Friday Briefing

Outside the hospital where Robert Fico, the Slovakian leader, was treated after he was shot.Credit…Martin Divisek/EPA, via Shutterstock

A suspect is charged in Slovakia

An assassination attempt by a “lone wolf” who fired at least four bullets into Robert Fico, the leader of Slovakia, has put a spotlight on the Central European nation’s troubled politics.

The suspect was promptly arrested on Wednesday and charged with attempted premeditated murder, but the authorities have not named him publicly. Slovakian news outlets, citing police sources, identified him as a 71-year-old retiree with a yen for poetry and protests who the authorities said had acted alone.

Fico, the prime minister, is pushing to overhaul the judiciary to limit the scope of corruption investigations, to reshape the national broadcasting system to purge what the government calls liberal bias and to crack down on foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations. He opposes military aid to Ukraine, L.G.B.T.Q. rights and the E.U.

Context: Slovakian society and political culture are so bitterly divided that the violence has become yet another club with which each side can beat the other, amid what onlookers say is extreme polarization, exacerbated by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

E.U. elections: Calls are growing in Slovakia for political parties to suspend campaigning in the wake of the attack.

Quotable: “We are on the doorstep of a civil war,” the interior minister, Matus Sutaj Estok, said. “The assassination attempt on the prime minister is a confirmation of that.”

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