SLOVAKIA: Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s health condition saw a “slight improvement”, the hospital treating him said Friday, as he recovers from critical gunshot wounds suffered in an assassination attempt.

The Slovak premier was shot and seriously wounded last week as he greeted supporters in the central town of Handlova, in an attack that stoked fears of deepening divisions in the politically polarised country.

Fico underwent two lengthy operations in the hospital in the central city of Banska Bystrica, and his condition had since been dubbed stable but serious.

But in its latest daily update on Fico, the hospital said Friday: “The development of the prime minister’s health condition is stable with a slight improvement.

“We believe that this progress will continue”, the hospital added, without providing further details on the next steps in Fico’s treatment.

His closest political ally, Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak, said on Wednesday that Fico would for now remain in the Banska Bystrica hospital as transporting him to another facility was “definitely out of the question”.

The accused gunman, identified by Slovak media as 71-year-old poet Juraj Cintula, has been charged with premeditated attempted murder and was remanded in custody at a hearing on Saturday.

According to a court document seen by AFP, the suspect said he shot Fico to oppose the government’s Ukraine policy.

“During the interrogation, he stated that since he does not agree with the policy of the current government… he decided to act,” pretrial judge Roman Puchovsky wrote in a decision on Saturday.

The accused notably said he disagreed with the government’s decision to abolish the special prosecutor’s office and to stop sending military aid to Ukraine, as well as alleged persecution of the media.

The attempted assassination shocked EU member Slovakia, where 59-year-old Fico took office in October after his Smer party won a general election.

Now serving his fourth term as prime minister, Fico soured ties with Ukraine after he questioned the neighbouring country’s sovereignty as it battles the Russian invasion.

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