Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko responded to some critical remarks in mass media and the Internet as he appointed new government members on 18 August.
“I promised to respond to some comments in mass media and the Internet. Some negative comments. I have already said that 90% of people support these decisions in an absolutely adequate way. But I want to comment on a few negative statements there, especially in the Internet. I know who is writing it. Of course, these are people who probably did not vote for this president. Nevertheless, they are part of our society. These are Belarusian citizens. And some foreigners, especially Russians and Ukrainians. Therefore, I asked the press service to track this information. I want to respond briefly,” the president said.
“Some people are saying that the president has lashed out against the government, that there have been personnel purges. The president is not interested in it because the government is formed by the president. Yes, he consults with others, discusses these candidates with public organizations… But the decree on the appointment of government members is signed by the president. Do you want to say that I have appointed these government members to lash out? I will lash out against myself then. So it makes no sense for the president to have such a government and to lash out against its members,” the Belarusian leader said.
“But if the government appointed by the president does not pursue the strategy taken in the best interests of people and supported by this government publicly, if the government does not fulfill the president’s resolutions… How should I respond? Should I remain a passive observer?” the head of state wondered.
“There have been recent examples when everybody was watching from aside doing nothing. And you are aware of people’s reactions,” Alexander Lukashenko added.
Alexander Lukashenko remarked that some people hint at the elections and say that the decisions made are populist. “When I read about it I asked myself when we will have the presidential elections… In 2020. A half of the presidential term is still ahead. What election-inspired populism are they talking about? Some people want the elections to be held tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. I have already responded to it. We will hold the elections in strict accordance with the Constitution of our country. It is not necessary at all to hold the presidential elections and promote any populist ideas for it. Complete rubbish!” the president stressed.
“Some are trying to look deeper. They say this is the verdict for the system, i.e. the system of government, the country’s policy are wrong, the system is bad,” the president spoke about some comments of people.
“Some want it to be the verdict for the system. Certain people are saying that the system has faltered. On the contrary, these decisions are specifically intended to prevent the system from faltering,” the Belarusian leader said.
In his words, Belarus does not have a different system, and no one proposed a different system and government, a different pattern for Belarus’ development instead of the existing one. Just empty talk,” the head of state emphasized.
“I have already spoken about it. If I make certain decisions, give instructions, I do not improvise. These decisions were discussed in detail with the government, with you,” the president said.
“No one has proposed an alternative,” the Belarusian leader stated.
Alexander Lukashenko also remarked that some people deem it necessary to appoint businessmen as government officials. “It does not matter where they come from. They must be qualified and experienced people. If you become a government member, you should at least know the system of this government,” the president believes.
There are also proposals to conduct an open contest for government positions. “We have seen them in Eastern European countries, there were such contests in Russia, Ukraine. We have seen enough of them. What was the result?” the head of state said.
He emphasized that experienced and proactive people are needed.
“Some people are saying that Lukashenko will now appoint people from his “inner circle”. Listen, I did not know Sergei Nikolayevich [Rumas] before my presidency. I knew his father. He was a good man. And I kept an eye on him [Sergei Rumas], expressed my opinion about his father several times. I got acquainted with Turchin when I instructed him to develop the IT sector. I can say the same about the others… Kukharev should not think that he was moved to the State Control Committee for no particular reason and then came back. I test people by giving them different jobs. It is a good experience for him to work in the State Control Committee, to see the development of our economy and all drawbacks from the prism of this organization. It is very important that Petrishenko together with Sergei Nikolayevich were involved in the formation of the EAEU and know Russia which is our economic and political partner. They will deal with these issues,” the president voiced his criteria for selecting candidates.
The same pertains to Roman Golovchenko who previously worked in the military industry complex, after that as a diplomat.
“There are no accidental people here! We don’t need any contests, do we? Do we have around 300 people like Petrishenko or Golovchenko to hold a contest for them? This is a new generation of leaders. I hope to god we will not make a mistake, I hope you will be faithful and reliable people. I do not want the same situation as in the healthcare industry with so many corrupt people. They were lining their pockets by raising prices for drugs and equipment for hospitals. It means they were stealing from people. This is the ugliest form of corruption!” the head of state said.
“I have never had any confidants. Yes, I respect committed and hardworking people. I appreciate people who can perform even more functions than they initially had to because they love their country and people. If you love our Belarus and our people at least like I do, we will be a success,” the president concluded.
“Some are saying that Lukashenko wants to prove something to Putin. Listen, we know each for more than 20 years. What shall I prove to him? He knows me, as people say, inside out. And I do know him. What else should we do? I do not go to report to the Kremlin. We have agreed on our relations. We have the most advanced relations in the Union State of Belarus and Russia. We have concluded many, more than a hundred legal acts, have created a certain basis. We can make and implement decisions by word of mouth. We have very good and close relations,” the president said.
“What do we want from Russia? If Russia signed an agreement with Belarus, we want this agreement to be properly fulfilled. And I openly say that we will never become a feudatory of any country. Do not demand it from us. Some commentators even urge Lukashenko to make Belarus part of Russia as soon as possible,” the president said.
“These will be the last days of a politician in Belarus if such a decision is made. What for do we need it in the modern world? We can co-exist in alliance with Russia and solve our common tasks without any problems. Russia is our closest neighbor. In fact, we are one nation. Belarusians, Russians, and Ukrainians have common roots,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
“We do not want the repetition of the events which are happening between Ukraine and Russia. We do not need this conflict. And Russia does not need it. Because it has only one 1,000-kilometer-wide window from east to west. This is Belarus. Russia needs stable Belarus,” the president remarked.
The head of state noted that Russia is afraid of losing Belarus. Some people are saying that the republic has turned to the West. “No, we haven’t turned anywhere and are not going to. Our god-given fate is to be here, in the center of Europe, to be this strong and reliable bridge between the East and the West,” he stressed.
The president remarked that Belarus also has excellent relations with, for example, China. “The West is our neighbor. We do not choose neighbors. And we must build good relations with them. They have technologies, investments, and they bring them to Belarus. The same is true about the People’s Republic of China. We are now building relations with strong India, they invest in Belarus,” the Belarusian leader continued.
“So, certain Russians reproaching us for talking to the West should look at themselves. No other country is taking more effort to improve its relations with the West, with the United States than Russia. Why do you reproach us then?” the head of state wondered.
“Therefore, Belarus and Russia will maintain the most advanced relations,” Alexander Lukashenko stressed.
“We will never ruin any integration associations. Forgive my immodesty, I have been an initiator of many integration associations since Yeltsin, and I will not give up on them. But we have to respond to ungrounded criticism,” the president added.
“Some citizens of our country are too radical. They suggest jailing all failing officials instead of firing them. The guilty will be punished. But Belarus should be a law-abiding country. Many perpetrators have already been imprisoned. And this law is the same for all: for civil servants, workers, peasants, specialists, teachers and doctors… Everything will be in line with the law,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
Alexander Lukashenko reminded that corruption is inadmissible. “And I want to warn you against it. Because tomorrow there will be a flock of businessmen and other people around you looking for easy life. You can meet, talk and even go to the sauna with all of them if you want. You can throw back a shot with them. But remember that you are civil servants. People will know about your background and behavior. I am not used to inspecting the civil servants’ whereabouts. You can go wherever you want. This is your right. You must see what is going on in the society; you are living in this society. But remember that I will severely punish you for any violations, especially for bribery, corruption and everything like that,” the head of state warned.
“But believe me, it is more painful for me than for anybody else. Because you are like children for me. Do you think it was a pleasure for me to fire those people [former government members]? Semashko had worked for a very long time. The same is about Kobyakov and Vasily Zharko. But if they fail… If there is corruption in the field Vasily Zharko was in charge of… I had warned him three times... And there was a complete failure there. How can I work with this person?” the Belarusian leader asked.
“Some are concerned that before my visits to regions, people try to straighten things up. They repair roads and do other things… Well, if somebody comes, for instance, to Kochanova or Sergei Rumas’ home, they also tidy things up beforehand. The same happens before the president’s visits. The president may visit you once in two, three, even five years, so do your best to clean up the territory. It was utterly disrespectful not to have it done before the president’s visit,” the head of state said.
“Everything that you will do will stay with you. I will not take it with me,” Alexander Lukashenko stressed.
In his words, only one thing is inadmissible: to straighten things up only from the side where the president arrives. “You know that I always try to see the other side of the beautiful facade. That is why I see everything,” the Belarusian leader said.
“But people should realize that wellbeing, cleanness and order in their cities, towns, villages equally depend on civil servants and themselves,” the head of state added. “I will always be grateful for the good things that are done before the president’s visits. But everything should be done in a proper way, for the sake of people and without window dressing. There are no and will never be Potemkin villages in Belarus.”