Belarus President Blames US Sanctions for Iran President's Death in Helicopter Crash
Belarus President Blames US Sanctions for Iran President's Death in Helicopter Crash

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has pointed fingers at Western sanctions as a significant factor in the death of Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, despite Iranian authorities denying any foul play in the incident. Raisi, aged 63, tragically died on May 19 when his helicopter caught fire and crashed in Iran's mountainous northwest. He was laid to rest in his hometown of Mashhad on Thursday.

Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, made these remarks during a joint press conference with Putin. He criticized the United States for imposing sanctions that, according to him, prevented American companies from maintaining and servicing the helicopter used by Raisi.

"As a person, and not as a president, I will say that the vile, disgusting position of the United States led to this," Lukashenko was quoted by Almayadeen as saying. "I mean, first of all, the sanctions. These scoundrels had no right to impose sanctions against ships, against planes, helicopters that transport people… They banned their companies from servicing [Raisi’s helicopter]. Therefore, this is also their fault."

Lukashenko emphasized that regardless of the helicopter's age or usage frequency, proper maintenance could have prevented the tragedy. "Maybe it has been used three times only in these fifty years, it would be fine if properly serviced – but they forbade their companies as well to maintain it. Therefore, this is also their fault. They forbade servicing that helicopter. That's true," he said, as reported by Belarus Today.

Meanwhile, a preliminary report by the general staff of the armed forces, published by the official IRNA news agency late on Thursday, stated that no bullet holes or similar impacts were observed on the helicopter wreckage, as reported by AFP.

Key findings from the preliminary report:

No suspicious content was observed during the communications between the watch tower and the flight crew.

Raisi's helicopter had been flying on a "pre-planned route and did not leave the designated flight path" before the crash.

The wreckage was found by Iranian drones early on Monday, but the "complexity of the area, fog and low temperature" hampered search and rescue efforts.

The army mentioned that further investigation is needed, promising to provide more details in due course.

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