Slovakia Restricts Protests, Boosts Security After Fico Shooting

(Bloomberg) -- Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government approved heightened security measures nearly a month after an assassination attempt targeted the premier, including providing life-long protection to high-level officials and restricting protests near their homes.

Most Read from Bloomberg

The eastern European nation is still reeling from the May 15 shooting that gravely injured Fico, only the second such attempt on a European leader’s life in more than two decades. The prime minister was shot four times at close range after a government meeting northeast of Bratislava.

Defense Minister Robert Kalinak, a deputy premier who is stewarding the government as Fico recovers, pledged that the measures won’t impede on the right to protest.

“Local authorities and the police will not disrupt peaceful assemblies,” he told reporters in Bratislava Wednesday after the cabinet approved the measures. The package must win a majority in parliament.

Despite calls from leaders to dial back political attacks, tensions have intensified in one of the most politically polarized member states of the European Union. The prime minister appeared for the first time since the attack in a video on June 5, in which he echoed the rhetoric of his allies in blaming the opposition and the media for creating the conditions for the shooting.

The restrictions on protests near politicians’ homes will have an effect on Fico. Locals have repeatedly protested outside his home during his previous terms in office. The prime minister returned to office last year on a campaign to halt military aid to Ukraine and for more spending on social programs.

According to the new measures, premiers and parliamentary speakers who have served multiple terms — a condition tailored to Fico — will receive a life-long payment and security protection. Top officials including opposition leaders will also be better protected.

Fico’s ruling coalition also has ambitions to curb what it perceives to be “hostile” and “anti-government” coverage in several independent media outlets.

Later this month, it plans to approve an overhaul of the nation’s television and radio broadcasters, moving them under government control. Employees of both institutions have protested the plans.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.