Home Europe Polish PM Tusk Threatened, Slovakia’s PM Fico Still In Critical Condition

Polish PM Tusk Threatened, Slovakia’s PM Fico Still In Critical Condition

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot five times at close range on Wednesday, spurring international condemnation and calls for a calming of political tensions.
Slovakia PM critical, Polish PM gets death threats
File photo of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk at a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, April 15, 2024. Tusk’s security was tightened after he received threats a day after his counterpart in Slovakia, Robert Fico, was shot and grievously injured on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Kacper Pempel/REUTERS)

WARSAW/BRATISLAVA: Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Thursday he received threats after the assassination attempt on his Slovakian counterpart, with a media outlet reporting his security protection would be strengthened.

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot five times at close range on Wednesday, spurring international condemnation and calls for a calming of political tensions.

“There was a lot of it yesterday,” Tusk said in a post on the X social media platform illustrated with a screenshot of a comment, also on X, saying: “today, Slovaks gave us an example of what should be done with Donald Tusk” if he decided not to carry out investment in a big airport in central Poland.

Polish website Wp.pl said on Thursday, citing a source at the State Protection Service, that Tusk’s protection will be strengthened following the assassination attempt on Fico.

A spokesperson for the State Protection Service – the body responsible for protecting the most important people in Poland – declined to comment saying its activities were confidential.

Meanwhile, Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico remains in a serious condition and it is too soon to say whether he will recover, a deputy prime minister said on Thursday.

“Unfortunately I cannot say yet that we are winning (the battle to save Fico) or that the prognosis is positive because the extent of the injuries caused by four gunshot wounds is so extensive that the body’s response will still be very difficult,” Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak said.

Miriam Lapunikova, director of the F.D. Roosevelt University Hospital in Banska Bystrica where Fico is being treated, said the 59-year-old prime minister had undergone five hours of surgery with two teams to treat multiple gunshot wounds.

“At this point his condition is stabilised but is truly very serious. He will be in the intensive care unit,” she told reporters.

Slovikia’s Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said the shooter — whom police have charged with attempted murder — had acted alone and had previously taken part in anti-government protests.

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“This is a lone wolf who had radicalised himself in the latest period after the presidential election (in April),” Sutaj Estok said. The suspect listed Slovakia’s policies on Ukraine and its plans to reform the country’s public broadcaster and dismantle the special prosecutor’s office as reasons for the attack, the interior minister added.

Fico has dominated Slovakia politics for much of the past two decades, winning re-election last October for a fourth stint as premier.

He has fused left-leaning economic views with nationalism, tapping into widespread discontent over living standards in Slovakia, but has also proved a divisive figure. His critics say new reforms threaten the rule of law and media freedoms in Slovakia, a member state of the European Union and NATO.

Fico’s calls for ending sanctions on Russia and halting arms supplies to Ukraine have endeared him to Moscow, and President Vladimir Putin and other Russian politicians have been prominent among those condemning Wednesday’s assassination attempt.

Later on Thursday, Fico ally and Slovakia’s President-elect Peter Pellegrini said that he had been able to speak with the prime minister briefly in hospital.

“He is able to speak but only a few sentences and then he is really tired because he is on some medication,” he told reporters.

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In a career spanning three decades and counting, I’ve been the foreign editor of The Telegraph, Outlook Magazine and the New Indian Express. I helped set up rediff.com’s editorial operations in San Jose and New York, helmed sify.com, and was the founder editor of India.com. My work has featured in national and international publications like the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, Global Times and Ashahi Shimbun. My one constant over all these years, however, has been the attempt to understand rising India’s place in the world. I can rustle up a mean salad, my oil-less pepper chicken is to die for, and it just takes some beer and rhythm and blues to rock my soul.