Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico attends a government meeting, before he was shot at close range in an assassination attempt, in Handlova, Slovakia, on May 15, 2024.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico spoke for the first time since being shot and wounded in an assassination attempt against him last month, in a video posted on Wednesday, June 5.

In the video on Facebook, Fico said he forgave the attacker who shot him four times and announced he would be ready to gradually resume his duties starting later this month.

“I feel no hatred towards the stranger who shot me,” Fico said, according to an English translation on the video, looking calm but speaking with long pauses. “I forgive him and let him sort out what he did and why he did it in his own head,” he added.

Still, he slammed the opposition and others, saying: “It was not an attack by some madman. (…) He was only a messenger of evil and political hatred which the politically unsuccessful and frustrated opposition has developed in Slovakia.” Fico suggested that his views of Russia’s war on Ukraine and other issues that sharply differ from the European mainstream had made him a victim. “It’s cruel to state that, but a right to have a different opinion has ceased to exist in the European Union,” he said, blaming unspecified Western countries for the alleged situation.

Fico was shot four times at close range on May 15 as he greeted supporters after a government meeting in the central town of Handlova. Fico was taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Banska Bystrica where he underwent two lengthy surgeries and remained in recovery until he was transferred for home treatment on May 31. He said in the video that “if everything goes as planned, I could gradually return to work at the turn of June and July.”

The accused gunman, identified by Slovak media as 71-year-old poet Juraj Cintula, has been charged with premeditated attempted murder and remanded in custody.

Le Monde with AP and AFP