Slovakia’s Fico awake but remains in serious condition after shooting

Prime minister undergoes second surgery after being shot five times in attempted assassination earlier this week

Slovak prime minister Robert Fico regained consciousness after a second surgery on Friday but was still in a “serious” condition two days after he was shot multiple times in an assassination attempt, officials said.

Deputy prime minister Robert Kalinak said surgeons had carried out a second operation and that it would take several days to establish whether Mr Fico would recover from the close-range shooting.

“I see progress,” Mr Kalinak said after visiting the premier in hospital following the attempt on his life, the first against a sitting leader of an EU country in more than 20 years.

Mr Fico was shot while meeting supporters in the central Slovak city of Handlova on Wednesday. Authorities apprehended a 71-year-old suspect at the scene and have charged him with attempted murder, which they said was politically motivated.


The premier was rushed to a hospital in nearby Banska Bystrica where he underwent a five-hour emergency operation.

The director of the hospital, Miriam Lapunikova, said on Friday that the second surgery was aimed at removing dead tissue from his body.

After Friday’s intervention, “the patient is currently conscious, stable in the intensive care unit and his condition still remains serious”, she said. Concerning offers that Slovakia received from other nations to transport Mr Fico elsewhere, the hospital director said: “It’s not a good idea to speed up things, the patient has to be stable.”

His shooting has shocked the nation and other countries ahead of elections to the European Parliament next month. Slovak parties from across the political divide have cancelled their campaigning and the national parliament has suspended its session.

Mr Kalinak, the defence minister, is one of Mr Fico’s closest allies and is seen as likely to take over while the prime minister is unable to carry out his duties. He is one of four deputies to whom the prime minister’s duties devolve while he is in hospital, though one of those may be named as an interim leader.

One of the most daunting tasks for the political leadership will be to reduce tensions. Andrej Danko, leader of the ultranationalist SNS party, which is part of the ruling coalition, has vowed “to start a political war” with the liberal opposition, which he blames for the shooting.

Mr Danko said on Friday that he expected Mr Kalinak to take interim charge of government. Mr Kalinak is also the only one of the four deputy prime ministers who is from Smer, the party founded by Mr Fico.

In a rare show of unity the outgoing president, Zuzana Caputova, who hails from the opposition, and the incoming head of state and Fico ally, Peter Pellegrini, on Thursday held a joint news conference urging politicians and citizens to stop the cycle of political attacks.

But western diplomats in Bratislava remain concerned about the toxic political environment spinning out of control while Mr Fico is incapacitated.

Despite himself being a populist politician stoking anti-Ukraine and anti-EU sentiment in the country, Mr Fico is seen as a slick operator and the only one capable of keeping the fragile coalition together, said one diplomat. In contrast, he added, “Danko is a loose cannon at the best of times”. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited