Robert Fico, the pro-Russian populist leader of Slovakia

The Prime Minister of Slovakia, Rober Fico, has been shot by a 71-year-old man in front of the House of Culture in Handlová.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
14 May 2024 Tuesday 22:21
6 Reads
Robert Fico, the pro-Russian populist leader of Slovakia

The Prime Minister of Slovakia, Rober Fico, has been shot by a 71-year-old man in front of the House of Culture in Handlová. The gunman, a 71-year-old man, was arrested at the same place as the attack and there are fears for Fico's life. Born into a working-class family on September 15, 1964, he began his political career in the Communist Party shortly before the Velvet Revolution of 1989 that led to the breakup of the former Czechoslovakia. Married with a son, he has a doctorate in Law and is described as daring, direct and a fan of football and fast cars.

Currently defined as a pro-Russian populist social democrat, he was Slovakia's representative before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) from 1994 to 2000 and since 2003 he participated in the training of defense lawyers for the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Between 1994 and 1996 he was a member of the Democratic Left party until he created his center-left party Smer-SD in 1999 after being rejected for a ministerial position by the Democratic Left (SDL).

Smer won a landslide victory in 2006, catapulting Fico to the post of prime minister two years after Slovakia joined the EU. In 2009, he led his country into the eurozone, but failed to form a coalition the following year despite winning the election.

He won another landslide victory in 2012 after the fall of a center-right coalition over corruption accusations, and won again in 2016, but had to resign two years later in the face of popular outrage over the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak, and his girlfriend, Martina Kusnirová, both 27 years old.

They were shot by a hitman in their home in February of that year, clearly because the reporter was investigating connections between an Italian mafia (the Calabrian 'Ndrangueta) and businessmen related to the Smer-SSD party. Thousands of people protested in Bratislava and other cities in demonstrations that were, according to the local press, the largest since the velvet revolution of 1989. The protesters demanded the resignation of the Government, for negligence in the Kuciak case and for previous suspicions of corruption .

Fico agreed to resign on the condition that Smer-SSD remained at the head of the Government, and was succeeded by his then co-religionist Peter Pellegrini, who was thus Prime Minister until losing the elections in March 2020. Shortly afterwards, Pellegrini founded his new party Hlas- SD. Fico faced criminal charges in 2022 for alleged use of sensitive information about opponents, which he denied. The Prosecutor's Office dropped the charges.

In last October's elections, the Smer-SSD garnered 23.3% of the vote compared to 17.1% received by its main rival, the pro-European Progressive Slovakia (PS) party of Michal Simecka, one of the vice-presidents of Parliament. European. A government led by him has aligned Slovakia with neighboring Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán maintains constant tension with Brussels due to conflicts over the rule of law or a more comprehensive view towards Moscow than towards Kyiv.

He has declared himself an admirer of Putin to the point of ensuring that he would not allow the arrest of the Russian president in Slovakia even if there was an international order and promised to veto a request from Ukraine to join NATO.

With anti-Western rhetoric, he has attacked the EU and even considered Slovak President Zuzana Caputova as a “puppet of the United States.” Her speech is anti-Muslim immigration, she has criticized same-sex marriage and described adoption by same-sex couples as a “perversion.” During the pandemic she was an unapologetic anti-vaccine.