Robert Fico assassination attempt suspect was government critic who opposed Ukraine war

robert fico assassination attempt suspect was government critic who opposed ukraine war

A man, named by local sources as Juraj Cintula, is held by police at the scene of the shooting - Radovan Stoklasa/Reuters

The would-be assassin of Robert Fico opposed Russia’s war in Ukraine and the prime minister’s weakening of Slovakian anti-corruption laws.

Juraj Cintula, a 71-year-old poet from the western town of Levice, posted online rants against Mr Fico before opening fire on the Left-wing nationalist at close range on Wednesday.

A photo of the writer published on X, formerly Twitter, showed him protesting against the government’s controversial reforms, including the scrapping of the special prosecutor’s office, in February.

The anti-corruption office was closed in March – despite warnings from the European Commission – by Mr Fico, who was forced to deny he was running a mafia state during a previous term in office.

He is viewed as one of the EU’s most pro-Russian leaders after campaigning on a platform to end weapons donations to Ukraine.

In a post for the Movement Against Violence in 2022, Mr Cintula condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “What Slavic brotherhood?” he wrote, referring to Kremlin claims that Ukraine and Russia could be joined as they were essentially the same country. “He is only the aggressor and the attacked.”

A friend from Levice told Markiza TV that the pair had debates about politics, saying: “I’m more for Russia. He had different opinions.”

In 2015, Mr Cintula founded the campaign group Against Violence and sought to get it officially registered in Slovakia. “Violence is often a reaction of people, as a form of expression of ordinary dissatisfaction with the state of affairs. Let’s be dissatisfied, but not violent,” a petition circulated by him said.

The suspected gunman’s son told local media he was in shock, saying his father owned the gun legally.

“I have absolutely no idea what father intended, what he planned, why it happened,” he said. Asked whether his father hated Mr Fico, he said: “I’ll tell you this – he didn’t vote for him. That’s all I can say about it.”

Unverified video footage emerged on Wednesday of Mr Cintula saying he did not agree with Mr Fico’s “government policy”. In another social media post, he criticised the Fico government for not cracking down on gambling.

The suspect’s political leanings appear to have shifted over time. He was once pro-Russian, and railed against “eyeless gypsies” and migrants before shooting the populist prime minister, who is fiercely anti-migrant.

robert fico assassination attempt suspect was government critic who opposed ukraine war

Robert Fico's security staff are seen picking him up after the shooting in a screengrab from video of the incident - AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images

In 2016, he appeared in a photograph with the Slovak Soldiers, a far-Right, Pro-Russian association. In a social media post with the photo, he wrote that he was attracted to the group because of  its “selfless zeal” and “the ability to act without the order of the state”.

Mr Cintula, who is the author of three poetry collections and two books, is listed as one of the founders of the Dúha literary club, in which he has been active since 2005.

He regularly published contributions to the literary club, including one in which he railed against “rich deviants” in Slovak society, who he said were poisoning public debate.

“This fraction, the percentage, must not determine the pathogenic value system of the masses. It is immoral and abnormal! They say that decent people don’t go into politics,” he wrote.

Other examples of his work point to a hatred for gypsies. “There have never been so many eyeless gypsies in Europe as there are today. But they see well and know how to use the social systems of countries,” he wrote.

“The state does not solve the problem, it only feeds on it. One hundred thousand Slovak gypsies stand for the favour of the whites, but they won’t tell us.”

He was the subject of media attention in 2016 when it was reported that he was attacked while working for a private security firm at a department store in Levice.

He was assaulted by a younger man, who was apparently under the influence of drugs. Markiza TV reported he suffered injuries all over his body and could not work for a long time.

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