Aleksandr Grigoryevich Lukashenko (born 30 August 1954) is the President of Belarus, having been the country’s leader since 1994 and the longest-serving head of state in the former Soviet Union.
Before becoming president, he worked in the army, in the KGB border forces, was part of the youth organization of the Communist Party during the period when Belarus belonged to the Soviet Union, was in charge of several factories and farms and was the only deputy who opposed the agreement that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
A graduate of an Agricultural Academy, Lukashenko has an inclination towards this field, being known for the attention he gives to the administration of agriculture. In 2019, for example, following a visit he made to a farm, dissatisfied with the conditions in which he saw cattle being raised, he fired those responsible, including the Minister of Agriculture. On the website of the country’s presidency, Lukashenko wrote that he is “the president of ordinary people.”
Elections with song for “Europe’s last dictator”
Dubbed “Europe’s last dictator”, his re-election as the country’s leader on August 9, 2020 created much controversy and sparked protests, with many accusing him of rigging the votes (he won by 80% ). After the 2020 elections, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Ukraine and the United States did not recognize the result of the election, considering it “neither fair nor free”, and as a result, the vast majority of opposition leaders were imprisoned or they fled into exile.
On August 10, 2020, as a result of the discontent created against the backdrop of the election result, approximately 3,000 people demonstrating against Aleksandr Lukashenko were detained and several dozen injured during clashes with the police.
We want without you
On 16 August (2020), Lukashenko gave a speech to an estimated crowd of around 10,000 supporters, stating that Belarus was under threat from foreign interference. At the same time, the protesters, gathered in a crowd of more than 50,000 people, continued to riot demanding new presidential elections. After Poland, Lithuania and Latvia proposed to Belarus a mediation plan designed to resolve the political crisis in the country, Lukashenko responded to the representatives of the three nations by saying without wishing to offend the leaders of these republics, I would like to tell them to mind their own business.
On August 17, 2020, following a visit to a factory in Minsk, the Belarusian leader addressed striking protesting workers. You should never expect me to do anything under pressure. There will be no (new elections). You talk about fraudulent elections and want to organize new ones. The election has taken place and there won’t be another one until you kill me. The crowd responded then Yes, yes, we want without you.
The big prank
On September 23, 2020, the official investiture ceremony of Lukashenko, for the sixth consecutive term as president, took place in Minsk, a moment described by opposition politicians as a “meeting of thieves” and a “big farce”. Immediately after, the United States and a number of European Union member states issued statements rejecting the legitimacy of Lukashenko’s victory, while Russian President Vladimir Putin, a strong ally of the Belarusian leader, granted him a loan of 1.5 billions of dollars as a “gesture of support” during the protests.
In December 2020, following an investigation into the situation of athletes and sports activities in Belarus, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended Aleksandr Lukashenko “from all IOC events and activities, including the Olympic Games” due to “political discrimination” athletes from this country, and the appointment of his son Viktor Lukashenko to head the National Olympic Committee of Belarus was not recognized by the IOC. At the same time, the IOC suspended all transfers of funds to the NOCs, “except for payments related to the training of athletes” for the Tokyo and Beijing Olympic Games (2022 Winter Olympics), deciding to pay Olympic scholarships directly to athletes.
The arrest of a journalist
On May 23, 2021, a RyanAir flight from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, was forced to land at Minsk Airport, escorted by a Belarusian military MIG-29. The action was ordered directly by President Lukashenko, “after a bomb alert that turned out to be false.” On board the plane was, among other passengers, the Belarusian journalist and activist Roman Protasevich who, as soon as the aircraft landed, was taken over by the Belarusian authorities and arrested.
Journalist and dissident Roman Protasevici, together with his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, had been accused of coordinating, through social networks, the protest movement that broke out in Belarus in 2020, following the contested re-election in the fifth term of Aleksandr Lukashenko, re-election denounced as fraudulent.
Drink a lot of vodka
In July 2020, after publicly declaring that he had COVID-19, Lukashenko told people that to avoid the disease the best solution is to drink vodka. And, more than that, even wash hands with it and take a sauna. “I recommend you to take a sauna, drink a lot of vodka and work hard, this way you will kill the virus in the body.” Also, at that time, he declared that he did not suffer at all from contracting the virus and that he recovered easily. Repeatedly dismissing the threat posed by COVID-19, Lukasenko during that time promoted all kinds of home remedies and refused to close the country’s borders.
Lukashenko has maintained very close political ties with Russia since the beginning, consistently benefiting from Russia’s political and financial support. The President of Belarus has been married to Galina since 1975 and has two children, Vikor (43) and Dmitri (39). The international press wrote about the Belarusian president having an extramarital affair with a woman 43 years younger than him. It is about Maria Vasilevich, Miss Belarus in 2018.