Home Analysis Observations of an Expat: Robert Fico: From Sinner to Saint to Martyr

Observations of an Expat: Robert Fico: From Sinner to Saint to Martyr

Observations of an Expat: Robert Fico: From Sinner to Saint to Martyr

Robert Fico is a sinner who has been turned into a saint by an attempted assassination and may yet become a martyr.

By Tom Arms

The man who shot Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico has inflicted major damage on the cause of liberalism.

Fico is a far-right populist who started his political life as a far-left populist. He supports Putin and opposes Zelensky. He is anti-immigrant, anti-vaxer, anti-Muslim and hates journalists. While Fico is fighting for his life in a Bratislavan intensive care unit, far-right politicians in Slovakia and beyond are using his fate as a rallying cry.

In short, Robert Fico is a sinner who has been turned into a saint by an attempted assassination and may yet become a martyr.

When the Soviet Empire collapsed, Robert Fico was a staunch member of the Communist Party and when the first post-Soviet Czechoslovak parliament was elected he successfully ran as a candidate of the communist successor party.

But as the communists fell from favor, Fico jumped ship and in 1999 formed his own political vehicle—Direction Social Democracy (SMER-SD). Seven years later, his party won the most seats in Slovak Parliamentary elections and Fico became prime minister for the first time. He was served again 2006 to 2010, 2012 to 2016, 2016 to 2018 and finally from 2023.

In 2018, Robert Fico resigned the premiership after mass demonstrations in protest against the murder of young investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée. A short spell in the political wilderness followed, but Fico’s career was saved by the Covid pandemic. He took an increasingly anti-lockdown, anti-vax position in direct opposition to the government’s policy. At one point his support for during an anti-lockdown demonstration resulted in his arrest.

In 2023 Fico was back in the prime minister’s chair at the head of a coalition which included the far-right Slovak National Party and the far-left Voice-Social Democracy (HLAS) Party. On the face of it, his political partners were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but in reality they shared an ultra-nationalist populist agenda with Fico’s SMER-SD.

6644b679f210a.imageFico’s own views became increasingly far-right and ultra-nationalist. Same-sex marriages and adoptions by same-sex couple are “a perversion.” His views on immigration also follow the same line as other European nationalists:  We will not, said the prime minister “accept a single Muslim immigrant.”

The media, says Fico, is “an organized criminal group with the aim of breaking Slovak statehood.”

Fico is keen on promoting the mid-19th political movement of “Slavonic identity.” This meant backing Serbia in the Balkan wars and Russia in just about everything. Fico accused Georgia of provoking the Russian invasion and described Western sanctions imposed after the 2014 annexation of Crimea as “senseless.”

Fico did criticize the 2022 invasion of Ukraine but again attacked Western sanctions. The Slovak government from 2018 to 2023 had been one of the most prominent supporters of the Ukrainian war effort, sending artillery shells and even fighter jets. In the 2023 election, Fico campaigned on a pledge to send “not one more round of ammunition” to Kyiv.

He has called on Ukrainians to lay down their arms and accept a negotiated solution which leaves the Russians with Crimea and the Donbas Region. Earlier this year, he parroted the Kremlin position when he said: “Ukraine is not an independent and sovereign country.” As for Vladimir Putin, he is “unjustly demonized” by the West.

Fico’s strongest bile is directed at the media. At press conferences he regularly uses profanities to describe the journalists’ who ask questions that he doesn’t like.  The media, says Fico, is “an organized criminal group with the aim of breaking Slovak statehood.” He is called on the national police to investigate Slovakian media for treason.

While Fico was being rushed to the hospital after being shot, the Slovakian parliament was debating a bill to dismantle the national broadcaster RTVS whose objectives, Fico said: “were in permanent conflict with government.”

After the shooting, Slovak President Zuzana Caputova, said: “The hateful rhetoric we witness in society leads to hateful acts.”

World-ReviewWorld Review

It took Vladimir Putin just nine days to go from his inauguration in the Kremlin to Zhongnanhai—the seat of China’s political power and the home of President Xi Jinping.

At the end of the two-day visit the “partnership without limits” had been elevated to one in which there are now “no forbidden areas of cooperation.”

The two countries—and the two leaders—are united in their common goal of dismantling the liberal Western political order that has dominated the world since 1945. Democracy, they are convinced, has had its day. It is time now for Sino-Russian orchestrated autocracy.

The current pivot of the Beijing-Moscow axis is the Ukraine War. This war presents both problems and opportunities for China. On the one hand, Russian failure would be regarded as a disaster. On the other, Xi Jinping is conscious of the need to prevent Sino-American relations from deteriorating too quickly. China is not ready to step into American shoes.

So, Xi Jinping exploits Russia to poke, needle and goad Washington. He talks of “no forbidden areas of cooperation” but then urges Putin to row back on the nuclear rhetoric. China has yet to recognize the Russian annexation of Luhansk and Donetsk and – so far—has refused to supply Russia with obvious weaponry. It buys more oil from Russia but is playing hardball on the Russian request for a gas pipeline that would replace revenues that Gazprom has lost in Europe.

China, has however, ignored Western sanctions against Russia. In 2022 Russian imports of Chinese machine tools grew by 120 percent and in 2023 they rose another 170 percent.

Machine tools are just one industrial category which Secretary of State Antony Blinken has complained loudly about as helping the Russian war effort. This equipment either has a hidden defense element or it is categorized as dual-use, which means it can be used for civilian or military purposes.

Other similar categories of Chinese exports have grown exponentially since Russian tanks rolled across the Ukrainian border. Semi-conductor exports rose from $230 million in 2021 to £407 million in 2023. The machinery for making computer chips grew from $3.5 million to $180 million over the same period. Computer chips are essential for the conduct of high-tech 21st century warfare.


Russian oil and gas are financing Putin’s Ukraine War. So, this week, the Russian president had good news and bad news about his war coffers.

Oil revenues are up. Gas revenues are down.

Gazprom—the state gas monopoly—lost $6.9 billion in 2023. Its first annual loss since the bad old days of Russian financial chaos 20 years ago. The reason for the drop is Western sanctions and the closure of the gas pipelines Nordstream 1 and 2. Russian gas sales to Europe were down 55.6 percent. They will be even lower next year.

The picture provided by Rosneft—the Russian oil equivalent—is much rosier. Its profits were up a record 13 percent to $14.07 billion. The reason for its financial success were India, Putin’s friends in OPEC and the end of the pandemic.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has completely ignored Western sanctions and exploited Putin’s difficulties by buying huge quantities of oil at discounted prices, India then reaps a nice profit by selling the processed oil to third countries via the world market.

The OPEC countries meanwhile, have obliged President Putin by keeping oil production down and prices up. At the same time demand for energy has grown as the world economy recovers from the Covid pandemic.

But what about the coming year. Gazprom’s revenues are unlikely to rise. It takes time to build alternative destination pipelines and storage facilities. As for oil prices, demand is starting to fall. India has reached the limits of how much oil it can process and world economic growth is expected to drop to 2.7 percent in 2024 compared to 5.5 percent in 2022.

So, what Putin needs is a first class money manager to ensure that the maximum efficiency is squeezed out of every rouble. That is why he has appointed economist Andre Belousov as his new Minister for Defense.

Putin is his own commander-in-chief. He already has a Chief of Staff in the form of General Valery Gerasimov. What he needs is someone who can organize a defense budget that is now 6.7 percent of the country’s GDP before oil prices start to go the way of gas prices.


In 1923, the US Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, was hauled before the courts for accepting a $350,000 bribe that allowed an oil company to drill in protected reserves at Teapot Dome, Wyoming.

This is the crux of the Teapot Dome Scandal which was recognized as America’s biggest political scandal until Watergate and the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Now, we have another potential oil scandal, involving—surprise, surprise—Donald Trump. According to the Washington Post the former president invited a phalanx of top oil executives to Mar-a-Lago and offered to reverse President Biden’s climate change decrees in return for a $1 billion contribution to his campaign finances.

According to the Post, the oil companies are drafting the necessary executive decrees as I type this story.

Trump desperately needs the money. Cash wins votes in America and at the moment Biden’s campaign is outperforming Trump’s in the money-raising stakes two to one. A billion dollar injection could determine the result.

Which is why Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, has written to the oil companies who are alleged to have been at the Florida meeting (Exxon, Chesapeake Energy, Continental Resources, Chevron, Cheniere Energy, EQT Corporation, Occidental Petroleum and Venture Capital).

Raskin wants to know who attended the meeting; copies of materials shared with the attendees; descriptions of the rules of the meeting; policies discussed; and an account of financial contributions to the Trump campaign made at or after the event.

In 1923, Albert Fall, went to prison for a year. In 2024, if the oil companies hand over the $1 billion; and if Donald Trump is elected; and if he reverses President Biden’s climate change legislation and executive decrees, nothing will happen. It is scandalous. In most countries it is illegal. But in the United States – the country which projects itself as a paragon of democratic probity and the rule of law—it is… politics.


To hold elections or not to hold elections. That is the question vexing Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelensky. Actually it isn’t. It is too late. According to the Ukrainian constitution, Zelensky’s term of office ends on Monday and he is going nowhere.

Volodomyr Zelensky would not be the first democratic leader not to hold elections in the middle of a war. Winston Churchill delayed elections because of the war. Then held them as soon as the fighting stopped and was booted out of office.

Franklin D. Roosevelt went ahead with elections in the middle of World War Two and was rewarded with an unprecedented third term in the White House. But then World War Two was not fought in the continental United States.

Zelensky has a good reason for postponing elections. Ukraine is in the thick of it. Most of its young men are fighting and over 8 million Ukrainians are refugees. The six month delay in extracting promised American weaponry is taking a heavy toll as Russian troops advance on all fronts.

In the north they are moving towards Kharkiv—Ukraine’s second largest city. In the south Russian forces have flattened Ukrainian villages in the Zaporizhia region and in the center of the 800-mile front line, the Russians are threatening to capture the hilltop town of Chasiv Yar. This would allow them to place heavy artillery on a strategically located plateau from which they could dominate the countryside for miles in every direction.

The Ukrainians have not built proper defensive lines. The US weaponry has not reached them. The Russians are pouring more and more conscripts into the meat grinder. The Ukrainians are outgunned and outmanned. President Zelensky has described the situation as “very difficult” but “under control.” Election dates are the last thing he is thinking about.


Tom Arms Journalist Sindh CourierTom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and the author of “The Encyclopaedia of the Cold War” and “America Made in Britain.” To subscribe to email updates of his blog go to observationsofanexpat@substack.com

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