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Continuing fears for Fico: “The next three to four days are crucial”

Continuing fears for Fico: “The next three to four days are crucial”

Prime Minister Robert Fico is being treated in this hospital in Banska Bystrica.

The 59-year-old remained in the intensive care unit of the University Hospital in Banska Bystrica on Thursday after a five-hour operation. A medical council is expected to decide on Monday about further action, such as a transfer to the capital Bratislava, said clinic director Miriam Lapunikova to the newspaper “Dennik N”.

Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak described Fico’s health condition as still serious on Thursday. The head of government was hit by four bullets and the injuries were very serious. “The doctors managed to stabilize the condition,” said Kalinak. But Fico is not yet out of danger. Lapunikova warned that the effects of the gunshot wounds could make recovery difficult. An experienced surgeon who is not part of the treatment team told “Dennik N” that the next three to four days are likely to be crucial.

  • More on the subject: Assassinations of politicians in Europe since 1990

“He was very tired”

After a short visit to the hospital, President-elect Peter Pellegrini reported that he was able to talk to Fico – but “he was very tired. It was not possible to talk to him for longer or about politics.” The elected president explained that a “red line” had been crossed with the attack. “The head of government escaped death by a hair’s breadth. It would have been enough if the gunshot wound or several gunshot wounds were a few centimeters further away, and we might have to talk about completely different things today.” Pellegrini also emphasized that the situation is still very critical.

If the head of government were to resign for health reasons, this would automatically bring down the entire government in accordance with the Slovak constitution. The fathers of the Basic Law do not seem to have taken into account the fact that a Prime Minister cannot continue his official duties because of an assassination attempt.

However, the change at the top of the government in 2018 could serve as a model. At that time, Fico resigned from his position under public pressure after the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak. The coalition parties agreed on Peter Pellegrini as their joint successor candidate, who was then appointed by the President. As long as Fico takes a break until he fully recovers, his deputies will continue to run the government – with Kalinak first in line.

Perpetrator described as a “lone wolf”.

Criminal investigations into attempted murder have been launched against the suspected attacker. It is a 71-year-old from the small town of Levice. Interior Minister Matus Sustaj Estok said the man was a “lone wolf” who was dissatisfied with political developments in Slovakia. However, he is not a member of a radicalized political group, neither right-wing nor left-wing.

  • Read more in the editorial “Where the violence begins”

Attention is now also focused on possible failures in security measures in the small town of Handlova, where the shooting occurred after a cabinet meeting when Fico wanted to shake hands with supporters gathered at a fence. The authorities are examining whether his bodyguards did not adequately protect the head of government or whether incidents of this kind are simply difficult to prevent in an open society. Several experts criticized the security precautions on site or even spoke of a “failure”. Some media also raised the question of how a video of the alleged attacker, apparently recorded at a police station – possibly even by an officer – could have been made public.

Meanwhile, outgoing President Zuzana Caputova and her elected successor Pellegrini invited the political parties to joint talks. “Let us get out of the vicious circle of hatred and mutual accusations,” appealed Caputova in Bratislava. Pellegrini called on the parties to temporarily suspend or at least limit their election campaign before the European elections on June 9th. In the neighboring country of the Czech Republic, the unions canceled a day of protest with demonstrations planned for May 21st out of consideration for the situation in Slovakia.

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Source: Nachrichten

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