Lukashenko Health Problems Could Prompt ‘Chaos’ in Belarus: Opposition

Rumors of a health scare for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko have prompted the democratic opposition-in-exile to start work on new plans for a potentially rapid and chaotic change of power, the movement’s leader has told Newsweek.

On the sidelines of the Copenhagen Democracy Summit in the Danish capital on Monday, Belarusian pro-democratic leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya told Newsweek that Lukashenko’s condition is not thought to be “life-threatening.”

However, she said that the uncertainty around Lukashenko’s health raises the prospect of political “chaos” in Belarus that both his allies in Russia and his enemies abroad will be looking to exploit.

There has been much speculation as to the health of Lukashenko, 68, since his appearance at the Moscow Victory Day celebrations on May 9, where observers noted a bandage on the leader’s right arm. Lukashenko was absent from portions of the ceremony and was the only leader of the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States that did not lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

lukashenko-moscow-russia-parade.jpg?w=790&f=9f01492432ec6eeca7d2717725ab77d3″ alt=”Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko Moscow Russia parade” width=”790″ height=”505″/
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko attends the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in central Moscow, Russia, on May 9, 2023. Lukashenko’s bandaged hand sparked rumors about his health.
GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

Until Monday, Lukashenko had not been seen in public for nearly a week, and on Sunday missed an annual ceremony at which young people swear allegiance to the Belarusian flag. Belarusian opposition media has reported that Lukashenko visited a Minsk clinic this weekend, where he stayed for two hours.

“It showed us that there is a necessity to work out a very fast reaction just in case this happens,” Tsikhanouskaya told Newsweek of the prospect of Lukashenko’s loss of power, whether through death, incapacity, coup, or voluntary handover of

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Belarus leader Lukashenko absence at ceremony sparks health speculation

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has not been seen in public since Tuesday, did not appear on Sunday at a ceremony in the capital, Minsk, triggering speculation that the veteran leader is seriously ill.

The BelTA state news agency reported that Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko read a message from Lukashenko during an annual ceremony at which young people swear allegiance to the ex-Soviet state’s flag.

The agency gave no reason for Lukashenko’s absence five days after he appeared unwell and skipped parts of commemorations in Moscow marking the Soviet Union’s World War Two victory over Germany.

Lukashenko also did not speak at an event in Minsk marking the anniversary for the first time in his long presidency. That event was the last time he was seen in public.

Lukashenko’s office has declined to comment.

According to the opposition news outlet Euroradio, Lukashenko was taken to an elite Minsk clinic on Saturday.

lukashenko-mb-0946-32b10e.jpg 2x, https://media-cldnry.s-nbcnews.com/image/upload/t_fit-760w,f_auto,q_auto:best/rockcms/2023-05/230515-lukashenko-mb-0946-32b10e.jpg 1x”/Belarus leader Lukashenko's absence at ceremony sparks health speculation
Lukashenko, second from left, during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Kremlin wall in Moscow on May 9.Alexey Maishev / AP

A Russian online publication, Podyom, quoted a senior member of the Duma lower house of parliament, Konstantin Zatulin, as saying that “(Lukashenko) has simply fallen ill … and probably needs a rest.”

Russia’s daily Kommersant also published a story about Lukashenko’s health, citing Zatulin and Belarusian opposition media. Russian media rarely publish stories about the health of the leaders of Russia or its allied neighbors.

Lukashenko, 68, has led Belarus since 1994, using police to put down protests, while courts closed dissident media outlets and imposed long jail terms on opponents, and activists fled the country en masse.

Lukashenko received backing from Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin in squashing protests, and last year he allowed his country’s territory to be used as part of

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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.

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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

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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

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