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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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Migrant Lives

A Train Journey With Bengal Migrants Looking For A Living Far Away

Finding a seat on the Karmabhoomi Express is close to impossible. A closer look at why so many migrant workers travel on it, and out of Bengal, offers a grim picture.

image of a train

The Karmabhoomi Express runs from Kamakhya to Mumbai in a 3 day journey.

India Rail Info
Joydeep Sarkar

WEST BENGAL — Welcome aboard the 22512 Kamakhya-LTT Karmabhoomi Express — a metaphor, if any, of the acuteness of Bengal’s unemployment problem.

It is 10.28 pm at north Bengal’s Alipurduar Junction and the crowd has swollen to its peak. This is when the Karmabhoomi Express appears at the station. It is bound for Mumbai. Finding a seat on it is close to impossible. It is always chock full and there are always hundreds struggling to get a spot in the unreserved general compartment.

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