Belarus Opposition Told to ‘Be Ready’ for Democracy Push as Rumours of Leader’s Ill Health Swirl

LONDON (Reuters) -Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya told her supporters on Monday to be ready to grab any chance to turn her country into a democracy as speculation about the health of veteran President Alexander Lukashenko swirled.

Shortly after her message to supporters via Twitter, a Belarusian state news channel released a photo of Lukashenko, 68, at what it said was a military command centre in what would be his first public appearance in almost a week.

State TV later broadcast a clip of Lukashenko at what it said was a central air force command base. It showed him sitting in a chair talking to officers. Dressed in a military uniform, Lukashenko appeared to have a bandage on his left hand and to be short of breath at times.

Lukashenko, who once told Reuters he was “the last and only dictator in Europe”, has ruled Belarus with an iron first since 1994, using his security forces to intimidate, beat and jail his opponents or force them to flee abroad.

Political Cartoons on World Leaders

A staunch ally of Russia, Lukashenko before Monday had not been pictured in public since May 9 when he reviewed Russia’s annual military parade on Moscow’s Red Square as a guest of President Vladimir Putin.

Looking tired and a little unsteady, Lukashenko was seen with a bandage on his right hand at the time. He skipped a lunch hosted by Putin. He also swerved his traditional post-parade stroll and was driven a short distance to an event instead.

Speculation about his health intensified on Sunday when Lukashenko missed a ceremony in Minsk amid unconfirmed media reports that he had been hospitalised. His place was taken by Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko. Lukashenko’s office has declined to comment on his absence.

A truculent but long-standing ally of

Read the rest

Belarus State Media Release a Photo of Lukashenko Amid Ill Health Rumors

Amid swirling rumors about the health of President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, state news media on Monday released photographs of him, an apparent attempt to tamp down speculation that he was seriously ill.

Mr. Lukashenko, a key Kremlin ally who usually receives fawning daily coverage from state-controlled news media featuring photos and videos, had not been shown since last Tuesday, when he attended events in Moscow and the Belarusian capital, Minsk, celebrating the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany in 1945.

He skipped an annual ceremony on Sunday in Minsk for Belarus’s flag day, an event at which he usually speaks, leaving his prime minister to read a statement.

Europe’s longest serving leader and an avid sportsman, Mr. Lukashenko, 68, has since 1994 ruled Belarus, a former Soviet republic that depends on Moscow for financial aid and security assistance, with a firm grip. In the past he has relished showing off his robust good health in public by rollerblading, playing ice hockey, and giving long speeches outdoors, regardless of the weather.

But the official Belarusian news agency, Belta, and state television had for the past week recycled old photographs and film clips of him.

Ukrainian officials and media fed a swirl of gleeful rumors around the health of Mr. Lukashenko, who is widely reviled in Ukraine for allowing Russia to use Belarus, which borders both nations, as a staging ground for its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

An opposition news outlet, Euroradio, reported that Mr. Lukashenko had been taken by motorcade to a Minsk clinic on Saturday, but the country has not officially commented on his health.

In what could be the most conclusive sign that he was ill, though perhaps not gravely, Russia’s tightly controlled news media — which rarely comment on leaders’ health — have in recent

Read the rest
Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Journey Blog by Crimson Themes.