struggle between life and death

An elderly poet fires five shots at the prime minister. He seriously injures him. And Slovakia, a nation in the heart of Europe, falls into chaos again. Six years ago a young journalist was killed after publishing a series of investigations into the alleged links between local politics and the ‘Ndrangheta. The head of the Slovak government at the time was the leader of the Smer-Social Democracy party, Robert Fico: he was forced to resign following popular protests. In 2023 Fico returned stronger than before, he won the elections by focusing on a not so secretly pro-Putin election campaign in which he promised to block aid to Ukraine. Yesterday he was the victim of an attack, wounded in the abdomen, an arm and a leg. In hospital he underwent a very long surgery. But his condition is still very serious and last night he was in a medically induced coma. At the end of the operation he explained to Deputy Prime Minister Thomas Tariba: «he will survive».

Robert Fico, why did the attacker shoot? The links with the pro-Russian paramilitary group, the political motive and the son’s shock: “A short circuit”


Fico struggles between life and death after a 71-year-old man, Juraj Cintula, poet and writer, shot him a few meters away. Everything is part of the tangle of tensions of an increasingly poisoned and divided country: just yesterday Parliament was preparing to vote on a measure which would abolish public television (RTVS) and, according to the minority, prepare a more sensitive to the requests of the governing party. For weeks there have been demonstrations by opposition, progressive and pro-Western forces. They also contest the justice reform which would defuse corruption investigations. A few hours after the attack and Cintula’s arrest, in a completely anomalous way the media were already in possession of the video of the handcuffed elderly poet explaining why he shot: “I don’t agree with the government’s policy” . The interlocutor asks him: “And that’s why you decided to shoot?”. Answer: «The media have been liquidated. Why is Rtvs being attacked? Judge Mazák (former President of the Judicial Council) why was he fired? Here’s a video like this, incredibly, it hit the sites while Fico was under the knife. Cintula’s wife was also stopped by the police. The Slovak media also found old racist texts by the poet-attacker and links to pro-Russian paramilitary formations: a mess. The attack inflames Slovakia. Members of the majority accused the media and opposition parties of fueling hatred. «I invite everyone to calm down. Both those who approve of this heinous act and those who seek revenge,” says Interior Minister Matúš Šutaj Eštok. “I have no doubt that the attack has a political background” attacks the Minister of Defense, Robert Kaliňák.


It is 4pm when a dramatic message written by the staff appears on the Facebook page of Robert Fico, Prime Minister of Slovakia, leader of a left-wing populist and nationalist party, pro-Putin: «They injured Robert Fico. He was shot several times and his life is in danger. He is transported by helicopter to Banská Bystrica, because it would take too long to get to Bratislava. The next few hours will be decisive.” Fico, 60 years old, is very serious after the attack which occurred just before 3pm in a city in central Slovakia. The person who shot him five times, Juraj Cintula, was held back while people shouted “hope they give you a life sentence, otherwise we’ll come looking for you”. From Telegram channels close to Moscow it is written that the attacker is a supporter of the opposition parties, the son contacted by journalists simply says “he certainly didn’t vote for Fico”. Slovakia cannot remain united even after the attack on the prime minister. The loyalists of the man who is defined as the Slovak Orban (reference to the Hungarian president) rush to accuse progressives and the media for having fueled hatred; opposition members speak of exploitation.
But who is the attacker? A former security guard, a poet, an activist from a writers’ association, someone who professed to be non-violent and had recorded three videos on this topic. He wrote: «Violence is often a reaction of people, as a form of expression of simple dissatisfaction with the state of things. Let’s try to be dissatisfied, but not violent! Cintula eight years ago, after suffering an attack when he worked as a security guard in a shopping centre, he founded a movement against violence. He had also published three collections of poetry. Because of his work before retirement, he legally owns a gun. Let’s go back to yesterday afternoon. Cintula is in the square of Handlova, 165 kilometers east of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. He wanders behind the barriers, together with a few dozen people. He awaits the end of the government meeting which is taking place in a cultural centre. He is wearing jeans and a light blue shirt. When the prime minister comes out, he calls his attention, shouts at him to come closer as if he wanted to shake his hand: «Robo, come here». The prime minister’s bodyguards are not worried, Fico approaches the barriers, exchanges a few words with some citizens, but Cintula, leaning on the barrier between an elderly man with a hat and a lady with a handbag, pulls out his gun. Five shots are distinctly heard before Cintula is stopped. Fico was hit at least three times, in the arm, stomach and intestines. The bodyguards drag him away, try to keep him standing, push him into the blue car, which speeds towards the nearest medical center. And from there he is transferred by helicopter to a more equipped hospital.



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The messenger

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