Slovakian PM shot by poet; violence heralds unrest

Slovakian PM Robert Fico was shot five times on May 15th in Handlova, a small mining town in the center of the country. He was rushed to the hospital and is expected to recover. His security detail underestimated the threat of violence in Handlova, whos farming and mining constituents generally support the PM. Fico has been prime minister for the last ten years and isn't shy about silencing his critics and speaking out against progressives in general.

Journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová were found shot to death in their apartment near Bratislava in 2018. Kuciak had previously written an expose linking the Slovak government *cough*Fico*cough* to mafia, yet Kuciak's death and subsequent widespread protests did not see the permanent ousting of Fico. He resigned in disgrace but was reelected last October.

Since then, he's threatened to remove funding from independent news networks that are critical of him, dismantled anti-corruption investigations lobbed against him, and various other actions straight out of the sketchy-to-villainous playbook.

The 71 year old ex security guard and amateur writer attempted his own version of poetic justice, what the popular reaction will be is as of yet unknown.

The official government response so far doesn't bode well.

"They were saying, 'Now we're going to go after the media, and we are going to pass legislation. We will not be shy about this," one person with knowledge of the event told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity. "It sounded quite threatening."
The assassination attempt has highlighted deep divisions in Slovak society, and Fico has played his part in bringing them about. – John T Psaropoulos, Al Jazeera

However, it is not the only recent act of political violence in Slovakia. In the 1990s, we had the assassination of witness Robert Remiáš. In 2018, the murders of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová, deaths that triggered mass protests and eventually forced Fico out of power. Two young people were gunned down outside the Tepláreň club, a venue popular with the LGBTQ+ community. There have been brutal police raids on Roma settlements. The outgoing president, Zuzana Čaputová, and her family have received death threats at her home.

A large part of Slovak society has, therefore, been living recently with the unspoken fear that the anger of some frustrated individual will turn into an act of violence. As Čaputová said: "What happened [to Fico] was an individual act, but the accumulated hatred was a collective act." – Monika Kompaníková, The Guardian