Slovakia's Fico Blames Assassination Attempt On 'Hateful' Opposition & Its International Backers

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Jun 08, 2024 - 07:45 PM

This week Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico appeared in a video message while still recovering from the May 15 assassination attempt which saw him shot multiple times at close range in broad daylight. In the video originally published to Facebook, he uttered his first official televised statements since the ordeal which very nearly took his life.

The video was recorded at his home in Bratislava, which suggests he's nearly made a full recovery and is quickly returning to political life in the country's top office. He said he has forgiven his attacker, identified officially by authorities as 71-year-old "Juraj C", who had been tackled to the ground and immediately taken into custody after the shots rang out.

But Fico used the opportunity to put the opposition on notice, saying the shooter was an "activist of the Slovak opposition." In the searing remarks, Fico called the man a "messenger of the evil and political hatred" who was motivated and whipped up by Slovakia’s "unsuccessful and frustrated" opposition. Amazingly, he at one point in the address - released days ago - made some indirect connections to his firm foreign policy stances and the attempt on his life (policies which have resisted Western hegemony as well as the rush to escalate involvement in Ukraine). Watch the remarkable speech below:

In the video he also addressed the Ukraine situation and his 'controversial' stance in opposition to NATO escalation head-on: "The situation in the relations between my political representation and partners in the EU and NATO escalated after the Russian attack on Ukraine, where we refused to provide Ukraine with any military aid from state stocks, except for humanitarian aid, and where we continue to fundamentally prefer peace to war."

"The reluctance of some large democracies to respect the concept of a sovereign and self-confident Slovak foreign policy became grist to the mill of the Slovak opposition," he continued. 

The BBC has noted that "Opposition parties - in particular the liberal Progressive Slovakia, which is neck-and-neck with Mr Fico’s left-populist Smer party ahead of the European Parliament elections - have condemned the shooting and have categorically rejected all links with the attacker."

However, in Fico's talk he made a direct link, saying further:

The opposition was unable to assess, because no one forced them to do so, where their aggressive and hateful politics had led a section of the society and it was only a matter of time before a tragedy would occur.

"People could see with their own eyes what horror can happen if someone is not able to democratically compete and respect other opinions," he said.

He has also committed to the following: "As the Prime Minister of Slovakia, I will not drag the country into such military adventures and, within the framework of our small Slovak capabilities, I will do everything to ensure that peace has priority over war."

"I voted in the hospital because these elections are also important. It is necessary to vote for European deputies who will support peace initiatives, and not the continuation of the war."

* * *

The below prior report by The GrayZone's Kit Klarenberg explores the foreign policy context & intrigue surrounding the attempted murder of Robert Fico... 

On May 15, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was almost murdered in broad daylight. While shaking hands with supporters during a public appearance, a gunman shot him twice in the abdomen and once in the shoulder. The attack left him fighting for his life while authorities raced for clues, and many observers at home and abroad puzzled about the would-be assassin’s motives and whether foreign actors were in some way responsible for the attack. And despite the shooter’s instantaneous arrest, those questions still linger weeks later. 

Fico, a veteran Slovak political figure, was re-elected in September 2023 amid a wave of public resentment over the proxy war in Ukraine, pledging to end arms supplies to Kiev and anti-Russian sanctions. On the campaign trail, Western leaders, journalists and pundits aggressively stoked fears of the “pro-Putin,” “populist” candidate returning to office. Ukraine’s Western-backed “Center for Countering Disinformation” publicly accused him of spreading “infoterror” back in April 2022.

But many Slovakians see it differently. They say Fico is merely committed to defending Slovakia’s sovereignty, and governing in his nation’s interests, not those of Brussels, Kiev, London, and Washington. For Western politicians, his victory came at a highly inopportune time, with public and political consensus on the proxy war in Ukraine rapidly fraying across Europe.

Since Fico’s election, media outlets like Germany’s state broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, have branded him a “threat” to the EU and NATO. His declaration that Kiev must cede territory to Russia to end the war was not well-received in Western capitals. In April, the premier seemingly predicted his own shooting, warning that the virulent political climate in Bratislava could result in politicians getting killed.

Domestically, a number of foreign-funded media assets and NGOs have relentlessly targeted Fico for pursuing neutrality in the conflict. But over two years after Russia’s intervention, local polling indicates just 40% of the population blame Moscow for the proxy war, and 50% consider the US to be a threat to national security. Meanwhile, 69% of Slovakians believe by continuing to arm Ukraine, the West is “provoking Russia and bringing itself closer to the war” and 66% agreed that “the US is dragging [their] country into a war with Russia because it is profiting from it.”

When Fico was re-elected in September 2023, this journalist speculated that a color revolution could soon be impending in Slovakia. We are now left to ponder whether the Prime Minister’s attempted assassination was a Western-directed plot to remove his troublesome government from office. Even though he is finally on the road to recovery, the threat of an overseas-orchestrated coup remains. A vast US-sponsored opposition political and media infrastructure is causing havoc in Bratislava, and this could easily escalate further.

Slovakia has since the end of the Cold War stood apart from its neighbors. Folding the country into the EU and NATO and neutralizing its rebellious politics and population has required an enormous investment in time and money by Brussels and Washington, and relentless meddling in the country’s internal affairs by foreign-funded organizations and actors. Fico’s return to power threatened to not only derail that project, but create a regional contagion effect. Disinfecting the country therefore became of the utmost urgency for the West.

Facebook purge suggests shooter was a no 'lone wolf'

Fico’s shooter, 71-year-old Juraj Cintula, is among the Slovaks who do not support Fico’s positions. A discrepant picture of the man has emerged since his arrest. Some acquaintances describe him as “weird and angry,” and “against everything.” Others report he was meek and mild-mannered, a far from obvious candidate to attempt a high-level political assassination. Cintula, an avowed Kiev ultra, claims he acted alone, his actions motivated by a desire to replace Fico’s government with a pro-Ukrainian administration. Slovakian court documents state that Cintula “wants military aid to be provided to Ukraine and considers the current government to be Judas towards the European Union,” and say this perception is why the would-be assassin “decided to act.”

The mainstream media has made much of Cintula’s background as a dissident poet and writer, in a seeming effort to humanize the would-be killer. By contrast, Aaron Bushnell, who in February self-immolated in protest of Washington’s facilitation of the Gaza genocide, was widely tarred by journalists as a maladjusted, mentally unwell outcast. Unmentioned by any Western outlet is that during the 1980s, Cintula was under surveillance by Czechoslovak security services.

The reason for the Czechs’ interest is unclear, although it may have been due to anti-Communist actions, or foreign contacts. Whether Cintula had seditious confederates within or without Slovakia is a key line of inquiry for police. That all traces of the shooter’s Facebook profile were comprehensively scrubbed from the internet two hours after the shooting, before investigators could access the information, is also source of intense suspicion.

While it is customary for the social network to purge the profiles of “dangerous individuals” – a fate this journalist has suffered for investigative reporting – following such incidents, in Bratislava Facebook relies on cooperating local individuals and organizations to police content. Apparently, Cintula’s profile was wiped before his identity had been reported in local media. Slovak authorities must now rely on the FBI to secure and provide the deleted information. Whether whatever is turned over will be unexpurgated is an open question.

Another disturbing feature of mainstream reporting on the shooting is ubiquitous, persistent reference to Slovakia’s unstable politics. According to this narrative, Fico’s anti-Western policies have fueled the chaotic state of affairs, provoking the assassination attempt and making him ultimately responsible for the attempt on his life. In the days following the shooting, the BBCFinancial TimesNew York Times and Germany’s esteemed Der Spiegel pinned the blame on Slovakia’s alleged “toxic” political culture. The latter revised its wording after significant public backlash. 

One could be forgiven for concluding Western journalists take it as self-evident that defying EU/US will provides legitimate grounds for getting shot. Western politicians clearly do. On May 23rd, Georgian prime minister Irakli Kobakhidze revealed that EU commissioner Oliver Varhelyi warned him he could suffer the same fate as Fico, if his government didn’t drop a highly controversial “foreign influence transparency” law, which would compel local NGOs to disclose their sources of income.

After listing the various ways the EU could retaliate against Georgia in a phone call with Kobakhidze, Varhelyi allegedly stated: “Look what happened to Fico, you should be very careful.”

Varhelyi has since confirmed that he cited Fico’s fate in private conversations with Kobakhidze, but claimed he was merely concerned with “dissuading the Georgian political leadership” from adopting restrictions on foreign-funded NGOs. Varhelyi insisted in a written statement that he simply “felt the need” to caution the Prime Minister “not to enflame [sic] further the already fragile situation,” arguing that he only mentioned “the latest tragic event in Slovakia… as an example and as a reference to where such high levels of polarisation can lead in a society.”

Public records show the US government regime change specialists at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) have pumped millions into NGOs and media outlets in Slovakia under the aegis of mundane-sounding initiatives such as “strengthening civil society” and “promoting democratic values among youth.” Similar language is used to describe the purpose of Endowment grants in Georgia, financing groups at the forefront of recent violent unrest on the streets of Tbilisi, as The Grayzone has documented. Perhaps unsurprisingly, NED grantees are unanimous in their opposition to Fico. 

Anyone searching for the source of Slovakia’s “toxic” politics need not look further than these US-backed organizations. Washington has stirred this cauldron for almost three decades, and with all sides of the Slovakian political class blaming one another the rising tide of hatred, it is hoping the pot will finally boil over.

Regime change blueprint honed in Slovakia

The NED-organized overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia in 2000 established an insurrectionary blueprint which was subsequently exported in the form of color revolutions. But throughout  the 1990s, Slovakian activists honed the tactics which would eventually be deployed by US regime change operatives across the Soviet sphere. 

At the time, Bratislava was one of the only post-Communist countries that neither adopted ruinous neoliberal political and economic reforms, nor pursued EU or NATO membership. Slovakia’s then-Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar paid a harsh price for his independent stance. Relentlessly slandered by US and European leaders as a Russian pawn, he quickly became a target for regime change. 

In 1997, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright publicly described Slovakia as “a black hole in the heart of Europe,” formally marking him for removal. So it was that NED funded the creation of Civic Campaign 98 (OK’98), a coalition of 11 anti-government NGOs.

Explicitly modeled on an earlier NED-funded effort in Bulgaria, concerned with “creating chaos” after the Socialist Party won the 1990 election, many of the individuals involved had been part of Cold War-era Czechoslovak anti-Communist dissident groups. OK’98 was publicly framed as a non-partisan get-out-the-vote campaign, but its vast resources were explicitly deployed for anti-government purposes. Its activities included rock concerts, short films, and TV infomercials in which Slovak celebrities urged young people to vote.

Meciar emerged with the most votes in the 1998 election, but the opposition gained enough seats to form a government. The NED assets who powered them to victory went on to give practical training to NED-supported pro-Western agitators like Pora, which ignited Kiev’s 2004 “Orange Revolution.” The insurrectionist youth group successfully overturned the re-election of President Viktor Yanukovych that year, installing the US-backed neoliberal Viktor Yushchenko in his place.

The return of Robert Fico represented a significant broadside against ongoing US “democratization” of the former Soviet sphere. It opened up the prospect of further anti-NATO candidates and governments gaining office elsewhere in Europe, at the most inconvenient juncture imaginable for Brussels and Washington. 

Not coincidentally, it was at this time polling for Germany’s upstart Alternative für Deutschland became turbocharged. The Euroskeptic party’s standing has soared in recent months, eliciting mainstream calls to ban it outright. And in North Macedonia just one week prior to Fico’s shooting, the anti-establishment VMRO-DPMNE party returned to power, overturning a NATO-fuelled color revolution that removed the party from office almost a decade earlier. 

As the anti-Western backlash gained steam, a decision may have been made to draw a bloody red line in Slovakia.