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Live Updates: Slovakia’s Prime Minister in ‘Life-Threatening’ Condition After Shooting

Matthew Mpoke Bigg

Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot and significantly wounded on Wednesday.Credit score…Vladimir Simicek/Agence France-Presse — Getty Photos

Robert Fico, 59, has performed a pivotal position in Slovakian politics within the years because it gained independence in 1993 and has served as prime minister longer than some other chief.

The nation gained independence amid the so-called Velvet Revolution, a collection of widespread and nonviolent protests towards the Communist Get together in what was at the moment nonetheless Czechoslovakia.

Mr. Fico, who had been a Communist Get together member whereas it was in energy, based the Smer social gathering within the late 1990s and started the primary of his three phrases as prime minister in 2006. Slovakia is a landlocked nation of round 5 million folks.

The Smer social gathering, which began out on the political left however has more and more embraced right-wing views on immigration and cultural points, has at all times ruled as a part of a coalition. A lot of the worldwide concentrate on Mr. Fico’s management in recent times has targeted on his ties to President Vladimir Putin of Russia and to Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, Slovakia’s southern neighbor.

Mr. Fico resigned as prime minister in July 2018 following mass demonstrations over the homicide of a journalist, Jan Kuciak, and his fiancée, Martina Kusnirova, who had been uncovering authorities corruption. The protests, which rocked the nation, had been the most important seen for the reason that Velvet Revolution; demonstrators demanded the resignation of the federal government and new elections.

Slovakia ranks excessive in independent assessments of press freedom, however the protesters had additionally sought deeper modifications within the nation Mr. Fico had overseen.

He returned to energy in an election final fall, forming a coalition authorities after securing round 23 % of the vote, having campaigned towards sanctions that had been imposed on Russia after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022. Not one spherical of the nation’s ammunition ought to be despatched to Ukraine, he had informed voters.

That stance, in a rustic the place pro-Russian sentiment had traditionally been important, fearful E.U. leaders in Brussels, who stated they feared that Slovakia may type a pro-Russian alliance with Mr. Orban and, doubtlessly, Italy’s chief, Georgia Meloni, that may impede assist for Ukraine within the European Union. On the time, it was additionally seen as an indication of the obvious erosion of the pro-Ukrainian bloc that Europe had shaped after the invasion.

In April, an ally of Mr. Fico, Peter Pellegrini, won a vote to turn into Slovakia’s president. The place is basically ceremonial, however analysts stated the victory strengthened the grip of political forces pleasant to Russia in Central Europe, provided that Mr. Pellegrini opposed offering navy and monetary support to Ukraine.

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