The suspect in the attempted murder of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico arrived on Saturday May 18 before the criminal court in Pezinok, northeast of Bratislava, which will decide whether he remains in pre-trial detention. The man, identified by Slovak media as 71-year-old poet Juraj Cintula, fired five shots at Mr. Fico on Wednesday, hitting him four times.

The events took place as Mr. Fico greeted his supporters after a government meeting relocated to Handlova, in central Slovakia. He was taken to hospital by helicopter and underwent surgery which lasted five hours.

Mr. Fico, in office since his centrist populist party, SMER, won the general elections in the fall of 2023, underwent another two-hour intervention on Friday. “Yesterday’s surgery, which lasted two hours, contributed to a positive prognosis for the prime minister’s health,” Slovak Health Minister Zuzana Dolinkova told reporters on Saturday.

A prosecutor requested Friday that Mr. Cintula be placed in pre-trial detention after being indicted for attempted premeditated murder.

Mr. Fico is serving his fourth term as prime minister after campaigning on peace proposals between Russia and Ukraine, Slovakia’s neighbor, and on cutting off military aid to kyiv, which his government subsequently did.

The assassination attempt deeply shocked this country of 5.4 million inhabitants, a member of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which has already been strongly divided politically for several years.

The outgoing pro-Western president, Zuzana Caputova, and her successor, Peter Pellegrini, an ally of Mr. Fico who will take office in June, called on their fellow Slovak citizens to refrain from any “confrontation” after the attack. They called a meeting of all parliamentary party leaders for Tuesday to show unity in the wake of the attack. But some politicians have already launched accusations against their opponents, accusing them of being behind the attack.

Robert Kalinak, deputy prime minister and Mr. Fico’s closest ally, criticized opposition politicians and some media on Friday for calling Mr. Fico a criminal, a dictator or a servant of Russian President Vladimir Putin before the attack. “All these lies are the main reason why Robert Fico is fighting for his life today,” he said in a message published on the SMER website.