In a major development, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who is currently in Moscow, was rushed to the hospital amid reports of being "poisoned" after holding a crucial meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Notably, the 68-year-old Lukashenko is one of the closest allies of Putin ever since he launched a full-fledged war against Ukraine in February last year.
Although there was no official confirmation from either side, Belarus's opposition leader Valery Tsepkalo, in a social media post, alleged Russia was behind Lukashenko's alleged poisoning.
"According to our information, Lukashenko spent several days in the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow. Rehabilitation was carried out. The last available information about Lukashenko's condition and stay in the hospital was on Saturday," Tsepkalo wrote in a lengthy Twitter post.
Russian doctors signed a "nondisclosure paper"
He claimed that the Russian doctors prohibited him to fly by aeroplane and added there was no information on how, when and if he was returned to Minsk. According to him, the doctors signed the "nondisclosure paper".
Further, the Belarusian 2020 presidential candidate asserted that Russia has been hiding information in order to give Putin a "clean chit" from his alleged involvement. However, he did not furnish any proof to support his claims.
"We can not be distracted by Lukashenko's temporary appearance. The issue of power transit is a matter of months, if not weeks. Frequent relapses and emergency hospitalization only emphasize the need for an urgent strategic session of democratic forces with the participation of the EU, USA and other stakeholders. The focus should be on the strategy to work out the concepts of the transitional period and new elections," stressed Tsepkalo.
"It's evident that the Kremlin fears speculation regarding its involvement in his deteriorating health. The best doctors from across Moscow were gathered, and they were bluntly told by the special services, "if he dies, we all go down with him." More detailed information about his health condition will only be available on Monday," he added.
Is Moscow behind poisoning?
It is worth mentioning this was not the first time when the Belarusian President fell critically ill in Moscow. Earlier on May 9, when he visited Russia on its Victory Day, several media reported Lukashenko as being seriously ill and added he had cut short a Victory Day appearance in Red Square on May 9.
However, he resurfaced in public on May 15, where he was seen attending a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council with Putin and leaders of Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. He said, "I'm not going to die, guys," in the video. However, this time, it is critical to assess whether he suffered any natural illness or it was a Moscow-orchestrated effort.
Earlier this week, when Lukashenko met Putin, he signed a deal on Thursday formalizing the deployment of Moscow’s tactical nuclear weapons on Belarus territory, although control of the weapons remains in the Kremlin.