Slovakian ministers blame media and opposition for attack on Prime Minister Robert Fico

Slovakian ministers blame media and opposition for attack on Prime Minister Robert Fico

Slovakian authorities charged a man with attempted premeditated murder on Thursday after he shot Prime Minister Robert Fico five times in the central town of Handlova.

The assault left the longstanding leader in a serious but stable condition.

"The attempt on Fico's life was politically motivated," Slovakia's Interior Minister Matuš Šutaj-Eštok said during a news conference on Fico's shooting.

Eštok said the suspect, believed to be 71, was a "lone wolf" and did not belong to any political party but had previously taken part in anti-government protests.

The minister did not specify what the motivation was, but blamed media outlets and the opposition.

"It was information that you have recently presented. The way you presented them, on that I think each of you can reflect," he said.

Slovakia's President-elect Peter Pellegrini said he had only been allowed to speak with Fico for a few minutes "because his current condition really requires peace and quiet without any other external distractions."

Pellegrini wished Fico "a great deal of strength in the struggle ahead of him because he is facing a very difficult period indeed."

The president-elect called on political parties to suspend or scale back their campaigns for European elections, which will be held June 6-9.

The populist leader had been attending a political event in Handlova when the shooting took place, sending shockwaves through the central European country.

Fico has long been a divisive figure in Slovakia and beyond. His return to power last year on a pro-Russian, anti-American message led to even greater worries among fellow European Union and NATO members that he would abandon his country’s pro-Western course - particularly on Ukraine.

At the start of Russia's invasion, Slovakia was one of Ukraine's staunchest supporters. Fico halted arms deliveries to Ukraine when he returned to power, his fourth time serving as prime minister.