Who is Robert Fico? Slovakia's PM was the target of an assassination attempt – The Associated Press

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Slovakia’s populist prime minister, Robert Fico, was shot multiple times and gravely wounded Wednesday after a political event in an attempted assassination that shocked the small country and reverberated across Europe.
Slovakia’s populist prime minister, Robert Fico, was shot multiple times and gravely wounded Wednesday after a political event in an attempted assassination that shocked the small country and reverberated across Europe.
Slovakia’s populist prime minister, Robert Fico, was shot multiple times and gravely wounded Wednesday after a political event in an attempted assassination that shocked the small country and reverberated across Europe.
Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile. He was taken to hospital in Banska Bystrica by helicopter after the shooting.
Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile. He was taken to hospital in Banska Bystrica by helicopter after the shooting.
Police cars are parked outside the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
Police cars are parked outside the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
Police and officials stand outside the entrance of the emergency room of the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
Police and officials stand outside the entrance of the emergency room of the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Prime Minister Robert Fico returned to power in Slovakia last year. Having previously served twice as prime minister, from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018, the 59-year-old’s third term made him the longest-serving head of government in Slovakia’s history. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, pool, File)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Prime Minister Robert Fico returned to power in Slovakia last year. Having previously served twice as prime minister, from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018, the 59-year-old’s third term made him the longest-serving head of government in Slovakia’s history. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, pool, File)
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico speaks during a press conference with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the Carmelite Monastery in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Denes Erdos, File)
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico speaks during a press conference with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the Carmelite Monastery in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Denes Erdos, File)
FILE – Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova, right, and newly appointed Prime Minister Robert Fico pose for a photo during a swear in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Bratislava, Slovakia, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. Prime Minister Robert Fico returned to power in Slovakia last year. Having previously served twice as prime minister, from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018, the 59-year-old’s third term made him the longest-serving head of government in Slovakia’s history. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)
FILE – Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova, right, and newly appointed Prime Minister Robert Fico pose for a photo during a swear in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Bratislava, Slovakia, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. Prime Minister Robert Fico returned to power in Slovakia last year. Having previously served twice as prime minister, from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018, the 59-year-old’s third term made him the longest-serving head of government in Slovakia’s history. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico, right, talks to Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. Prime Minister Robert Fico returned to power in Slovakia last year. Having previously served twice as prime minister, from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018, the 59-year-old’s third term made him the longest-serving head of government in Slovakia’s history. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, File)
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico, right, talks to Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. Prime Minister Robert Fico returned to power in Slovakia last year. Having previously served twice as prime minister, from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018, the 59-year-old’s third term made him the longest-serving head of government in Slovakia’s history. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, File)
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico arrives for a cabinet’s away-from-home session in the town of Handlova, Slovakia, Wednesday, May, 15, 2024. Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot and injured after the away-from-home government meeting in Handlova, according to information confirmed by Parliamentary Vice-Chair Lubos Blaha, who suspended the House session. (Radovan Stoklasa/TASR via AP)
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico arrives for a cabinet’s away-from-home session in the town of Handlova, Slovakia, Wednesday, May, 15, 2024. Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot and injured after the away-from-home government meeting in Handlova, according to information confirmed by Parliamentary Vice-Chair Lubos Blaha, who suspended the House session. (Radovan Stoklasa/TASR via AP)
FILE – Leader of the Smer-Social Democracy party Robert Fico addresses the media during a press conference a day after the Slovakia’s general election in Bratislava, Sunday, March 1, 2020. Slovakia’s populist Prime Minister Robert Fico was wounded in a shooting Wednesday May 15, 2024 and taken to hospital. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)
FILE – Leader of the Smer-Social Democracy party Robert Fico addresses the media during a press conference a day after the Slovakia’s general election in Bratislava, Sunday, March 1, 2020. Slovakia’s populist Prime Minister Robert Fico was wounded in a shooting Wednesday May 15, 2024 and taken to hospital. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)
Policemen stand outside the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
Policemen stand outside the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
A police line is placed outside the entrance of the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
A police line is placed outside the entrance of the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
Television crews report from the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
Television crews report from the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
News crews walk outside the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
News crews walk outside the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
Police and officials stand outside the entrance of the emergency room of the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
Police and officials stand outside the entrance of the emergency room of the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, is treated in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in life-threatening condition after being wounded in a shooting after a political event Wednesday afternoon, according to his Facebook profile.(AP Photo/Denes Erdos)
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot multiple times after a political event Wednesday afternoon, an episode of violence that punctuated his decades-long career in politics.
A hospital official where Fico was being treated said on Thursday that he was in serious but stable condition, and that he was being kept in an intensive care unit after a five-hour surgery.
Fico, 59, was born in 1964 in what was then Czechoslovakia. A member of the Communist Party before the dissolution of communism, he took a law degree in 1986 and was first elected to Slovakia’s parliament in 1992 as a member of the Party of the Democratic Left.
He served for several years in the 1990s as a governmental agent representing the Slovak Republic before the European Court of Human Rights and the European Commission of Human Rights. In 1999, he became chairman of the Smer (Direction) party, of which he has been a pivotal figure ever since.
He and Smer have most often been described as left-populist, though he has also been compared to right-wing politicians like the nationalist prime minister of neighboring Hungary, Viktor Orbán.
Fico returned to power in Slovakia last year, having previously served twice as prime minister, from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018. His third term made him the longest-serving head of government in the history of Slovakia, a European Union and NATO member.

After five years in opposition, Fico’s party won parliamentary elections last year on a pro-Russian and anti-American platform. He vowed to bring an end to Slovakia providing Ukraine with military support as it battled Russia’s full-scale invasion, and has argued that NATO and the United States provoked Moscow into war.
After his election victory, the new government immediately halted arms deliveries to Ukraine. Thousands repeatedly took to the streets across Slovakia to rally against Fico’s pro-Russian and other policies, including plans to amend the penal code to eliminate a special anti-graft prosecutor and to take control of public media.

Fico’s return to power caused concern among his critics that he and his party — which had long been tainted by scandal — would lead Slovakia away from its pro-Western course. He vowed to pursue a “sovereign” foreign policy, promised a tough stance against migration and non-governmental organizations, and campaigned against LGBTQ+ rights.
He earned a reputation for his tirades against journalists, and faced criminal charges in 2022 for allegedly creating a criminal group and misuse of power, but the charges were dropped by Slovakia’s prosecutor general.
In 2018, he and his government stepped down amid mass street protests after Slovakian investigative journalist Ján Kuciak was murdered along with his fiancée. Kuciak had been reporting on tax-related crimes implicating high-level Slovak politicians including some in Fico’s party, and his murder set off a political crisis.
Fico is married and has one child.
Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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