Slovakian PM Fico regains consciousness after long operation (Ld)

Bratislava, May 16 Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was critically injured in an assassination attempt on Wednesday, has regained consciousness after an operation lasting several hours, local media has reported.

According to local media TA3, BBC quoted Slovakian Environment Minister Tomas Taraba as saying that the Prime Minister's life is not in danger.

"I was very shocked ... fortunately as far as I know the operation went well -- and I guess in the end he will survive ... he's not in a life-threatening situation at this moment," Taraba said.

According to Taraba, one shot hit the stomach and the other a joint.

Fico was in critical condition while undergoing surgery, Slovakian Defence Minister Robert Kalinak said earlier on Wednesday evening at a press conference.

The attack has been classified as a politically motivated assassination, according to Slovak Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok.

Estok said that the assassination attempt was "politically motivated and the decision was born right after the presidential election". He blamed "social media hate" for the attack.

Fico was wounded Wednesday afternoon after attending a government meeting in the town of Handlova, some 150 km northeast of the capital. He was shot by a 71-year-old man. According to eyewitnesses, the man shot the premier several times after a cabinet meeting as he was greeting supporters.

Fico had been transported by helicopter to the Roosevelt Hospital in Banska Bystrica, as the flight to the capital would take a longer time.

Slovak media later identified the attacker as Juraj Cintula, reportedly a poet and founder of the Slovak Association of Writers, and a supporter of the opposition Progressive Slovakia party, and he used his licensed gun for the crime.

The head of the left-wing Smer-SD party, Fico returned to office in October 2023 after serving two stints as Prime Minister from 2006 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2018.

He halted the previous policy of military aid to Kiev and called for a negotiated settlement between Russia and Ukraine. This had put him at odds with other European countries, save Hungary, which follows a similar course.

Source: IANS
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