Assassination attempt on Slovak Prime Minister Fico: A shock with a history

As of: May 16, 2024 4:00 a.m

The Slovakian Prime Minister Fico was critically injured in an assassination attempt. The government assumes that the act was politically motivated. Experts interpret the act as a tragic escalation of polarization in the country.

The video of the suspected shooter is already making the rounds a few hours after the assassination attempt on Slovakian Prime Minister Fico.

He doesn’t agree with the government’s policies, says a quiet voice. Why is public broadcasting being attacked? she asks. Slovak media reports on a leaked police interrogation – allegedly with a 71-year-old amateur writer and ex-employee of a private security service from the west of the country.

The government speaks of a politically motivated act

“There is no doubt that the attack had a political background,” said Defense Minister Robert Kalinak, a close confidant of Prime Minister Robert Fico. “We have experienced a truly tragic day in which the head of government of Slovakia is fighting for survival.”

According to Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok, the perpetrator fired five shots at Fico, one of which hit him in the stomach. The police will now increase protective measures for politicians, but also for journalists. “I address the public, all journalists, all politicians: let’s stop spreading hate that is directed against one political camp or another.”

All protests and Events cancelled

The Russia-friendly Prime Minister Fico has been back in office since October, for the fourth time, with a more moderate left-wing government partner and a small right-wing nationalist party. Since then, the liberal pro-European opposition has seen the rule of law and freedom of the press at risk. She regularly organizes anti-government protests.

On the day of the attack, she wanted to demonstrate against the planned abolition of public media. But now most parties have canceled all protests and events before the European elections in Slovakia until further notice.

Security forces detain the suspected perpetrator after the attack.

Not all episodes call for reconciliation

The outgoing president, the liberal Zuzana Caputova, who has often been verbally attacked by Fico, condemns the attack – as do politicians from all opposition parties. They called for reconciliation.

A part of the Fico camp, on the other hand, is intensifying the rhetoric, such as the deputy leader of the Fico party, Lubos Blaha. “I condemn in the strongest possible terms what happened today,” said Blaha. “But at the same time I express my deep disgust at what the liberal media has done in recent years, including the political opposition. They have fomented hatred towards Fico. They have put him on the gallows.”

Slovak society is extremely polarized

The assassination attempt on Robert Fico is the first on a politician in the history of Slovakia. Political scientist Miroslav Radek describes it as a collective shock.

“However, this shock also has a history: I remember 2018, the murder of the journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée,” says Radek. “I remember the hatred of some politicians for journalists. I remember the double murder in front of a queer bar in Bratislava in 2022. These are all consequences of the tense atmosphere. Our society is more polarized than ever before.”

Marianne Allweiss, tagesschau, May 16, 2024 12:25 a.m

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