Circumstances are unclear: Belarusian Foreign Minister dies “suddenly”

circumstances are unclear
Belarusian foreign minister dies “suddenly”

There is talk of a “sudden death,” but there are no details: Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makej dies at the age of 64. At times he was traded as a possible successor to dictator Lukashenko.

According to the state news agency Belta, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makej has died. Belta reported that Makej had turned 64 years old. The report speaks of a “sudden death” without giving further details. Nothing was known about diseases. The diplomat had been foreign minister under President Alexander Lukashenko since 2012. Before his time as minister, he had been head of his presidential administration since 2008 and was at times also traded as a possible successor to Lukashenko.

Makej has long campaigned for an improvement in his country’s relations with the West and has also criticized its ally, Russia. However, he backed away from this course after mass popular protests against the presidential election in 2020. He described the protests as a campaign by Western agents. This week Makej attended a summit of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in the Armenian capital Yerevan.

Belarus, the closest ally of its neighbor Russia, has been sanctioned by Western states for human rights violations and the repression of opposition figures. The country supports Russia in its war against the common neighbor Ukraine, but does not take part in the invasion itself.

There were first expressions of condolence from Russia. “We are shocked by the reports of the death of Belarus’ foreign minister,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. Lukashenko has been in power in the former Soviet republic for more than a quarter of a century.

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