After speculations on his health condition: The Belarusian president announced his country is on high alert
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced on Monday that his country is on alert since four planes were shot down over the weekend in Russia, which Moscow hasn’t officially recognized.
On Saturday, Russian news agencies reported that a helicopter had crashed in the Bryansk region on the border with Ukraine, citing a fire in the engine.
However, other sources indicated that Ukraine shot down four planes, two helicopters and two fighters, in the airspace of Bryansk, which was neither confirmed nor denied by the Russian army.
However, during a visit to the Belarusian army’s command center, Lukashenko, a key ally of the Kremlin, cited worrying developments that had prompted Minsk to put itself on higher alert.
“I’m talking about the Bryansk region, where four planes were shot down,” the Belarusian president said in a statement released by the presidency.
These statements, attributed by the presidency to Lukashenko, come while his absence from several public events in the past days has sparked speculation about the health status of the 68-year-old Belarusian president.
The Belarusian presidency published three photos of Lukashenko as part of an apparent effort to stop the speculation.
In these photos, the president appears tired and his left hand is wrapped in bandages.
Lukashenko’s last filmed public appearance dates back to May 9, when he went to Moscow to attend the victory celebrations over Nazi Germany in 1945.
Several Russian journalists confirmed at the time that he looked tired.
In addition, he didn’t attend a lunch hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin and didn’t address the Belarusian war veterans on May 9 in Minsk, contrary to tradition, and he also missed national celebrations in Belarus on Sunday.
On Monday, the leader of the Belarusian opposition in exile, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, confirmed “many rumors circulating about the health condition of the dictator Lukashenko,” calling on her citizens to “be ready for any scenario”.
In response to a question about the health status of the President of Belarus, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called on journalists to “trust only official information”.
Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994 with an iron fist.
After a massive protest movement against his controversial re-election, which, according to non-governmental organizations, was marred by widespread fraud in 2020, his regime launched a campaign of severe repression that continues to this day.
In parallel, and while his relationship with Europe was strained, he drew closer with Putin and supported his invasion of Ukraine immediately after its launch in February 2022.