Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is said to be "between life and death" after an attempt on his life earlier this week, with media in the country now accusing senior government officials of trying to use the incident to "polarise" society. (Photo by Zuzana Gogova/Getty Images)


Slovak PM Fico ‘between life and death’ as media target government


Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is said to be “between life and death” after being shot.

Media in the country are accusing senior government officials of trying to use the incident on May 15 to “polarise” society.

News outlets both nationally and internationally were quick to blame the alleged assassination attempt on Fico’s politics, with many Western outlets in particular branding him as “populist” and “pro-Russian”.

Fico is said to be able to talk following the attack and to remember events leading up to and following the shooting. The Prime Minister said to have remained alert and conscious up until he was put under sedation for surgery.

The senior politician is said to still be in grave danger, with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán describing Fico as currently being “between life and death”.

With doctors now considering whether or not to risk moving him to Bratislava for more specialised care, media outlets have launched a counterattack against Fico’s Government after numerous officials publicly blamed the administration for the shooting.

Writing in an editorial-style piece, senior staff at State-critical outlet Denník N described comments in the country’s Parliament blaming progressive journalists for the attack as “unfortunate”. The outlet said the Fico Government was leading the country down a “bad” and “dangerous” path.

Beata Balogová, a senior editor with the Slovak newspaper SME, said politicians were trying to “polarise the society” in the wake of the failed alleged assassination attempt.

A joint statement issued by senior staff at Denník N, SME and several other major media outlets in the country said that the shooting should not “trigger further aggression, verbal attacks and revenge”.

“This must not be a time for exploiting an assassination attempt for political purposes or inflaming even hotter passions. If hatred is released into the public space, it cannot be controlled,” they wrote.

“We are all at risk.”

International media have been less conciliatory. In the UK, national broadcaster the BBC accused Fico of having “used” the Covid pandemic to rouse “angry crowds” to his cause and of having taken a “sledgehammer” to the country’s institutions since attaining power.

Brussels-aligned outlet Politico has accused him of “spurning independent media” and attempting to push a “Moscow-style” law aimed at labelling NGOs as foreign-funded.

Some politicians appear to have heeded the message, with Peter Pellegrini — Slovakia’s President-Elect and a key ally of Fico — calling for all parties in the country to temporarily suspend or scale down campaigning for the European elections.

This, he says, could help avoid “further confrontation” in the country that could further enflame tensions.