Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko met with Belarus-born cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky on 16 August. They had a warm conversation and exchanged presents.
Lukashenko: Thank you for everything. We have been keeping an eye on you, have seen everything. So thank you very much!
Novitsky: Thank you for the letter of greetings. It was really nice and touching. I understand that I could not disappoint people who were preparing me for the flight as well as my republic, my land. Thank you very much indeed. I have also prepared a small present for you. This is a picture of our crew.
Lukashenko: Of three? The international crew…
Novitsky: Exactly. A Frenchman and an American. The American is still up there, by the way. I have returned with the French cosmonaut. This is the watch that they give us before the flight. It is certified for spacewalk. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to but it is attached to a space suit all the time.
Lukashenko: Oleg, I would like to give you the first book about the Palace of Independence. This is a unique historical book. I want you to have this book. This is a good book, I think. Therefore, I would like to present the very first book which I authorized for printing. I have also made a small inscription. You will read later. This is a grand book. I want to give the first copy of the book to a man of virtue with a Belarusian heart. It will be a symbolic and beautiful gesture.
Novitsky: Thank you very much!
Lukashenko: We have been keeping an eye on you, have been emotionally involved. As far as I understand, your first mission lasted for about 150 days. The next one lasted for almost 200 days. It is hard to imagine for me.
Novitsky: For me too...
Lukashenko: I do not like closed spaces, and to see you there…
Novitsky: There is no other way to do it. If you pledge, don’t hedge.
Lukashenko: Right you are. You cannot leave the station for a walk, cannot relax there.
Novitsky: No, you cannot slam the door after a slight misunderstanding.
Lukashenko: Exactly. We have seen those issues, all those problems. I’ve always wondered how you managed to find common language with the foreigners.
Novitsky: It was no big deal. They pretend speaking Russian. We pretend speaking English. It’s okay. The main thing is to understand each other. It doesn’t matter how we communicate there. It is important to know what buttons to press and what not to press. They are good guys. Very good!
Lukashenko: Are you on vacation now?
Novitsky: Yes, till the end of August for now. I don’t know how well it will go. Lots of things to do. I must get used to living here.
Lukashenko: On Earth…
Novitsky: Yes. I need to make some preparations. I will have medical tests in December or in January. Then they will tell me if I am in good shape or not. I think that everything will be okay. Therefore, I am now trying to do something else because I have time. Maybe, some construction works. Thank you very much indeed. I should prepare myself for living on Earth, in Belarus.