Lukashenko Misses Major Events, Sparking Health Rumors

Belarus opposition leader says people should be 'well prepared for any scenario'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2023 3:25 PM CDT
Health Rumors Swirl Around Belarus Leader
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin embrace each other during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 5, 2023.   (Pavel Byrkin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

The authoritarian leader of Belarus has been absent from key events in recent days, sparking rumors that his health is failing. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko last appeared in public at events in Moscow and Minsk on May 9 to commemorate victory in World War II, reports Reuters. Observers said the 68-year-old appeared pale and tired in Moscow and after he returned to Minsk, his country's capital, he failed to make his usual Victory Day speech. He skipped numerous scheduled appearances in the following days, including Flag Day celebrations on Sunday, where Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko read an address on his behalf, the AP reports.

State-controlled news outlets published photos and video Monday of Lukashenko visiting the central command post of the country's air force, though the AP reports that the photos didn't dispel talk that the leader could be seriously ill. Lukashenko had a bandage on his right hand and his voice was unusually weak when he spoke to officers. Opposition activist Pavel Latushka, a former government official, said government sources told him Lukashenko has a viral infection with a complication of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle.

Lukashenko, a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin has been in power since 1994. Opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled the country as Lukashenko cracked down on dissent after a disputed election, said Monday that the people of Belarus and the international community should "be well prepared for any scenario," Fox reports. (More Alexander Lukashenko stories.)

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