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Speculation swirls around Slovakia, with details about the Fico attack

Questions were swirling in Slovakia on Friday, because of the shock assassination plot of Prime Minister Robert Fico is beginning to give way to anxiety about what happens next for the deeply polarized country.

The authorities have withheld details about the attack, the attacker and even who is leading the country while the prime minister’s hospitalization was kept to a minimum. Officials said they will provide more information soon but the situation is very sensitive.

They have not named the suspect – whom Slovakia’s Interior Minister described as a “lone wolf” who was radicalized after presidential election last month – nor did he say when he would appear in court to face one crime of intentional murder. They called the shooting politically motivated and called on the public and politicians to tone down their rhetoric and political rancor as investigations unfold.

Local media reported on Friday that police officers escorted the suspect to his home in the central Slovakia town of Levice, where they searched the premises and seized documents. Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Details about Mr. Fico’s injuries and condition are also kept confidential. Local news agencies reported doctors will meet on Monday to determine whether the prime minister can be transferred to the capital Bratislava from the intensive care unit of a hospital in central Slovakia, where he spent surgery or not.

On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak, told a news conference that Mr. Fico’s condition was stable but that he was “not out of danger” and faced a “difficult” recovery. towel”.

“I must say that his health condition is very serious,” Slovakia’s president-elect, Peter Pellegrini, said after visiting Mr. Fico at the hospital in Banska Bystrica, Thursday afternoon.

And there has been no official announcement about who will run in Mr. Fico’s absence. Local media quoted ministers saying that Mr. Kalinak chaired the meetings.

Authorities are conducting two investigations – one into the attacker, the other into the response of security forces at the scene – and urged against rushing to judgment.

Slovak officials acknowledged criticism of the officers’ actions. Local news outlets have published interviews with security experts analyzing the gunman’s movements and police response to try to understand how the attacker was able to fire at least five shots at close range. ly close before being subdued.

Investigations are ongoing amid deep political division in Slovakia. Mr. Fico has pushed for a fiercely controversial reform of the judiciary to limit the scope of corruption investigations, and he has moved to reshape the nation’s broadcasting system to purge what it sees as corruption. government calls liberal bias.

In fact, senior officials in Mr. Fico’s ruling Smer party accused liberal journalists and opposition politicians of promoting the assassination through their harsh criticism of politicians. government action. However, Mr. Pellegrini, an ally of Mr. Fico, who was elected last monthis one of the loudest voices calling for calm.

In the context of a lack of information from the authorities, speculation about the identity and motives of the attacker is increasingly widespread, causing the Ministry of Home Affairs to make many decisions. Warning against spreading “unverified” details.

Set said late Thursday that “a large amount of misinformation” had been spread about the attack. On an existing website of the Ministry dedicated to combating hoaxes, they labeled some news as unconfirmed – that the suspect was a member of a Slovak paramilitary group, that his wife was a Ukrainian refugee – is “untrue” but doesn’t give anything away. can be verified.

As officials warned that tensions risked spreading, some in Slovakia expressed concern about whether Mr. Fico may not be dead — as well as what might happen if he recovers.

“Polarization is very present in today’s society and will get worse after this attack,” said Hana Klistincova, 34, a translator interviewed in Bratislava. “Personally, I am not afraid that the attack could be repeated – it was the impulsive behavior of one individual – but I am afraid of the impact this will have on society because of our union leaders, who People started blaming the opposition and the media, right? Later.”

Veronika Kladivikova, a 27-year-old seamstress from Banska Stiavnica, a small town in central Slovakia, said she was horrified by the attack.

“Even families are separated. I feel it in my own family,” she said as she watched her children play in the sandbox at the park.

But she said she was “not scared right now,” adding, “I hope people will be alert enough not to panic, or even turn against each other, more divided.”

Sara Cincurova Contributed reporting from Bratislava.


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