Tallinn, Estonia: On Tuesday, Belarus held its state funeral for its Foreign Minister who suddenly died at the age of 64. There was speculation that foul play may have been involved in his death.
Belarusian authorities didn’t give the cause of Vladimir Makei’s death on Saturday. He wasn’t known to suffer from any chronic illness.
Some media and observers alleged without offering evidence that Makei could have been poisoned by security agencies of Belarus’ main ally Russia, which has warily watched Makei’s efforts to negotiate a rapprochement with the West.
For more than 20 years, Makei has been a close associate of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Many analysts saw his diplomatic maneuvering as part of Lukashenko’s efforts to improve ties with the West, which were frozen after a brutal crackdown on protests that followed his 2020 re-election that the opposition and the West deemed rigged.
Belarus’ relations with the West were further strained after the country hosted Russian troops that invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Lukashenko attended Makei’s funeral, touching his coffin but making no public statement.
Despite being loyal to Lukashenko during the crackdown, Makei was seen as more liberal than the Belarusian leader or other members of his entourage.
A day before his death, Makei met in Minsk with the Vatican’s envoy, Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Ante Jozic, in what some saw as part of Belarus’ maneuvering to mend ties with the West.