníkov Square (Slovak: Námestie Baníkov) in Handlová. After a government gathering at the House of Culture, Prime Minister Robert Fico was engaging with citizens in the square, shaking hands with the crowd. Suddenly, amidst the interaction, a man in the crowd yelled, “Robo, pojď sem!” (English: “Robo, come here!”), then fired a shot at close range. Fico’s quick-thinking bodyguards swiftly apprehended the alleged assailant, as police secured the area. Three other ministers were promptly escorted away from the scene, ensuring their safety.

Fico was swiftly ushered into a waiting car by his security team and rushed to Handlová Hospital, from where he was later airlifted to F.D. Roosevelt Hospital in Banská Bystrica. Remarkably, an interior ministry official reported that Fico remained conscious throughout the transportation process. The assailant had fired five shots from a handgun, with two hitting Fico in his abdomen and one in his shoulder, resulting in critical injuries that posed a grave threat to his life.

The Suspect

Police swiftly detained the suspect at the scene, identifying him as Juraj Cintula, known as a poet and writer. However, the motive behind the assassination attempt remains unclear, leaving authorities and the public puzzled as they search for answers.

Suspect Juraj Cintula detained for shooting Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico
Suspect Juraj Cintula detained for shooting Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico is from the town of Levice. Photo: Reuters

Aftermath

A day following the assassination attempt, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s condition has stabilized, though it remains “very serious,” according to his deputy, Robert Kalinak. Fico, who was re-elected to power in Slovakia just last year, continues to receive medical care as the nation awaits further updates on his recovery.

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