Suspect Charged in Attempted Assassination of Slovakia Leader

( – Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico was in Handlova for a government meeting on May 15. He was greeting a crowd afterward when a gunman suddenly appeared and shot him. The PM is now recovering and the suspected shooter is under arrest.

Authorities arrested 71-year-old Juraj Cintula the day after the shooting. They described the attack as politically motivated but said he was a “lone wolf.” He’s charged with attempted premeditated murder. Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok asked journalists to consider how they cover the 59-year-old prime minister’s policies in the future.

The shooting unfolded in broad daylight. Cintula was reportedly waiting at a barrier that was containing the crowd. As Fico approached the suspect, he pulled out a gun and shot him repeatedly. Security swiftly carried the PM to a car and whisked him away for treatment. His condition was life-threatening afterward. Fico underwent multiple surgeries after the shooting and is recovering, but is still in serious condition.

Fico is a pro-Russia, anti-American politician. His policies have divided the small nation that borders Ukraine. Slovakia is a member of the European Union and NATO, but his rhetoric has left other nations concerned that he’s going to abandon his country’s pro-Western policies.

At the beginning of Russia’s invasion, Slovakia was one of Ukraine’s biggest allies. However, when Fico returned to power in 2023, he stopped delivering weapons to the Ukrainian military. Thousands of demonstrators have protested the prime minister in recent months and he tries to limit free speech in his country by trying to seize control of public radio and television, much like Vladimir Putin has done in Russia. There are concerns that he’s trying to turn the democratic nation into an autocracy.

The government has not released a lot of information about the suspect. Media reports claim he was upset about Fico’s policies and had recently attended an anti-government protest.

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