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Slovak PM blames opposition for ‘hatred’ before shooting

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico blamed his opponents for fostering the “hatred” that led to an assassination attempt against him, in his first address since the shooting.

Looking calm but speaking with long pauses, the 59-year-old also said in the video on Facebook that he could resume work as early as this month.

“I feel no hatred towards the stranger who shot me,” Mr Fico said.

“I forgive him and let him sort out what he did and why he did it in his own head.”

But Mr Fico said the accused gunman was not “some madman” but “a messenger of the evil and political hatred” fostered by the opposition in Slovakia.

Mr Fico was shot four times at close range on 15 May as he greeted supporters after a government meeting in the central town of Handlova.

The alleged perpetrator, identified by Slovak media as 71-year-old poet Juraj Cintula, has been charged with premeditated attempted murder and remanded in custody.

Mr Fico was taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Banska Bystrica after the shooting, where he underwent two lengthy surgeries.

He was transferred for home treatment to the capital Bratislava on 31 May.

‘There will be more victims’

Mr Fico said in the video that “if everything goes as planned, I could gradually return to work at the turn of June and July”.

However, most of the 14-minute message was devoted to a robust defence of his views and accusations against political opponents, critical media and non-governmental organisations.

“The opposition was unable to assess … where their aggressive and hateful politics has led a section of society and it was only a matter of time before a tragedy would occur.

“If it continues as it is now, the horror of 15 May … will continue and there will be more victims. I don’t doubt it, not for a second,” he said.

Mr Fico came to power most recently following elections last year and previously headed governments in 2006-10 and 2012-18.

He was forced to resign in 2018 after an investigative journalist’s murder exposed high-level corruption and sparked anti-government sentiment.

Since returning to office last October, Mr Fico has made a string of remarks that have soured ties between Slovakia and neighbouring Ukraine.

He has questioned Ukraine’s sovereignty and called for a compromise with Russia, which invaded in 2022.

After he was elected, Slovakia stopped sending weapons to Ukraine.

He also sparked mass protests with controversial changes, including a media law that critics say will undermine the impartiality of public television and radio.

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