Belarus' dictator Lukashenko rushed to hospital after collapsing in Russia
Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian dictator who has maintained his loyalty to Russian President Vladimir Putin throughout the conflict in Ukraine, has reportedly fallen ill and been rushed to the hospital in Moscow, according to the Daily Mail.
Lukashenko, 68, was said to be in critical condition after having collapsed while in Russia to meet with Putin, the latest in a series of health woes to befall the controversial leader.
The opposition leader in Belarus, Valery Tsepkalo, revealed, “According to the information we have, which needs additional confirmation, Lukashenko – after meeting with Putin behind closed doors – was urgently taken to the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow, where he is now located.”
Further reports suggested that Lukashenko was indeed in “critical” condition, requiring that his blood be “purified,” as the Mail noted, and he was not cleared for a return trip home.
In light of the many suspicious deaths of high-ranking Russian political figures and oligarchs in recent years, speculation has already begun to circulate that Lukashenko may have been poisoned by agents close to Putin.
Referencing such rumors, Tsepkalo added, “The organized measures to save the Belarusin dictator were intended to ward off speculation about the possible participation of the Kremlin in his poisoning.”
Persistent Health Speculation
The health of Lukashenko has been the subject of much discussion for at least the last month, with his appearance earlier in May at a Victory Day commemoration in Moscow having sparked concern, as PBS Newshour reported. Said to have looked “pale and bloated,” Lukashenko bowed out of additional appearances surrounding the celebration, spurring further rumors about his condition.
Even so, the official state media arm went to great lengths to portray the leader as sufficiently vigorous to inspect an air force installation and greet military officers, clearly hoping to dispel further discussion of his health.
On May 15, state media released new images of Lukashenko in an attempt to assuage speculation, though, as the Mail noted, it appeared as though he was sporting some type of catheter on his arm.
The leader himself made an effort to quell chatter on the topic, saying last week that he had simply been battling a case of “adenovirus,” quipping, “So, I'm not planning to die, guys.”
Though the precise state of Lukashenko's current health and possible prognosis remain unclear, political analyst Dmitry Bolkunets declared, “Information about the deterioration of Lukasheno's health is confirmed,” according to the Mail.
“He is in the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow. They are trying to put him on his feet and show the public,” Bolkunets added.
Signaling a potentially severe scenario, however, was the analyst's subsequent comment that there remains the possibility that the dictator's powers could be “transferred to [upper house speaker] Natalya Kochanova...or the collective Security Council.”
Though Kochanova is known to be loyal to both Lukashenko and Putin, BNEIntellinews noted that many experts on the subject doubt that the Kremlin would have ordered the current dictator's poisoning as a means to usher her into authority, given that the sort of chaotic power struggle that could ensue in country would be unnecessarily destabilizing.
“Nuclear Weapons for Everyone”
Prior to his most recent health emergency, Lukashenko made news late last week when he weighed in on the potential benefits on offer for countries willing to align with Russia and Belarus, as NBC News reported.
Speaking close on the heels of Russia's decision to transfer nuclear weapons into Belarus, Lukashenko said, “It's very simple. You have to join the union between Belarus and Russia, and that's it: There will be nuclear weapons for everyone.”
Emphasizing that he was speaking on his own accord, the dictator added, “I think it's possible. We need to strategically understand that we have a unique chance to unite.”
In response to Russia's movement of nuclear weapons into Belarus, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the U.S. has “not seen any reason to adjust our own nuclear posture,” according to the Mail, while the State Department declared the deployment “the latest example of irresponsible behavior” from Putin.