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Find out who Robert Fico is, Prime Minister of Slovakia shot in attack

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who is in a life-threatening condition after being shot this Wednesday (15), took power for the fourth time last October and transformed the country's foreign policy into views more pro-Russian.

He also initiated criminal law and media reforms that raised concerns about weakening the rule of law.

During a three-decade career, Fico, 59, has moved deftly between pro-European mainstream and anti-European and anti-American nationalist positions, while showing a willingness to change course depending on public opinion or changing realities. policies.

He has embraced more extreme positions over the past four years that include strident criticism of Western allies, pledges to stop military support for Kiev, opposition to sanctions against Russia and threats to veto any future Ukraine membership in NATO.

His coalition suspended official Slovak arms shipments to Ukraine and he spoke about what he called Western influence in the war that only led to Slavic nations killing each other.

Fico has remained steady throughout his career, however, on promises to protect the living standards of those left behind in a country where conditions for many are only slowly catching up to those in Western Europe and where many have relatively fond memories of a past communist.

“Fico is a powerful coach, by far the best in Slovakia. It doesn’t have a counterpart at the moment,” said sociologist Michal Vasecka from the Bratislava Institute of Politics.

“Fico is always following opinion polls, he understands what is happening” in society.

His “not a bullet” campaign for Ukraine appealed to voters in the nation of 5.5 million, where only a minority in the NATO member country believes Russia is to blame for the war in Ukraine.

Fico, who analysts see as inspired by Hungary's Viktor Orbán, has said he has Slovak interests at heart and wants the war to end. Western allies and Ukraine say stopping military aid to Kiev would only help Russia.

“We see Viktor Orbán as one of the European politicians who are not afraid to openly defend the interests of Hungary and the Hungarian people,” Fico told Reuters in an email last year.

“He puts them first. And that should be the role of an elected politician, to look after the interests of his voters and his country.”

Born into a working-class family, Fico graduated in law in 1986 and joined the then-ruling Communist Party.

After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, he worked as a government lawyer, won a seat in parliament under the renamed communist party, and represented Slovakia at the European Court of Human Rights.

Fico has headed the SMER-Social Democracia party since 1999, after setting up to oppose the reformist center-right cabinet.

He dealt with dissatisfaction and liberal economic reforms to his first electoral victory in 2006.

But he also kept the nation on course to adopt the Euro in 2009, despite forming a government with nationalists.

His second cabinet won after another center-right coalition split two years later, and a tough stance against migrants helped him win re-election in 2016. After that victory, he declared that he wanted Slovakia as part of the core EU with France and Germany.

Fico's political fortunes faded in 2018 when journalist Jan Kuciak, who was investigating a high-level bribery, and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova were killed by a hired assassin.

This fueled mass protests against corruption and Fico and he was forced to resign. SMER lost power in a 2020 election to parties that had pledged to eliminate corruption, and his party split.

With less than 10% in opinion polls, Fico sought to address voters' fears during the coronavirus pandemic when he criticized government health measures.

“He has become the most prominent political representative of a movement against face masks or vaccination,” said political analyst Grigorij Meseznikov.

At the same time, he seized on dissatisfaction with cabinet bickering and questioned the government's Western stance, with pro-Russian narratives on social media spreading across Slovakia.

Fico also eliminated corruption allegations that dogged his party during his political career. He was charged with criminal conspiracy in 2022 to use police and tax information about political enemies — charges he denied and which were later dropped.

Source: CNN Brasil

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