long-standing Belarus chancellor has died suddenlythe country’s foreign ministry said on Saturday, two days before he met his Russian counterpart.

“Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei has passed away,” the Republic of Belarus Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet. Makei had held his position since 2012.

Makei, 64, attended a conference of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance of several post-Soviet states, in Yerevan earlier this week and was scheduled to meet on Monday with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

Prior to the presidential election and mass anti-government protests in Belarus in 2020, Makei had been one of the initiators of efforts to improve Belarus’ relations with the West and had been critical of Russia.

However, he abruptly changed his stance after the start of the protests, saying they were inspired by agents of the West.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February, Makei, a supporter of close ties between Moscow and Minsk, said the West had provoked the war and Ukrainian authorities should accept Russian peace terms.

A few days before the start of the war, Makei promised that there would be no attack on Ukraine from the territory of Belarus. A few days later, the Russian troops proved him wrong.

“We are shocked by the reports about the death of the Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, Vladimir Makei,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova posted on her Telegram channel.

«Official condolences will be released soon.»

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who retained power despite 2020 protests, also expressed condolences.

Exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, commenting on the minister’s death, called Makei a traitor to the Belarusian people.

“In 2020, Makei betrayed the Belarusian people and supported tyranny. This is how the Belarusian people will remember him,” Tsikhanouskaya said.