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Slovak PM Fico discharged from hospital after shooting

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has been discharged from hospital, just over two weeks after he was shot in an assassination attempt when leaving a government meeting, a spokeswoman has said.

The 59-year-old was left in a critical condition after being shot five times by a gunman in the central Slovak town of Handlova where he had been chairing a government meeting.

He was initially taken to a local hospital, before being flown to a hospital in the central city of Banska Bystrica where he underwent a more than a five-hour surgical operation immediately and another two days later.

Mr Fico remained there until today, when he was discharged and taken to his apartment in the capital, Bratislava.

“Robert Fico was transported from our hospital to Bratislava in the evening hours,” Banska Bystrica hospital spokeswoman Ruzena Mataseje told AFP.

The hospital said his progress was “satisfactory”, but his ally Robert Kalinak, a deputy prime minister, said his recovery would be “extremely long”.

Robert Fico was hospitalised after the shooting earlier this month

The attack, the first major assassination attempt on a European political leader for more than 20 years, underscored deep political divisions in Slovak society.

Police detained the attacker on the spot.

Prosecutors later charged the man, identified as Juraj C, with premeditated murder, and a court ordered he be held in custody.

The 71-year old man told the court he had wanted to hurt, and not kill, the Slovak prime minister because he disagreed with government policies, and had used a gun he had owned for more than 30 years, a court document showed.

Mr Fico, who returned as prime minister last October for the fourth time, has drawn criticism in some quarters for taking a more pro-Russian stance in the Ukraine war and initiating reforms of criminal law and the media which have raised concerns over the rule of law and prompted street protests.

During a three-decade career, Mr Fico has moved between the pro-European mainstream and nationalistic positions opposed to EU and US policies.

He has also shown a willingness to change course depending on public opinion or changed political realities.

An admirer of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Mr Fico has grown increasingly critical of western support for Ukraine in its war with invading Russian forces and has expressed opposition to allowing Kyiv to join NATO in the future.

Mr Fico was forced to resign as premier amid mass protests in 2018 triggered by the contract killing of Jan Kuciak, a journalist who had been investigating high-level corruption.

Those protests exacerbated divisions in Slovak society that still linger.

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