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Slovakia’s pro-Russia Prime Minister Robert Fico wounded in apparent assassination attempt

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Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot and wounded in an apparent assassination attempt Wednesday as he made an appearance outside a community center, local media reported.

Fico was airlifted to a nearby hospital. His official Facebook page said he was “shot multiple times and is currently in a life-threatening condition.” Slovak broadcaster TA3 said Fico, 59, was shot in the abdomen after a meeting in the town of Handlova, about 100 miles northeast of the capital Bratislava, in central Slovakia.

The alleged assailant, who has not been identified, was detained by police. Video published on social media, which USA TODAY has not verified, appeared to show several men rushing to detain the suspect.

In a post on X, Slovakai’s President Zuzana Čaputová said she was “utterly shocked by today’s brutal attack on #Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico, which I condemn in strongest possible terms. I wish him lot of strength in this critical moment and early recovery. My thoughts are also with his family and close ones.”

There was also strong condemnation from international leaders.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the incident was a “vile attack” on Fico.

President Joe Biden said in a statement that he was “alarmed” to hear about the attack and that the U.S. government was “in close touch with the government of Slovakia and ready to assist.”

Fico has been prime minister since 2023, a role he previously held. The European Policy Center think tank describes him as a “pro-Russian populist” who blends “social populism, nationalism and anti-liberalism.”

He resigned as prime minister in 2018 in the wake of an investigation into the murder of Ján Kuciak, a journalist who had regularly reported on cases of organized crime and corruption in Slovakia, including articles on alleged tax fraud committed by prominent members of the country’s business community. Fico offered to step down to respect calls for political change following large street protests over Kuciak’s murder. He returned to power last year in a coalition government, at the helm of a populist left-wing party named Smer-SSD. One of Fico’s campaign pledges was to halt all military aid to Ukraine. He has repeatedly denied being pro-Russian.

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The last assassination of a major political figure was in 2022, when Shinzo Abe, Japan’s former prime minister, was shot and killed by a lone gunman while campaigning for his ruling party. Serving Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was shot dead in 2021 in his private residence in Port-au-Prince by a band of 28 armed men.

Contributing: Swapna Venugopal

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