Suspect in Slovakian PM Shooting Identified as Pro-Russian Sympathizer and Writer Juraj Cintula

An assassination attempt was made on Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico on Wednesday. The suspect, identified by local media as 71-year-old Juraj Cintula, is a resident of Levice, a self-described writer, and a founding member of the Rainbow Literary Club.

Cintula, who has published three poetry collections and two novels, has been linked to the pro-Russian paramilitary group Slovenskí Branci, known for its ties to the Kremlin. In a Facebook post from January 2016, Cintula is seen expressing extremist views in support of self-organized militias, which he believed should protect the country from non-European migrants.

But in 2022, in a post for the Movement Against Violence, he condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This recent stance was somewhat verified by a friend who told Markiza TV that they had debates about politics and that while the friend was “more for Russia,” Cintula “had different opinions.”

In a brief video that Markiza TV released after his arrest, he said “I don’t agree with the government’s policies. Why are the media being targeted? Why is RTVS under attack? Why was Mazák dismissed from his position?”

A former security guard, Cintula reportedly held a gun license and in 2016 had been the victim of an attack while working at a shopping center.

This assassination attempt, the first on a senior politician in modern Slovakia’s history, has led to a strong response from the country’s General Prosecutor, Maroš Žilinka, who vowed that the attacker would face “uncompromising” punishment. Allies of Prime Minister Fico have blamed “liberal media” for creating an environment that promoted hatred towards him and his populist policies.

In light of the incident, the country’s largest opposition party, Progressive Slovakia, has called off a planned protest against the government’s controversial reform of the state-funded public broadcaster to avoid further escalation of tensions.

The pro-Russian leader is currently hospitalized following the shooting incident that took place after his cabinet’s session in the town of Handlova. Reports on his condition are conflicting. As of this writing, the Deputy Prime Minister has said that the Prime Minister is expected to survive and is “not in a life-threatening situation at this moment.” There are also reports stating otherwise.

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