Belarus releases Lukashenko video amid health speculation

Belarus releases Lukashenko video amid health speculation

A photo of the 68-year-old Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, has been published by state news agency Pul Pervovo amid growing rumours about his health.

The Telegram channel post showed Lukashenko with a bandaged left hand, saying he was working at a central air force base. State television broadcast a clip of Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994, purportedly at an air force base, sitting and talking to officers. He was wearing a military uniform and appeared short of breath at times.

The dictator’s whereabouts were unknown for almost a week.

Lukashenko was last seen in public last Tuesday at the Victory Day parades in Moscow and Minsk.

A picture in Moscow showed him looking sick with a bandaged right hand.

Lukashenko failed to attend the annual Day of State Emblems celebration in Minsk on Sunday with Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko reading on the president’s behalf.

Lukashenko left Red Square in a buggy for the wreath-laying ceremony while other regional leaders walked with Vladimir Putin to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

In Minsk Lukashenko at another wreath-laying ceremony failed for the first time in his presidency to give a Victory Day speech.

The exiled leader of the Belarusian opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, tweeted: “There are many rumours about the dictator Lukashenko’s health. For us, it means only one thing: we should be well prepared for every scenario. To turn Belarus on the path to democracy and to prevent Russia from interfering. We need the international community to be proactive and fast.”

Tsikhanouskaya’s husband is in jail in Belarus and she left in 2020 as huge street protests broke out against Lukashenko after he claimed a huge victory over her in a presidential election, only for the demonstrations to be crushed,

Franak Viacorka, an adviser to Tsikhanouskaya, said on Sunday that the opposition was working on a joint-action plan with democratic forces for “when something happens”. Tsikhanouskaya has made similar comments since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine but so far there has been little evidence of an insurrection against the state or Russian forces that used Belarus to launch their botched assault on Kyiv.

Big and little dictators. Picture credit: Kremlin

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