Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei, a close ally of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, has died at age 64, the state news agency Belta reported Saturday.
No cause of death was given.
Prior to becoming foreign minister in 2012, Makei was Lukashenko’s chief of staff.
During his tenure, Belarus came under repeated criticism from the West for an increasingly harsh suppression of the opposition, for dubious elections and for allowing Russian troops to be based there during the war in Ukraine.
In September, he defended Belarus’ position to the United Nations Security Council.
“Belarus is referred to as an ‘accomplice of the aggressor’ or even a party to the conflict. We have said and continue to say: Belarus has never advocated the war. But we are not traitors either! We have allied commitments, and we are strictly following and will follow the spirit and letter of international treaties to which we are parties,” he said.