Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Vladimir Putin's only close Ukraine war ally, has insisted "I'm not going to die" following rumours that his health was failing.
There were claims Lukashenko had been "poisoned" after Russia's Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9.
Suggestions that his health was failing first came about after he was pictured watching on with a bandage around his hand.
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Belarusian political analyst Dmitry Bolkunets reported on Telegram that Lukashenko did not join Putin and the other leaders for a scheduled lunch.
Instead Bolkunets said he left Moscow "due to health reasons". He was reportedly accompanied back to the airport by an ambulance.
Kyiv Post journalist Jason Jay Smart said on Twitter that Bolkunets told him "it is possible that Lukashenko was poisoned".
On May 15 Belarusian state media released footage of Lukashenko for the first time since his abrupt departure from Moscow. Again he had a bandage, this time on the other hand, and spoke in an incredibly laboured voice.
On Tuesday (May 23) Lukashenko dismissed rumours that he could be gravely ill and told officials he had recovered quickly from a common virus.
He said: "If someone thinks I'm about to die, calm down.
"It's nothing more than chatter on messengers and Telegram channels.
"I didn't have the opportunity to get treated. I had to go to Moscow, then Leningrad, then subotniki [volunteer activities]. And then you dragged me to Grodno… all that piled up."
He added: "I'm not going to die, guys. You'll have to struggle with me for a very long time to come."
Pavel Latushka, a former Belarusian government official who is now an opposition activist, previously cited government sources as saying Lukashenko had a viral infection with a complication of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle).
There were also rumours he was recently taken to an elite clinic in Minsk.
Lukashenko and Putin have become increasingly close since the latter launched his invasion of Ukraine, with neighbouring Belarus used as a launching point for attacks at times.
That said, Lukashenko has been wary of being drawn into direct military conflict with Ukraine.
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