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‘Lone Wolf’ Gunman Who Shot Slovakia’s Prime Minister Identified as Lefty, Pro-Ukraine Activist Poet

An alleged “lone wolf” gunman has been charged in the attempted assassination of Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot five times in the stomach Wednesday. Fico, 59, was in serious but stable condition Thursday, a hospital official said.

As the prime minister was mingling with a small crowd of people waiting to meet him,  the suspected gunman lunged forward and opened fire from across a security barrier. The gravely injured prime minister was bundled into a vehicle by his staff, which quickly sped away, footage from the scene reportedly shows.

The suspect has been identified in European media as Juraj Chintula (sometimes spelled Cintula), 71, a left-wing poet, left-wing political activist, and former security guard. He has been charged with attempted murder.

According to the Associated Press, Slovak authorities say the suspect acted alone in a politically motivated attack against the populist prime minister. He was quickly apprehended at the scene of the attack.

The attempted assassination has shocked the nation and reverberated across the continent weeks ahead of European elections. While President Zuzana Caputova called on everyone to take the opportunity to dial back the vitriol that has characterized the political debate, some government ministers took aim at Slovakia’s media for contributing to the fractious atmosphere.

Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok asked journalists to “reflect” on how they had covered Fico’s policies. He referred to the suspect — who was charged with premeditated murder — as a “lone wolf” who did not belong to any political groups, though he said the attack itself was politically motivated.

Fico has long been a divisive figure in Slovakia and beyond, and his return to power last year on a pro-Russian, anti-American message led to even greater worries among fellow European Union and NATO members that he would abandon his country’s pro-Western course — particularly on Ukraine. At the start of Russia’s invasion, Slovakia was one of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters, but Fico halted arms deliveries to the neighbor when he came to power.

Estok said Chintula himself cited his political dissatisfaction with Fico’s policies as motivation for the attack and that the suspect had recently attended a pro-Ukraine, anti-government protest.

“I can confirm to you that the reason it was a politically motivated, attempted premeditated murder is as the suspect himself said: the media information that he had at his disposal,” he said. “I think each of you can reflect on the way you presented it.”

At the same news conference, Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kaliňák also blamed the media for political tensions in the country.

“Let us step out of the vicious circle of hatred and mutual accusations,” said Caputova, the outgoing president and a rival of Fico’s. “What happened yesterday was an individual act. But the tense atmosphere of hatred was our collective work.”

Pellegrini, the president-elect, called on political parties to suspend or scale back their campaigns for European elections, which will be held June 6-9.

“If there is anything that the people of Slovakia urgently need today, it is at least basic agreement and unity among the Slovak political representation. And if not consensus, then please, at least civilized ways of discussing among each other,” Pelligrini said.

Fico returned to power in Slovakia last year, having previously served twice as prime minister. He and his Smer party have most often been described as left-populist, though he has also been compared to politicians on the right like the nationalist prime minister of neighboring Hungary, Viktor Orbán.

Condemnation of the attack came from both Fico’s allies and adversaries abroad. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a message to President Caputova, expressing his support and wishing the prime minister a fast and full recovery.

“This atrocious crime cannot be justified,” Putin said in the message released by the Kremlin. “I know Robert Fico as a courageous and strong-willed person. I truly hope these personal qualities will help him overcome this harsh situation.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also denounced the violence against a neighboring country’s head of government.

“Every effort should be made to ensure that violence does not become the norm in any country, form or sphere,” he said.

The suspect, Chintula, reportedly told law enforcement officers that he disagreed with Fico’s policies and that he decided to act after the recent presidential election, which saw a Fico ally, Peter Pellegrini, emerge as the winner.

“The reasons [the suspect gave] were the decision to abolish the special prosecutor’s office, the decision to stop supplying military assistance to Ukraine, the reform of public service broadcaster and the dismissal of the judicial council head,” Slovakia’s Interior Minister Matúš Šutaj said.

A video shared on social media shows Chintula sitting and wounded in the head, and stating: “I do not agree with the government’s policies.”

The attempted assassination came less than a week after the Slovak Government announced that Slovakia would not support the current version of the WHO pandemic treaty or the draft amendment to the International Health Regulations.

In a report titled, “The Enigma of Juraj Chintula,” EU Today reported that Chintula maintained a left-wing blog in which he regularly wrote about his political views and blasted Fico’s administration.

Chintula reportedly participated in pro-Ukrainian protests in Slovakia back in in April, wearing a striped sweater and shouting along with the crowd: “Traitors, collaborators, long live Ukraine.”

According to EU Today, Chintula has also been associated with the pro-Russian paramilitary group Slovenskí Branci (SB), which allegedly has links to the Kremlin and allegedly recruits young men across Slovakia.

Hungarian investigative journalist Szabolcs Panyi unearthed Facebook posts reportedly showing Cintula as an SB supporter.

Panyi posted a photo of Chintula standing among the pro-Russian SB members in January of 2016.

In 2016, Chintula ironically created a political movement called “Hnutie proti nasiliu” (Movement Against Violence) in Slovakia, according to EU Today.

He then launched a petition to gather signatures and financial support for the official registration of his party. “Violence is often a reaction of people, a form of expression of simple discontent with the situation. Let us be dissatisfied, but not violent!” he wrote at the time, as recalled by the newspaper. In Europe, “militarization, extremism, neo-Nazism, and anarchy are omnipresent,” he denounced.

President-elect Pellegrini said he spoke to Fico at the hospital Thursday and confirmed his condition “remains very serious.”

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About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Photo: TOPSHOT - This image taken from video footage obtained by AFPTV shows security personnel carrying Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico (C) towards a vehicle after he was shot in Handlova on May 15, 2024. Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico was battling life-threatening wounds after officials said he was shot multiple times in an assassination attempt condemned by European leaders. (Photo by RTVS / AFP) (Photo by -/RTVS/AFP via Getty Images)