Fact Check: Fico Shooting Suspect Is NOT Member Of Pro-Western Progressive Party -- Interior Minister, Party Chairman Denied It

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Fico Shooting Suspect Is NOT Member Of Pro-Western Progressive Party -- Interior Minister, Party Chairman Denied It Not Affiliated

Is a man suspected of shooting Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico a member of the Progressive party opposing Fico's policies? No, that's not true: Both Progressive Slovakia's chairman and the interior minister rejected such claims. As of this writing, no credible media reports corroborated the claim.

The story appeared in a post (archived here) on X, formerly known as Twitter, by "OSINTdefender" on May 15, 2024. It opened:

The Shooter who attempted to Assassinate the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico earlier today has been Identified by Slovakian Media as a 71-Year-Old Poet and Member of the Pro-Western Progressive Party, Juraj Cintula from the Town of Levice. Cintula had previously been Openly Critical on Social Media of PM Fico and his Government.

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-05-16 at 11.28.09 AM.png

Twitter screenshot(Source: X screenshot taken on Thu May 16 15:28:09 2024 UTC)

The assassination attempt took place on May 15, 2024 (archived here). The suspected gunman was arrested on location (archived here).

On the same day, Michal Simečka (archived here), the chairman of the Progressive Slovakia party, refuted (archived here) the claim on X. As translated by Chrome, he wrote:

We ... warn against spreading false information about the shooter. We categorically deny that he is a member of our movement. Nor is there any other connection of his to our party or our members. We strongly condemn his heinous act.

A statement (archived here) repeating it and calling for an investigation appeared on the party's website.

On May 16, 2024, Slovakian Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said, as translated (archived here) to English by Slovakia's national news agency Tasr:

I can confirm that the suspect is not affiliated with any radicalised political group, neither on the right or left side of the spectrum.

Officials described the suspect as a "lone wolf."

Several media organizations, including EuroNews (archived here), released the supposed name of the suspect and published articles about that man's alleged background. Unconfirmed as of this writing, even those articles did not describe the suspect as a member of the Progressive Slovakia party.

Some journalists covering the region suggested that the popularity of the claim about the suspect's political affiliation could have partly resulted from a lack of knowledge of the local context. For example, a reporter for Politico Europe (archived here) pointed out that Levice (archived here), which is a town in Slovakia the suspect was linked to by the media reports, is not the same as the similar-sounding leftist political party Levica (archived here) in Slovenia.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about Slovakian politician Robert Fico can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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