Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko “will not recover” to full health following his latest illness, insiders have claimed, after a third bout of poor health in as many years. The 68-year-old puppet of Vladimir Putin disappeared from public view for six days following his premature departure from Moscow on May 9 during the Victory Day parade. Though he has since returned to his duties, meeting with the Russian governor of Vladimir Oblast this week, sources told Express.co.uk that he has retained a “scratchy throat” and is on the decline.
Rumours concerning the details of his illness are abounding while the state remains silent. Using sources within Belarus, as well as the exiled opposition leader and a former foreign official, we have put together everything we know about the state of Lukashenko’s health.
When pictures emerged of Lukashenko at the Victory Parade in Moscow, commentators remarked that the Belarusian dictator appeared to be grimacing, while he had bandages on his right hand. When he appeared six days later, outside a military facility, his other hand had been bandaged.
While in Moscow, he was not able to join the quarter-mile walk to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, making use of a golf cart instead.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, he also declined to give a speech and left the Russian capital before a planned lunch with Vladimir Putin and other central Asian leaders.
He then failed to appear at a key event in Minsk five days later celebrating the national symbols of Belarus. Roman Golovchenko, the prime minister, read an address on his behalf.
A day earlier, on Saturday, having remained in his residence since returning from Russia on the Tuesday, the entrance to the Police Republican Clinical Medical centre in Minsk “was blocked and security forces were standing along the roads”, according to Belarusian opposition channels.
Lukashenko was not seen and the state media offered no comment, but opposition outlets maintained that the dictator had been brought to the hospital at 5pm that afternoon.
A confidential source within Minsk told Express.co.uk that, according to their information, Lukahsenko had stayed in that hospital for two hours before being driven back to his residence just after 7pm.
The specifics of his illness are a closely-guarded secret – an identical policy is employed by the Kremlin regarding the state of Vladimir Putin, who is rumoured to have cancer or Parkinson’s – but public footage of the dictator has betrayed his facade.
Pavel Slunkin, a former official in the foreign ministry who fled to Poland after the 2020 election scandal, described Lukashenko’s recent departure from the public eye as “unprecedented”.
He said it was the third time in three years that Lukashenko had suffered from a “scratchy throat”, which was the reason he did not speak at the Victory Day parade.
While this illness did not appear symptomatic of a terminal or prolonged disease, Mr Slunkin added, the Belarusian dictator is suffering “serious problems with his health” and is only “recovering slowly”.
The scratchy voice is “something that has been happening to Lukashenko in the last few years pretty often”, he said.
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Regarding his inability to walk the quarter-mile walk to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, he said this concerned Lukashenko’s “problematic knee”, as opposed to his illness, for which he had surgery in November 2014.
Mr Slunkin declined to offer an exact diagnosis of Lukashenko’s illness but suggested it was likely a “viral or bacterial infection”.
The confidential source, who had seen the President’s plans, added that Lukashenko had always intended to leave Moscow prior to the lunch with Putin, as he had been ill for several days prior to flying to the Russian capital.
They added that “what can be said unambiguously is that after this disease, Lukashenko clearly will not become stronger, or even as strong as he was”.
Sviatalana Tsikhanouskaya said she believed Lukashenko’s “disappearance” was being seized upon by many in Belarus waiting for “the moment of change”.
She said: “It all sparked discussions in society, what if he dies? We feel that many people around him are also waiting for the moment of change. For us, the democratic forces, it means only one thing: we should be well prepared for every scenario.
“On one hand, to turn Belarus on the path to democracy, and on the other hand, to prevent Russia from interfering. And we need the international community to be proactive and fast.”
Lukashenko may have resumed diplomatic service – he met with the governor of Vladimir Oblast, Alexander Avdeyev, on Tuesday – but insiders believe he has suffered irreparable damage, and the opposition is preparing their next move.
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