Slovakia's PM Fico makes first public comments since being wounded in assassination attempt

Slovakia’s populist Prime Minister Robert Fico posted a speech online on Wednesday, his first appearance since he was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt three weeks ago.

In a prerecorded speech on his Facebook ahead of the European Parliament election, Fico said the attack caused serious damage to his health and that “it will be a small miracle if I return to work in several weeks.”

Fico has been recovering from multiple wounds after being shot in the abdomen as he greeted supporters on May 15 in the town of Handlova, about 85 miles northeast of the capital, Bratislava. The assailant was arrested.

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Seemingly in good shape as he spoke, Fico pledged to be back at work at the end of June, beginning of July, and said he felt “no hatred” towards his attacker.

“I forgive him,” he said, adding he planned no legal action against the assailant.

Still, he slammed the opposition and others, saying: “After all, it’s evident that he only was a messenger of evil and political hatred.”

Fico suggested that his views of Russia’s war on Ukraine and other issues that sharply differ from the European mainstream had made him a victim.

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“It’s cruel to state that, but a right to have a different opinion has ceased to exist in the European Union,” he said, blaming unspecified Western countries for the alleged situation.

Fico was released from a hospital in the central city of Banska Bystrica last week, and taken to his home in Bratislava, where he continues to recuperate.

A video of te attack shows him approach people gathered at barricades and reach out to shake hands as a man steps forward, extends his arm and fires five rounds before being tackled and arrested.

Fico immediately underwent a five-hour surgery, followed by another two-hour surgery two days later.

His government has made efforts to overhaul public broadcasting — a move critics said would give the government full control of public television and radio.

That, along with his plans to amend the penal code to eliminate a special anti-graft prosecutor, has led opponents to worry that he would lead Slovakia down a more autocratic path.

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