World

Slovakia’s PM makes first public appearance since assassination attempt

Robert Fico has been recovering at home from multiple wounds he suffered in the May 15 attack when he was shot in the abdomen.

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico arrives for a cabinet’s away-from-home session in the town of Handlova, Slovakia (Radovan Stoklasa/AP)
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico arrives for a cabinet’s away-from-home session in the town of Handlova, Slovakia (Radovan Stoklasa/AP) (Radovan Stoklasa/AP)

Slovakia’s populist Prime Minister Robert Fico made his first public appearance on Friday since he was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt.

Mr Fico has been recovering at home from multiple wounds he suffered in the May 15 attack when he was shot in the abdomen as he greeted supporters in the town of Handlova, nearly 85 miles northeast of the capital.

The suspect, identified only as “JC”, was immediately arrested and faces terror charges.

Bodyguards take Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico in a car from the scene after he was shot and injured in Handlova, Slovakia (Radovan Stoklasa/AP)
Bodyguards take Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico in a car from the scene after he was shot and injured in Handlova, Slovakia (Radovan Stoklasa/AP) (Radovan Stoklasa/AP)

Mr Fico gave a speech on a stage at an evening gathering to mark the 1,161 anniversary of Saints Cyril and Methodius’s arrival, a national holiday in his country.

People gave him a standing ovation when he arrived at the Devin Castle in the capital.

In his address Mr Fico, who was standing on the stage, attacked what he called liberal and progressivist ideologies and praised Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban for his recent trips to Kyiv and Moscow.

Mr Fico ended his country’s military aid for Ukraine after his coalition government was sworn in on October 25.

He also opposes EU sanctions on Russia, and wants to block Ukraine from joining Nato.

He has long been a divisive figure in Slovakia and beyond.

He returned to power for the fourth time last year, when his leftist party Smer, or Direction, won the parliamentary election last September after campaigning on a pro-Russia and anti-American message.

His critics worry that Slovakia could abandon its pro-Western course and follow the direction of Hungary under Mr Orban.

Thousands have repeatedly rallied in the capital and across Slovakia to protest Mr Fico’s policies.