Who is Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico: Turned the country's foreign policy towards pro-Russian positions

Over the past four years, he has taken more extreme positions that include harsh criticism of Western allies, promises to end military support for Kiev, opposition to sanctions against Russia and threats to veto any future invitation to NATO membership for Ukraine.

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Last October took power for the fourth time: Fico, Photo: Shutterstock
Last October took power for the fourth time: Fico, Photo: Shutterstock
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, whose life is said to be in danger after being shot today, took power for the fourth time last October and turned the country's foreign policy towards more pro-Russian positions, Reuters writes.

He also initiated criminal law and media reforms, which raised concerns about the weakening of the rule of law. During his three-decade career, Fico (59) skillfully weaved between pro-European "mainstream" and nationalist anti-Brussels and anti-American positions, showing at the same time a willingness to change course depending on public opinion or changed political reality.

In the past four years, he has taken more extreme positions that include harsh criticism of Western allies, promises to end military support for Kiev, opposition to sanctions against Russia and threats to veto any future NATO membership invitation for Ukraine.

His coalition halted Slovakia's official arms shipments to Ukraine, and he spoke of what he called Western influence in the war that only led to Slavic peoples killing each other.

Fico has remained steadfast throughout his career, however, on promises to protect the living standards of those left behind in a country where conditions for many are only slowly catching up with Western Europe and where many have relatively fond memories of the communist-era past.

"Fico is a power technician, by far the best in Slovakia. He has no equal at the moment," said sociologist Mihal Vasecka from the Institute of Politics in Bratislava.

"Fico always follows polls, he understands what is happening in society," adds Vasecka.

Fitz's "No Bullet" campaign call for Ukraine appealed to voters in the country of 5,5 million people, where only a minority of the NATO member country believes Russia is to blame for the war in Ukraine.

Fico, who analysts see as inspired by Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán, said he had Slovakia's interests at heart and wanted the war to end.

Western allies and Ukraine say cutting off military aid to Kiev would only help Russia.

"We see Viktor Orbán as one of those European politicians who are not afraid to openly defend the interests of Hungary and the Hungarian people," Fico told Reuters in an emailed response last year.

"He puts them first. And that should be the role of an elected politician, to take care of the interests of his voters and his country," Fico explained.

Born into a working-class family, Fico graduated in law in 1986 and joined the then-ruling Communist Party. After the fall of communist rule in 1989, he worked as a government lawyer, won a seat in parliament under the renamed Communist Party, and represented Slovakia at the European Court of Human Rights.

Fico has led the SMER party since 1999, after he founded it to oppose the center-right reformist government. He channeled his dissatisfaction with liberal economic reforms into his first election victory in 2006.

But he also kept the nation on track to adopt the euro currency in 2009 despite forming a government with nationalists.

His second cabinet won after another centre-right coalition collapsed two years later, and a tough stance on migrants helped him win re-election in 2016.

After that victory, he declared that he wanted Slovakia as part of the EU core with France and Germany.

Fitz's "political luck" faded in 2018 when journalist Jan Kucijak, who was investigating high-level corruption, and his fiancee, Martina Kusnirova, were killed by hitmen.

This sparked massive anti-corruption protests and Fico was forced to resign.

SMER lost power in the 2020 elections due to parties that pledged to eradicate corruption.

Support for his party in polls has fallen below 10 percent, and Fico once tried to address voters' fears during the coronavirus pandemic when he condemned the government's health measures.

"He became the most prominent political representative of the movement against face masks or vaccinations," said political analyst Grigory Meseznikov.

At the same time, he became disaffected with the squabbles in the ruling government and raised doubts about its pro-Western course, adding to the pro-Russian social media narratives that have spread across Slovakia.

Fico also dismissed allegations of corruption that have dogged his party throughout his political career.

He was charged with criminal conspiracy in 2022 for using police and tax information on political enemies - charges he denied and which were later dropped.

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