Speculation is rising that Vladimir Putin’s close war ally, Belarus tyrant Alexander Lukashenko is seriously ill – or even dead.
He has not been seen since in public since last Tuesday.
He attended Russia’s Victory Day military parade last week and then Belarus’ similar celebration where he didn’t speak, The Sun reports.
The Duma, Belarus’ parliament, announced late day on May 14 that Lukashenko is sick, but “does not have Covid”.
First deputy chairman of the Duma said: “There’s nothing so supernatural there, it’s not Covid. A person just got sick.
“Despite the fact that the person fell ill, he considered it his duty to come to Moscow, and then in the evening of the same day he held events in Minsk. Probably needs some rest, that’s all.”
Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikahnouskaya told The Sun today: “There are many rumours about Lukashenko’s health. He just disappeared from public space, and even propaganda doesn’t know how to comment.
“Lukashenko – like every dictator – likes to control everything and to make the impression that he is invincible or almost immortal, and now, suddenly — silence.
“It has sparked discussions in society – what if he dies? We feel that many people around him are also waiting for the moment of change.”
Ms Tsikhanouskaya said if Lukashenko was to die, democratic forces in Belarus should be well prepared to turn Belarus back towards democracy, and to prevent Russia from interfering further in the country.
She continued: “We need the international community to be proactive and fast.”
Images of him at the Moscow parade show him visibly fatigued, with one of his hands bandaged.
Rumours suggested the 68-year-old puppet leader was hospitalised at an elite clinic in Belarus’ capital of Minsk with claims he was “in a medical coma”.
Putin – who is also the subject of health rumours – was reportedly shocked at Lukashenko’s condition in Moscow and tried to call him after his return to Minsk but was unable to get through.
Some rumours have claimed Lukashenko suffered a myocardial infarction, Covid-related problems – or even poisoning.
Belarusian opposition leader Pavel Latushka said: “He’s been gone for four days now. Sick, poisoned, simulating?
“We [the opposition] are working on implementation of a plan in case of Lukashenko’s death.”
An unconfirmed account today is that Lukashenko came through “unpleasant” surgery unrelated to his heart and is stable.
His office has not commented, causing rumours to escalate.
Belarus expert, Russian pro-war academic Andrey Suzdaltsev, said: “Lukashenko came well through the surgery. He is feeling not bad … he is recovering.”
In the days before his disappearance from public view, Lukashenko was seemingly unable to walk a distance less than a quarter of a mile on Red Square after the parade.
He was also rumoured to have been publicly pleading with Putin to provide him a buggy over the cobbled stones to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
He then failed to speak at his own Victory Day event in Minsk later the same day, with state media broadcasting footage of him from the previous year.
New footage of him a few days before his disappearance shows him walking slowly and awkwardly with his three sons.
At one point Lukashenko held his hand close on his chest, as his son Viktor gave a concerned look in his direction, while other son Nikolai clenched his fists.
Russian Telegram channels have suggested that Lukashenko is ill with a “long-running but unspecified condition” that requires surgery.
One channel claimed: “The Belarus leader is in the hospital, he is being prepared for an operation – and maybe the operation has already been performed”.
Some reports have suggested he requires Western surgery but cannot obtain this due to sanctions over his rigging of the 2020 presidential election in Belarus, and backing for Putin in the war against Ukraine.
Ukrainian source Union alleged the overweight dictator – who has ruled Belarus almost three decades – suffers “very serious ailments of the endocrine system and cardiac diseases”.
Russian sources believe Lukashenko has previously feigned illness to avoid being strongarmed by Putin.
The Belarus leader has permitted Russian troops and air force on his landlocked territory bordering Ukraine, he has not committed his forces to the war.
He has also resisted Putin’s bid to fully absorb Belarus into Russia.
In 2020, Lukashenko awarded himself a landslide by rigging the ballot on a grand scale in an election overwhelmingly won by Ms Tsikhanouskaya, who was forced into exile.
His eldest son Viktor, 47, who has been a top security official, may seek to continue the tyrannical Lukashenko dynasty relying on Moscow’s support.
The death of the dictator is may see Putin seek to integrate Belarus into Russia – even using military force to do so.
This story appeared in The Sun and is reproduced with permission.