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Analysis: Slovakia's prime minister is a divisive politician in a divided country

Slovaks have been deeply divided over the country's direction and position in the world since Prime Minister Robert Fico was re-elected last year. Supporters see Fico as a thoughtful leader who has their interests at heart, while critics say he is a populist whose pro-Russian tendencies pose great risks to the country.

Since taking office in October, Fico has brought about a major shift in Slovakia's foreign policy and its previously staunch support for Ukraine. He promised an immediate end to military support for Kiev against the Russian invasion and promised to block Ukraine's ambitions to join NATO.

Domestically, his coalition government is also pushing controversial reforms that have led to weeks of large-scale peaceful protests. Attempts to overhaul the criminal justice system have been particularly controversial as the government seeks to reduce penalties for corruption.

It has already abolished Slovakia's special prosecutor's office, which was tasked with investigating serious and politically sensitive cases of corruption, including some involving people linked to Fico and his party Direction – Social Democracy (SMER).

The Slovak government is also trying to close public service broadcaster RTVS, planning to replace it with a new national broadcaster that would be under stricter government control.

Before his stunning political comeback last year, Fico spent more than a decade as prime minister. He was forced to resign in March 2018 after weeks of mass protests triggered by the murders of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová. Kuciak had reported on corruption among the country's elite.

This year's fiercely contested presidential election saw Fico consolidate his grip on power, while his ally Peter Pellegrini was elected to office.

Source: CNN Brasil

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