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What was the attack on the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico, like, and what is known about the detainee?

The Slovak Prime Minister, Robert Ficois in serious condition after being shot several times this Wednesday in Slovakia, while talking with followers of his party outside a cultural center where a government meeting had been held.

“He has been shot multiple times and his life is currently in danger”notes Fico’s Facebook account, which indicates that he was transported by helicopter to the nearest town to receive medical help.

Where the attack occurred

The attack occurred in Handlová, east of Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, outside the house of culture, where the Council of Ministers held a meeting this Wednesday. After the attack, Fico was transferred by helicopter to the town of Banská Bystricaabout 65 kilometers from the site of the attack.

An infographic titled ''Slovak Prime Minister Fico injured after shooting'.
An infographic titled ”Slovak Prime Minister Fico injured after shooting’.
Anadolu via Getty Images

The transfer to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, was ruled out as being too far away, due to the urgency of the prime minister’s injuries.

What was the attack on Robert Fica like?

The first Minister left the building where the Government meeting had taken place. At that moment, he approached to greet a small group of citizens at the fences when he received between three and five gunshot wounds, causing wounds to his arms, legs and abdomen.

Image taken in the sequence of the attack on the Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico
Image taken in the sequence of the attack on the Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico
GETTY

The politician has suffered injuries to his extremities and, according to different versions in the media, to his chest or abdomen. Several eyewitnesses cited local media indicate that Fico had bloody wounds and that it was very serious when security services removed him from the scene.

Sequence after the shooting of Fico.
Sequence after the shooting of Fico.
RTVS/AFP via GETTY

In the images broadcast on television you can see how Fico He drags his feet when his bodyguards carry him almost in flight towards a car.

Image of the detainee after shooting the Prime Minister of Slovakia.
Image of the detainee after shooting the Prime Minister of Slovakia.
AFPTV via GETTY

The shooter is Juraj Cintula, a 71-year-old writer who opposes the government. According to local media, Cintula is a native of Levice, and is a member of the leftist Rainbow Literary Club. A writer of poems, he also worked as a security guard in a shopping center. Eight years ago he announced on the Internet that he was collecting signatures for the creation of the political party Hnutie proti nasiliu.

Reactions to the attack

One of the first reactions to the event has been that of the president of Slovakia, Zuzana Caputovawho in his official Facebook profile has transferred his “strong condemnation” for the attack against Fico, whom he wished a speedy recovery. “I am shocked,” said the Slovak president, whose ideology is contrary to that of the head of government.

On the other hand, the elected president of Slovakia, Peter Pellegrinihas been more forceful and on his social media profile he has launched a publication in which he has lamented that what happened “is a threat to everything that has adorned Slovak democracy until now”, and has acknowledged feeling horrified to know to what extent can carry political “hatred.”

“We don’t have to agree on everything, but there are many ways to express our disagreement democratically and legally”said Pellegrini, who in April won the presidential elections under the umbrella of the Voice-Social Democracy party, formed by a coalition between Fico’s Smer and the Slovak National Party.

“An assassination attempt on one of the highest constitutional officials is an unprecedented threat to Slovak democracy. If we express different political opinions with weapons in squares and not in polling stations, we jeopardize everything we have built together over the years. 31 years of Slovak sovereignty,” he added. Pellegrini was on vacation abroad but, due to recent events, he has brought forward his return to Slovakia.

On the other hand, Pellegrini’s rival in those presidential elections, the former Foreign Minister Ivan Korkok has demanded a thorough investigation into what happenedat the same time that he has called for “moderation” when launching statements of responsibility or accusations.

Fico was sworn in as Prime Minister of Slovakia at the end of October for the fourth time after his resignation in 2018when a series of protests occurred over the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak, who was investigating the activities of the Italian mafia in the country.

His appointment just over half a year ago was surrounded by controversy and criticism for its pro-Russian stance in the midst of the invasion of Ukraine. Fico assured that the new legislature would be marked by a “sovereign” foreign policy.

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