Man who lost mother to coronavirus files police case against Belarus leader

By Dmitriy Turlyun and Maria Vasilyeva MOSCOW (Reuters) - A man living France who lost his mother to the coronavirus has filed a police case against the leader of his native Belarus, accusing President Alexander Lukashenko of failing to take adequate measures to fight the spread of the pandemic. Aleksander Matveyev said he had reported Lukashenko to Belarus police for investigation over the death of his mother, Lydia Matveyeva, 68, who died on April 2 in a hospital in Vitebsk, a city in northeast Belarus.

Reuters April 16, 2020 00:12:23 IST
Man who lost mother to coronavirus files police case against Belarus leader

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By Dmitriy Turlyun and Maria Vasilyeva

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A man living France who lost his mother to the coronavirus has filed a police case against the leader of his native Belarus, accusing President Alexander Lukashenko of failing to take adequate measures to fight the spread of the pandemic.

Aleksander Matveyev said he had reported Lukashenko to Belarus police for investigation over the death of his mother, Lydia Matveyeva, 68, who died on April 2 in a hospital in Vitebsk, a city in northeast Belarus.

"Lukashenko did not take the necessary measures in time," her son told Reuters in a video call. "And if this person who exercises power does not take those measures, he does nothing, he should be held accountable like any other citizen."

Lukashenko, in power since 1994, has been one of the world leaders most publicly sceptical about the need for strong action to curb the coronavirus . He has criticised suggestions that he order a lockdown, suggested remedies such as drinking vodka and visiting saunas, and called fear of the virus "psychosis".

Challenged by a journalist in late March over a decision to take part in a hockey match, he said: "There are no viruses here. Did you see any of them flying around?"

The Belarus health ministry, which encourages people to reduce contact to prevent the spread of the coronavirus , says 36 people in Belarus have died of it. But Lukashenko has said all victims had other health problems. On Monday he said he believed nobody in Belarus would be killed by the virus.

Matveyeva's death certificate, an image of which was sent to Reuters by her family, records her "main cause of death" as "coronavirus".

"From the very beginning I was calling and asking if it was the coronavirus . And they told me no, no, it's viral pneumonia," her son said. "I found out about the coronavirus diagnosis only when, after her death, it was on the certificate."

Lukashenko's office and the interior ministry did not respond to a request for comment. A person who answered the phone in the hospital director's office declined to comment on Matveyeva's death.

(Reporting by Dmitriy Turlyun and Maria Vasilyeva in Moscow; Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Peter Graff)

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