Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, skips the occasion, causing health rumors.
Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, missed a significant public holiday, which has increased health rumors.
The 68-year-old autocrat usually addresses the crowd at the annual National Flag, Emblem, and Anthem Day celebration, but on Sunday his prime minister read a statement in his place.
Shortly after the Victory Day parade last week, Mr. Lukashenko left Moscow, skipping lunch with President Vladimir Putin.
The right hand of Mr. Lukashenko was bandaged, and he appeared to be exhausted.
He was last saw in the open on May 9 during Belarus’ own Victory Day celebrations in the capital Minsk while laying flowers. He had just returned from the Russian capital.
On Saturday night, Mr. Lukashenko reportedly visited a presidential medical center just outside of Minsk, according to an opposition Telegram channel. However, this information has not been independently verified.
The office of Mr. Lukashenko has not yet commented on the situation.
Mr. Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994 and is sometimes referred to in the West as Europe’s last dictator, represses any criticism.
He was declared the winner of presidential elections in 2020, which the opposition branded fraudulent.
During massive anti-government riots that shook the nation, thousands of people were later detained and horribly beaten by riot police and KGB secret service operatives.
But with the support of Russia, Mr. Lukashenko was able to maintain his position.
Last year, he offered Belarus as a staging area for Russian forces to enter Ukraine and permitted Russian warplanes to begin strikes from Belarusian territory, supporting President Putin’s full-scale invasion of that country.