Slovak President Zuzana Caputova will take former prime minister and leader of the populist left Smer-SD party Robert Fico to court over the "lies" he keeps spreading, she said on May 10, referring to his claims that she is an American agent and that the technocratic cabinet she is about to nominate is "[American philanthropist George] Soros’s government".
Caputova said on her Facebook profile she would “use all available legal means” after she and her family faced new death threats which employ the same language Fico used at his press conference on Tuesday, May 9.
The Slovak president stated she does not want to bring her rhetoric “low to his [Fico’s] level” by referring to Fico with “any adjectives” and that she will resort to legal steps “as a mother to protect her children,” and as “a citizen to protect an institution” she “temporarily represents”. Caputova also pointed out that Slovak courts have already ruled in the past that Fico’s accusations towards her are baseless and outside of the boundaries of ordinary political struggle.
“Deputy Fico is aware of this. And he also knows that making somebody a target with hateful lies has led to killings in Slovakia,” Caputova said, alludeing to the tragic shooting in Bratislava last autumn when a radicalised teen went out to target Jewish and LGBT+ people, eventually gunning down three people and killing two of them in front of LGBT+ bar Teplaren.
Caputova – who was deputy chair of the liberal Progressives party before becoming president – has been a vocal critic of online hatred, which frequently merges with conspiracies about the EU and the West spread by websites and online channels using disinformation and replicating pro-Kremlin propaganda.
Fico’s Smer-SD is in the lead of the polls ahead of the September 30 early elections, capitalising on the political turmoil and cost of living crisis. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Fico has moved to openly pro-Russian positions and pledged to end Slovakia’s military support of Ukraine if he returns to the government. He has also adopted aggressive rhetoric identical to the radical right on cultural issues around gender and migration, and uses Soros as a bogeyman.
Fico was forced to resign amid mass protests following the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak in 2018 and has now moved to the radical right as part of his strategy to regain power.
On his own Facebook profile, Fico responded that “when we claim something, we don’t research it because there is publicly known evidence of it” and that country’s “media do not want to react to the facts that the president’s government is incredibly close to Soros’ non-governmental world”.
The centre-right coalition led by Eduard Heger collapsed in December and Heger resigned as caretaker premier at the weekend. Slovakia will be steered towards the elections by a technocratic cabinet led by central banker Ludovit Odor, who was nominated by Caputova.