Slovakia’s Robert Fico no longer in danger after assassination attempt: Deputy PM

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Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s life is no longer in danger following an assassination attempt, Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak said on Sunday.

Fico has been in hospital since Wednesday when a lone gunman shot him four times, including in the abdomen.

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“He has emerged from the immediate threat to his life, but his condition remains serious and he requires intensive care,” Kalinak, Fico’s closest political ally, told reporters.

The Slovak premier underwent a five-hour surgery on Wednesday and another surgery on Friday, both at a hospital in the central city of Banska Bystrica.

“We can consider his condition stable with a positive prognosis,” Kalinak said outside the hospital, adding, "We all feel a bit more relaxed now.”

Kalinak added that Fico would stay at Banska Bystrica for the moment.

The suspected gunman, identified by Slovak media as 71-year-old poet Juraj Cintula, has been charged with attempted premeditated murder and was put in pre-trial detention by a special penal court on Saturday.

Fico was shot as he was walking to greet supporters after a government meeting in the central mining town of Handlova.

Kalinak said earlier that Fico had suffered four gunshot wounds, two light, one medium and one serious.

Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said that if one of the shots “went just a few centimeters higher, it would have hit the prime minister’s liver.”

The 59-year-old Fico took office in October after his centrist populist Smer party won a general election.

He is serving his fourth term as prime minister after campaigning on proposals for peace between Russia and Slovakia’s neighbor Ukraine, and to halt military aid to Kyiv, which his government has done.

Kalinak said the government would carry on without Fico "according to the program he has outlined,” including two meetings next week.

The assassination attempt has deeply shocked the EU and NATO member country of 5.4 million people, already sharply divided over politics for years.

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