Speculation about the health of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a key ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has grown after he reportedly left Moscow’s Victory Day celebrations early.
Lukashenko, who has supported Putin amid the Russian leader’s widely-condemned invasion of Ukraine, appeared at Moscow’s festivities on May 9. Victory Day is Moscow’s celebration of Nazi Germany’s defeat during World War II, known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War. Putin once again was the main figure of the annual festivities, delivering a speech at Red Square accompanied by a military parade.
Meanwhile, Lukashenko was photographed at the event with a visible bandage on his right arm and was the only head of state in attendance who did not join Putin in laying down flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, fueling speculation about his health. He then allegedly returned to Minsk early due to health reasons, rather than attend a meal with Putin and other leaders.
The Belarusian government has remained tight-lipped amid speculation about the president’s health as he has avoided public appearances after returning to the Belarusian capital.
Anton Geraschenko, an adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, on Saturday questioned why Lukashenko has not made any public appearances since then.
“On 9th May in Moscow Lukashenko looked sick, had a bandaged hand and left for Minsk early. Back in Belarus, he didn’t deliver the 9th May speech for the first time ever. Lukashenko hasn’t appeared in public since then. His absence is the number one topic in Belarus unofficial media. Today, information appeared that Lukashenko and his entourage have some type of flu. Interesting,” he tweeted.
Pavel Latushka, an oppositionist Belarusian politician, also questioned Lukashenko’s wellbeing on Saturday.
“Lukashenka has disappeared. He’s been gone for 4 days. Was he sick, was he poisoned, or is he faking it?” he asked in a tweet.
Author Volodymyr Tretyak tweeted on Friday, “Has anyone seen #Lukashenko after the 9th May reports that he felt sick in Moscow?”
Newsweek reached out to Lukashenko’s office for comment via email.
Lukashenko Remains Key Putin Ally
Lukashenko’s office has not updated his weekly schedule with any events since his visit to Moscow on May 9. Lukashenko has been one of Putin’s biggest supporters amid the Ukraine war, even allowing Russia’s military to enter Ukraine from Belarusian borders. He has also urged Russia and Ukraine to head to the negotiating table to end the war “without preconditions.”
Speculation, fueled by Belarusian military drills, has also grown in recent months that Lukashenko could bring his military into the Ukraine invasion, though he has not confirmed this. In February, Lukashenko said Belarus would join the war “if at least one soldier from there comes to the territory of Belarus to kill my people.”