Why did they try to kill the prime minister of Slovakia? This we know

(CNN) — Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico was the victim of an assassination attempt after being shot several times on Wednesday following a government meeting.

Fico was shot five times and was rushed to the hospital to treat his injuries, which were initially life-threatening. After being in surgery for more than three hours, the Slovak Prime Minister “came out fine” and his life was no longer in danger for the moment.

The attack took place after a government meeting in the central Slovak town of Handlova. The alleged attacker was among a small crowd of people waiting to greet the prime minister on the street in front of the cultural center where the meeting took place, local media reported.

Security officers carry Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico in a car after the attack in Handlova on May 15, 2024. (Credit: Radovan Stoklasa/Reuters)

What were the attacker’s motives for trying to murder Fico? This is what the authorities say.

“Political motives”, “attack on democracy”, “hate speech”

Slovakia’s Defense Minister Robert Kaliňák and the country’s Interior Minister Matúš Šutaj Eštok said the attack was “politically motivated.”

Šutaj Eštok commented that “the suspect made the decision to do so shortly after the presidential elections.”

Slovakia’s president, Zuzana Čaputová, said the alleged attacker was detained by police.

Čaputová condemned what she called a “brutal and reckless” attack on 59-year-old Fico. At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, she commented that the shooting was “also an attack on democracy.”

Fico is the most powerful politician in Slovakia. Unlike the president, whose role has a limited scope, the prime minister has the rank of head of government with decision-making capacity.

Defense Minister Robert Kalinak (left) and Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok (right) speak to media at the FD Roosevelt Teaching Hospital with Banska Bystrica Polyclinic, where the Prime Minister of Slovakia , Robert Fico, was transported with life-threatening injuries on May 15, 2024 in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia. (Credit: Zuzana Gogova/Getty Images)

Defense Minister Robert Kalinak and Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok speak to media on May 15, 2024 in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia. (Credit: Zuzana Gogova/Getty Images)

Kaliňák and Šutaj Eštok further blamed growing hate speech and division on the political atmosphere in the country, which they said led to the assassination attempt.

At a press conference in front of the hospital where Fico is being treated, Kaliňák said: “Hate is not a response to hate.” Visibly shaken and struggling for words at several points during the conference, Kaliňák noted that it was “time for some people to take a hard look in the mirror.”

“There is no doubt that this was politically motivated. The inability to accept people’s choice, which some may not like…leads to this,” she added.

“Disagreement with the government”

Šutaj-Eštok stated that the suspect in the attempted assassination of the Slovak Prime Minister said that his action was motivated by his disagreement with the government on several issues.

“The reasons were the decision to abolish the special prosecutor’s office, the decision to stop providing military aid to Ukraine, the reform of the public broadcasting service and the dismissal of the head of the judicial council,” Šutaj-Eštok said.

He said the suspect is not a member of any extremist group, calling him a “lone wolf who decided to act after the presidential election” and that he had attended anti-government protests in the past.

The reforms proposed and implemented by the Fico government have greatly divided Slovakia and triggered weeks of massive but completely peaceful protests.

Suspected attacker charged with attempted murder

Security personnel detain a suspected attacker after Slovakia's prime minister was shot in Handlova, Slovakia, on May 15, 2024. (Credit: AFP via Getty Images)

Security personnel detain a suspected attacker after Slovakia’s prime minister was shot in Handlova, Slovakia, on May 15, 2024. (Credit: AFP via Getty Images)

The suspect in the shooting of Slovakia’s prime minister on Wednesday has been charged with attempted murder, according to the country’s interior minister.

“I want to confirm that the Police are working with only one theory of investigation and that the suspect was charged with attempted murder,” Šutaj-Eštok said at a press conference on Thursday.

The Slovak government has not named the suspect.

With reporting by CNN’s Ivana Kottasová, Sugam Pokharel, Zahid Mahmood, Jessie Yeung.

 
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