“I’m not going to die”

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko responded to rumors of his poor health on Tuesday, amid speculation that the leader had been ill since appearing at Victory Day celebrations in Moscow’s Red Square on May 9.

“I’m not going to die, guys,” Lukashenko, 68, told officials in a video released by state-run media outlet Pul Pervovo, which reports on the president’s activities.

Lukashenko’s health was the subject of intense speculation after his appearance in Red Square during which he appeared slightly ill.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (L) greets his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin ahead of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit in Minsk November 30, 2017. Lukashenko responded to rumors of his poor health on Tuesday.

Lukashenko was pictured at the May 9 event with a bandage on his right arm, but skipped other parts of the commemorations, cutting short his appearance on the day that marks the Soviet Union’s role in World War II .

He also missed an annual ceremony on May 14 in which allegiance to the Belarusian flag is celebrated. Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko read a message on behalf of Lukashenko at the event.

A Russian lawmaker, Konstantin Zatulin, first deputy chairman of Russia’s State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, also weighed in on the speculation, suggesting that Lukashenko had been ill before the Victory Day parade.

“But even though the man fell ill, he thought it was a matter of duty to come to Moscow and hold events in Minsk later that day. He probably just needs a bit of rest is all there is to it,” Zatulin said. said.

Lukashenko has brushed off rumors that he may be seriously ill, telling officials on Tuesday that he had a cold virus and recovered quickly.

“If anyone thinks I’m about to die, calm down. Calm down,” Lukashenko said. “It’s nothing more than chatter on messengers and Telegram channels.”

Lukashenko suggested his presidential duties could have hampered his recovery time.

“I did not have the opportunity to get treatment, I had to go to Moscow, then to Leningrad, then to subotniki [volunteer activities]. And then you dragged me to Grodno, to the square, we kissed there with these girls, then to Gomel with [Ivan] Krupko [head of Gomel region]. It all added up,” he said.

“I’m not going to die, guys. You will have to fight with me for a very long time,” Lukashenko added.

Lukashenko is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. While Belarus, a staunch Kremlin ally, has not directly joined the Ukrainian conflict, Russian troops have been allowed to exercise on Belarusian territory since before the war started. The country was used by Russia to launch its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

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