Slovak PM 'improving' after assassination attempt

Slovak populist Prime Minister Robert Fico's condition is improving following an assassination attempt that shocked the European Union nation deeply polarised over his policies.

"After today's consultation, the patient's condition is stabilised," the hospital treating the Slovak leader in the central city of Banska Bystrica said on Monday.

A statement released by the clinic said Fico was "clinically improving, communicating, inflammatory parameters are slowly decreasing".

It said Fico remains hospitalised in the clinic for the time being.

On Sunday, the clinic said Fico, 59, was no longer in life-threatening condition after he was shot in the abdomen as he greeted supporters on Wednesday outside a cultural centre in the town of Handlova, nearly 140km northeast of the capital, Bratislava.

Video showed the Slovak premier approach people gathered at barricades and reach out to shake hands as a man stepped forward, extended his arm and fired five rounds before being tackled and arrested.

Fico immediately underwent a five-hour surgery to treat multiple wounds he suffered in the shooting followed by another two-hour surgery Friday to remove dead tissue from his gunshot wounds.

The country's Specialised Criminal Court in the town of Pezinok on Saturday ordered the suspected assailant, who is charged with attempted murder, to remain behind bars.

The suspect can appeal the order.

Little information about the would-be assassin has been disclosed after prosecutors told police not to publicly identify him or release details about the case.

The government officials originally said they believed it was a politically motivated attack committed by a "lone wolf", but announced on Sunday that a "third party" might have been involved in "acting for the benefit of the perpetrator".

Fico's government has made efforts to overhaul public broadcasting - a move critics said would give the government full control of public television and radio.

That, along with his plans to amend the penal code to eliminate a special anti-graft prosecutor, have led opponents to worry that Fico will lead Slovakia down a more autocratic path.

The government's smallest coalition partner, the ultranationalist Slovak National Party, was expecting a government meeting early this week to discuss the new media law, which the parliament started to debate last week.