Home News LIVE UPDATES: Slovak leader in ‘life-threatening danger’ after shooting

LIVE UPDATES: Slovak leader in ‘life-threatening danger’ after shooting

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Robert Fico, 59, has played a key role in Slovak politics since gaining independence in 1993, serving as prime minister longer than any other leader.

The country gained independence after the so-called Velvet Revolution, a series of popular non-violent protests against the Communists in 1989 in what was then Czechoslovakia.

Mr Fico, a former member of the Communist Party during its days in power, founded the Smer party in the late 1990s and began the first of his three terms as prime minister in 2006, four years after serving in his coalition. Later he switched to the opposition party. The election failed. Slovakia is a landlocked country with a population of approximately 5 million.

The Smer party originally belonged to the political left, but has increasingly embraced right-wing views on immigration and cultural issues, and now governs as part of a coalition government. International attention to Fico’s leadership in recent years has focused on his relationships with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, Slovakia’s southern neighbor.

Fico returned to power in 2012, but mass demonstrations followed the murders of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova in 2018 Resigned as prime minister in July. The protests, which shocked the country, were the largest since the Velvet Revolution. Demonstrators are demanding the resignation of the government and new elections.

Slovakia ranks high independent assessment Press freedom, but protesters also seek deeper changes in the country Mr Fico oversees.

He returned to power in an election last fall, forming a coalition government after winning about 23% of the vote and opposing sanctions imposed on Russia after it began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. He told voters that the country’s ammunition should be shipped to Ukraine.

In a country where pro-Russian sentiment has historically been high, the stance worried EU leaders in Brussels, who expressed concern that Slovakia might form a pro-russian alliance Cooperation with Mr Orban and possibly Italian leader Giorgio Meloni would hamper Ukraine’s support in the EU. At the time, it was also seen as a sign of a clear erosion of the pro-Ukrainian bloc that had formed in Europe after the invasion.

Compared with countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, Slovakia’s military contribution to Ukraine is negligible.But last year it became one of several EU countries bordering Ukraine block imports There are fears this could harm Slovak farmers’ food supply.

In April, Mr Fico’s ally Peter Pellegrini win a vote Became President of Slovakia. The stance was largely ceremonial, but analysts said the victory strengthened the grip of Russia-friendly political forces in Central Europe, given Pellegrini’s opposition to military and financial aid to Ukraine.

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