Slovakia’s PM Fico undergoes another operation, deputy PM says he is hopeful

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Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico underwent a two-hour operation on Friday that has increased hopes for his recovery, a deputy prime minister said, following an assassination attempt this week that sent shockwaves through Europe.

Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak also said any decision to transfer Fico back to the capital Bratislava from the central city of Banska Bystrica where he is being treated would only be taken when there had been further improvement in his condition.

“It will take several more days for us to know definitively which way it is going,” Kalinak told reporters outside the Banska Bystrica hospital. “I think the surgery today... will allow us to move closer to a positive prognosis.”

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“I am in a better mood because I see there is progress. It is still very serious but for me hopeful.”

Miriam Lapunikova, director of the hospital treating Fico, said he was conscious and stable in the intensive care unit after the operation, which removed dead tissue from his wounds. Fico also underwent hours of surgery on Wednesday soon after being shot five times at close range.

Slovak police have charged a man with attempted murder.

Local news media say he is a 71-year-old former security guard at a shopping mall and the author of three collections of poetry. There has been no official confirmation of his identity.

Police have conducted an hours-long search of the suspect’s home in the central town of Levice with him present, according to TV Makriza. He was wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet and carried a plastic bag and other items.

Armed police, also wearing bullet-proof vests, patrolled outside his home.

Febrile politics

The shooting was the first major assassination attempt on a European political leader for more than 20 years, and has drawn international condemnation. Political analysts and lawmakers say it has exposed an increasingly febrile and polarized political climate both in Slovakia and across Europe.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a political ally of Fico, told public radio on Friday that even if the Slovak leader stages a full recovery, he will not be able to work for months - and this at a critical time for the continent, which faces elections for the European Parliament in early June.

“We are facing an election that will decide not just about members of European Parliament but along with the US election can determine the course of war and peace in Europe,” Orban said.

Fico and Orban have both criticized the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine and the imposition of sanctions on Russia.

Read more:

Alleged gunman charged with Slovak PM’s attempted murder

Hungary’s Orban says fighting for peace ‘alone’ after Fico shooting

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