(Reuters) – The long-serving Belarusian foreign minister died suddenly two days before he was scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart, the state-run Belta news agency reported on Saturday.
“Foreign Minister Vladimir Macky passed away suddenly,” Belta said, without giving further details. Mackey has held the position since 2012.
Mackie, 64, attended a conference of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – a military alliance of several post-Soviet states – in Yerevan earlier this week and was due to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Monday.
Prior to the presidential election and mass anti-government protests in Belarus in 2020, Makei was one of the initiators of efforts to improve Belarus’ relations with the West and was critical of Russia.
However, he abruptly changed his position after the protests began, saying they were inspired by agents of the West.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, Macky, a supporter of close ties between Moscow and Minsk, said the West had provoked the war and that Ukrainian authorities should agree to Russia’s peace terms.
A few days before the start of the war, Mackie promised that there would be no attack on Ukraine from the territory of Belarus. A few days later, the Russian forces proved him wrong.
“We are shocked by reports about the death of the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, Vladimir Makei,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, posted on her Telegram channel. “The official condolences will be published soon,” he added.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who has retained power despite the 2020 protests, also expressed his condolences.
Commenting on the death of the minister, the exiled opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya called Maki a traitor to the Belarusian people.
“In 2020, Maki betrayed the Belarusian people and supported autocracy. This is how the Belarusian people will remember him,” Tsikhanouskaya said.
Reporting by Reuters. Editing by Mark Heinrichs, David Holmes, and Barbara Lewis
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
. “Proud zombie lover. Evil pop culture buff. Amateur thinker. Total food practitioner. Tv evangelist.”