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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Is Lukashenko Sick? Putin Too? Why Ukraine Won't Be Waiting For Dictators To Die

A spate of speculation on the health of Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko follows similar reports about would-be Vladimir Putin illnesses. Such talk feeds the hope of the Russian opposition and many in the West. Ukrainians have a different agenda — and timetable.

Photo of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (center) in Moscow on May 9

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (center) in Moscow on May 9

Anna Akage


Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko was not enjoying the parade.

Appearing in Moscow’s Red Square for the May 9 Victory Day celebration, the 68-year-old strongman looked quite ill, and wore a bandage on his arm.

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He missed the Kremlin breakfast and didn't take the walk with Vladimir Putin and other heads of state across the Square to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, reaching it by electric car instead, reports independent Russian news outlet Agents.Media reports reports.

When he then missed the Belarus celebration of the Day of the State Flag, Emblem and Anthem, rumors started to circulate that Lukashenko might have a serious health problem.

And for nearly a week, he vanished.

On Monday evening, images of Lukashenko were finally released, as reported by the Belarusian newspaper NEXTA. According to the journalists, the president was in intensive care and his condition, judging by the latest footage, was serious. According to the newspaper's sources, the dictator was unable to give orders even to the press service — so there was no information about him in recent days.

Simply waiting for Putin to disappear

The news about Lukashenko's illness will briefly overshadow the steady trickle of information about Russian President Vladimir Putin's many possible diseases, diagnoses, and forecasts of an imminent demise.

Since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, one possible endgame scenario the world followed was simply waiting for the Russian dictator to die. Add to that, the uncertain fate of the not-too-healthy Belarusian leader would round out the plot quite nicely.

Ukrainians more than anyone want it all to end tomorrow.

And yet, these are the dreams of those Russians and Belarusians who are very unhappy with the war and socio-economic situation in their countries, convinced that the dictator's death would change everything. One mortal man as the singular embodiment of evil. If he disappears, peace will reign and the nation shall prosper. That is the dream.

Ukrainians don't have such dreams. We know that the war will not end with Putin's death.

The concentric circles of Russian business and military elites are supporting and driving this war.

Image of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko welcoming Russian President Vladimir Putin in his arms.

Lukashenko and Putin, in sickness and in health?

Sergei Karpukhin/TASS/ZUMA

Fantasies of a quick end

Contrary to all logic, even the deplorable state of the Russian economy and isolation from the rest of the world is a convenient environment for their continued existence. Outside this system they are nothing, the end of the war for them is like the end of the corrupt Russia in which they know how to live and rule.

So to bide one’s time and count on the death of a dictator is merely an attempt to detach ourselves from our immediate present and turn over our collective future to the whim of fate. To hope that the tyrants will somehow vanish on their own is just another way to allow them to continue to exist and rule.

In Ukraine, we have the learned this lesson the hard way. Not only more recently from Russia's attempts to seize our land, but also from rotating czars and Soviet politburo chiefs through the decades and centuries past. It is the system, in the end, not the beating heart of any one man that must stop.

I understand the temptation to fantasize about a quick and bloodless end to the war. Ukrainians more than anyone want it all to end tomorrow. But we will not be spending today waiting for Putin or any other tyrant to die. It’s a fool’s pastime. Our life is in our own hands, and our future will be made by our actions not our hopes. Or to put it more plainly, citing the refrain of a famous Ukrainian song: "With the help of the AFU"! The Armed Forces of Ukraine…

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

After Abbas: Here Are The Three Frontrunners To Be The Next Palestinian Leader

Israel and the West have often asked: Where is the Palestinian Mandela? The divided regimes between Gaza and the West Bank continues to make it difficult to imagine the future Palestinian leader. Still, these three names are worth considering.

Photo of Mahmoud Abbas speaking into microphone

Abbas is 88, and has been the leading Palestinian political figure since 2005

Thaer Ganaim/APA Images via ZUMA
Elias Kassem

Updated Dec. 5, 2023 at 12:05 a.m.

Israel has set two goals for its Gaza war: destroying Hamas and releasing hostages.

But it has no answer to, nor is even asking the question: What comes next?

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the return of the current Palestinian Authority to govern post-war Gaza. That stance seems opposed to the U.S. Administration’s call to revitalize the Palestinian Authority (PA) to assume power in the coastal enclave.

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But neither Israel nor the U.S. put a detailed plan for a governing body in post-war Gaza, let alone offering a vision for a bonafide Palestinian state that would also encompass the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority, which administers much of the occupied West Bank, was created in1994 as part of the Oslo Accords peace agreement. It’s now led by President Mahmoud Abbas, who succeeded Yasser Arafat in 2005. Over the past few years, the question of who would succeed Abbas, now 88 years old, has largely dominated internal Palestinian politics.

But that question has gained new urgency — and was fundamentally altered — with the war in Gaza.

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