Interview with U.S. TV channel CNN

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Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko gave an interview to the U.S. TV channel CNN on 30 September.

Back on 9 August, at the big press conference in Minsk, Aleksandr Lukashenko had said that he was willing to give an interview to CNN. The press conference was attended by a CNN journalist who invited the Belarusian leader to give an interview.

“I am not ruling it out. Yet I have one condition: no editing,” the head of state said. “These are my terms. You can negotiate all the rest with my press secretary,” he added.

The interviewer was Matthew Chance, CNN’s, senior international correspondent based in Moscow. The questions he asked were commonplace for the Western media. They were based on poorly done fake news and outright lies, most of which the head of state had refuted before. Yet, some fakes were new and quite unbelievable. For example, that migrants in Belarus are given narcotic drugs.

Nevertheless, the Belarusian leader answered all the questions as frankly as possible. He spoke in detail about refugees naming the true reasons for the migration crisis and those to blame for it. He spoke about the failed ‘revolutionaries’ who fled from Belarus. He commented on the lies and media outcry over the Ryanair jet landing in Belarus. He also talked about the country’s COVID-19 response strategy and Belarus-Russia relations.

At the very beginning of the interview, the journalist mentioned some overused fakes about human rights violations and the use of force by law enforcement officers during last year’s events. It became clear at that moment that Matthew Chance’s objectives were not to ask questions and get answers to them. In violation of the rules of journalism, he suggested that Aleksandr Lukashenko should use this interview as an opportunity to apologize to Belarusian people.

“No, I would not like to take this opportunity. If I would, I would do that through the Belarusian media. They do their job well. What is the point of doing it on CNN? I do not think this is even a relevant question, and in principle I have nothing to apologize for, and the latest events in Belarus are a testimony to that,” the President responded.

However, the journalist kept insisting. He spoke about the conditions of detention citing information from the internet and some human rights organizations instead of reliable and credible sources.

The head of state answered that there is not a single detention center in Belarus that could compare to Guantanamo, or those bases that the United States and Great Britain set up in Eastern Europe: “So one learns by comparison, hence my answer to your question - I do not think you will come out looking any better.”

“As to our detention centers, where we keep those accused or those under investigation, they are no worse than in Britain or the United States. I can guarantee you that,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Speaking about human rights organizations, the Belarusian leader noted that one should not always trust them. For example, human rights organizations in Syria accused Syrians, Russians and others of using biological weapons. “You even showed this, then it turned out to be video manipulation. Yet, human rights organizations were involved. So maybe in Belarus, too, you are being prompted by these human rights organizations,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Although the CNN journalist listened to the answers, he continued to persistently repeat the same set of fake news that are spread by the opponents of the government. One of them is about those killed in the 2020 riots. “I know that special equipment was used on 8 or 9 August when those people controlled from abroad attacked our police on the barricades,” the head of state said. As a result, one of active participants of the riots was injured and the President was informed about that incident. “But it was not the case of the police going somewhere to find and kill this person. That was not what happened. He came to kill them. He was an ex-con, by the way, pardoned by me,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

As for other deaths mentioned by Matthew Chance, those were nothing but deliberate attempts to put the blame for everything on the authorities, the Belarusian leader is convinced. “You can hang anything on this period - some died of COVID, some died of asthma, some had cancer. And our protesters put all of them on the same list. Then you read the list and were happy because it was what you needed,” the President said. Aleksandr Lukashenko recommended that the journalist get to the bottom of it, and offered his help if needed.

“I suggest you discuss concrete facts, and not the views or statements of some dubious human rights organizations. Everything that you have just said is fake and fantasy. I guarantee you it is fake and fantasy,” the head of state said.

“It is not appropriate for a channel like CNN to quote all kinds of lies from the internet. Someone must have wanted you to do this, that is why I would not advise you repeating it all,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Speaking about human rights, the head of state is convinced that there are simply no one-size-fits-all standards in this field. “Please give me these standards. These standards were made up by you in the West and you want the whole world stick to them. You won't succeed,” the President said.

To illustrate his point Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned attempts to come up with single standards for holding elections: “There are no standards. We, together with Russia, suggested developing election evaluation standards as part of OSCE, you didn't agree because you have your own standards. The same is with human rights.”

Recalling the well-known proverb “one learns by comparison”, the President highlighted the facts of blatant violations of human rights in the USA. The death of Ashli Babbitt is a case in point. The Air Force veteran was fatally shot as she and other Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

“We have never shot point-blank at a single opposition campaigner or even a radical. Never ever. But you showed on CNN and other channels recently a young lady shot in the U.S. Congress, a hero of the United States. Is that not human rights abuse? But you keep quiet about it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

The persistent reluctance of Americans to mention human rights abuses in the United States became obvious even in the course of the interview. Every time Aleksandr Lukashenko started talking about it, Matthew Chance immediately interrupted, trying to divert the conversation away from this topic. But the President of Belarus is not the kind of person who can be manipulated.

“I wasn't the one to start talking about Americans. You asked me about my attitude to the fact that a certain person met Biden in America, that is, the U.S. President. You started talking about it. That's why I mentioned America. You killed 12 people in Afghanistan [a U.S. strike on a target near the Kabul airport  mistakenly killed civilians]. Did you see those people clinging on to the chassis and dying in Kabul? You spent 20 years killing people there. So please calm down about deaths and dying and so on,” the President said.

The journalist said that his attempts to interview people in the streets of Minsk were unsuccessful as no one was willing to answer.

“Did you say who you are?” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“Of course,” the journalist answered.

“So you said you were from CNN, and people - maybe an overwhelming majority - did not want to talk to you in Minsk? Right?” the head of state asked once again and, getting a positive answer, continued: “People in Minsk are very intelligent, wise, talented and educated. They know what CNN stands for.

Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled that there was a CNN journalist recently at the Big Conversation with the President and people could see it live on TV. “So in Minsk, people know very well that your channel is biased, and they simply didn't want to talk to you about it, because they knew that you were going to distort anything they said anyway. So I'm sorry, but that is a fact,” the President said.

“The fact that the people of Minsk didn't want to talk to you - look, that's your problem. You are a journalist, a talented person, you should have got them to open up. You didn't succeed. What's that to do with me? That's not my fault. If you asked for my help, I would have helped you. But you didn't ask me for it,” the Belarusian leader added.

However, the journalist drew another conclusion from the refusal of people in Minsk to talk to him, which is difficult to apprehend but which fits ideally into conspiracy theories. He considered it to be a manifestation of the fear in which the residents of Belarus are.

“An atmosphere of fear. That is a lie, Mathew. You're lying. I'm sorry. You've walked around Minsk, without security guards. Nobody accompanied you. And I don't see any fear in your eyes today. So what have our people got to fear?” the head of state said.

“The main thing about our country's image, our special thing so to speak, is that our people don't need to fear walking around, be it day or night, going out with young children, even babies in prams, and that is our own achievement. I am ready to stand up for it at any level with anybody. I don't believe that you had anything to fear in Minsk, I just don't believe it. This is a lie CNN concocted in advance, or maybe somebody had you do it,” the President stressed.

“Well it looks like you've come here to accuse me of something, but I won't hold it against you. You must have been given this assignment,” the Belarusian leader said.

In his question, the journalist mentioned the meeting of the U.S. President with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. In response, the President refused to discuss “the female persona”. “I don't fight with women. And I don't want to characterize her in any way,” he said. He noted that Tikhanovskaya asked the head of state to take her to the border with Lithuania, although the self-exiled opposition are trying to present everything differently, as if she fled from persecution.

“Tikhanovskaya was not fleeing anywhere. She asked me to take her to the Lithuanian border, not only her but a few other people too, which was what I did. So she didn't flee. Do you want proof? We can provide proof to you,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said and noted that the journalist brought up fake news again. “You are either misinformed or you are trying to misinform your viewers and listeners.”

“As regards opposition leadership. I hope I will always have the same view as I do now. The leader of the opposition is someone who lives in this country and has a different point of view. As they express it, they campaign to bring this alternative view to fruition. There are no such people as you describe them in Belarus. They are somewhere over there on your side, paid by you,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

“Look, if one is a revolutionary and they got themselves involved in a revolution, moreover, tried to win a blitzkrieg here with foreign money - there were such people here. Well, they need to be prepared for anything. Isn't that the way history works? But if you wanted to make money on this or hype it up as they say these days, well that's a different issue,” the Belarusian leader noted.

“He who has got himself involved in a revolution should go all the way. He knows what a revolution is and what the consequences are. But if they flee, they are fraudsters who wanted to make money on this, which was what they did. And the latest events are proof of this,” the head of state said.

Once again during the conversation, Matthew Chance ignored journalistic ethics standards and formulated a question in an obvious accusatory manner. “Do you continue to insist that was a genuine bomb threat? Or do you now admit that the whole incident was manufactured by you and your security forces in order to capture the critic that you wanted in jail?” the CNN representative asked.

“I am not going to admit to anything in front of you. I am not under investigation. So please choose your words carefully,” he said.

As regards the flight, the ICAO is investigating all the circumstances of what has happened. “Recently, ICAO, an international organization, finally sent their inspectors here, we have been waiting for two or three months for this. They are yet to publish the results. So what are your grounds for your accusations? Do you have some other facts? We have put our facts on the table, and we have shown what happened,” the Belarusian leader noted.

“I said recently, but if this had been a premeditated action planned by our security services, if this were true, you would be flattering me, because for security services to carry out such an operation without breaking a single international law or even instruction, well that would have cost a lot. I can't say that our secret services, or even your secret services would be prepared to conduct such an operation. So, this is your fantasy,” the Belarusian leader noted.

He suggested the journalist address ICAO for the objective information. “If you want the truth, just ask ICAO. They conducted an investigation. We know their view, and you don't.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko also offered Matthew Chance his assistance in organizing a meeting with Roman Protasevich. “We can give you an opportunity to meet him and you can talk to him. Don't ask me questions about it. He will tell you. He has already said a lot, have you heard? He has said quite a lot.”

The President stressed that Belarus has always ensured the safety of flights over its territory - both before the Ryanair case, and after that. “If you are afraid to fly over our territory, I can personally guarantee your safety and that of your company, your country or any other country when flying over Belarus, just as ever before. But if I, or the law-enforcement authorities, see any threat to the Belarusian state, we will force any plane to land, be it from the United Kingdom or the United States. It will be forced to land in Belarus immediately if we feel threatened, and you will do the same. This is normal, and I am no exception here,” the Belarusian leader noted.

“But if you choose not to fly, that's fine, okay, fly over the North Pole or the South Pole, that is your right, I cannot force you,” Aleksandr Lukashenko commented on the decision of some air companies not to fly over Belarus.

The President also drew attention to the fact that the decisions of the airlines were clearly not independent, but were taken on someone's instructions. “The fact that they have stopped flying over us - well, that's because you've ordered them so. This opposition activist had barely been detained when everybody in Europe and America got their orders from Washington and started making carbon-copy statements. They were identical, just look at them. This means that someone - maybe CNN? - wrote these statements, and they began to deliver them and stopped flying here. Fine, God be your judge. We'll survive,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

During the interview the President commented on the topical migration problem and refuted fake news about the involvement of Belarus in the situation on the border with the European Union. Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Do you have facts proving that I force these people [migrants] to the border with Poland? You don’t and you can’t have them.”

In response the interviewer Matthew Chance said: “The Polish government says that refugees are transported there by force and goes as far as to say they are fed drugs, amphetamine. In order to let them go without sleep for a long time and handle cold weather better. And thus they land in a trap in this situation. Are you going to deny that?”

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “It is madness. Everything your Polish government [which politics is strongly influenced by the West, in particular, USA] does is madness. Are you saying we feed drugs to these people? Give me facts! If there are such facts, I will bear responsibility.”

“It is simpler to sit in Warsaw and blabber about various things while dodging responsibility to the Polish people for one’s own escapades. But it is necessary to investigate the situation. Why don’t you want to find out what is going on at the border? We are ready for it,” the President stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out Belarus had not declared a state of emergency the way Poland had. Belarus invites reporters to go to the border and objectively investigate the situation. “You are welcome to do it. We’ve invited them, they’ve met with these fugitive people,” he said.

Moreover, the Belarusian side invited the refugees, who are stuck at the border, to stay in Belarus, particularly considering oncoming cold weather. “We’ve asked them to go back to Belarus before frosty weather comes. They said Lithuanians and Poles had promised political asylum or some other kind of shelter to them and they are waiting for it, Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “So, they’ve been waiting for a resolution of this issue for three months. What do Belarusians have to do with it?”

Aleksandr Lukashenko also pointed out that migrants do not enter the European Union only via Belarus. Migrants also travel via the Mediterranean Sea – Spain, Italy, and Greece. “So many people die over there! In their hundreds. On the way across the Mediterranean Sea. Thousands of people reach the European Union. They went through Belarus exactly the same way. They don’t want to settle down in Belarus, they want to go to you. Because you’ve called to them. Why did you invite them to go there?”

“You’ve recently publicly called Afghans and asked Central Asia countries (of the former USSR) and Russia to let them stay for a while. You and Americans asked. And ordered Europeans to welcome everyone. It was said on your channel. Why don’t you welcome the people, who are fleeing the war from the countries you’ve devastated?” the head of state wondered.

“This is why you mustn’t blame Belarus. If they wanted to go to Belarus and stay here and we kicked them out to Poland or Lithuania, you could complain. But today there are no people, who want to stay in Belarus while I kick them out. And you toss dead people across the border to us,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

In the interview Aleksandr Lukashenko once again dismissed accusations of using migrants to retaliate against the European Union for its sanctions and for hosting opposition campaigners.

“Can you prove the fact that I decided to take revenge on the European Union? Do you take me for a madman?” Aleksandr Lukashenko asked.

He drew attention to the fact that Belarus is a relatively small country in terms of area and population. “Can a country of 10 million dictate terms to the European Union with half a billion? I don't think you take me for a madman, otherwise you wouldn't have come here. So I'm not going to retaliate against anyone,” the President said.

“Only weak people want revenge, and pardon my immodesty, I don't consider myself a weakling. And I don't deem it necessary to take revenge on the European Union. I'm not going to. It is your country that is taking revenge by leaving the European Union [Matthew Chance is a native of Great Britain]. Because you needed revenge, but I don't,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

He invited the CNN journalist to visit the border area himself in order to see the real state of affairs there. “I would like to take you up on that opportunity to go visit that border region,” the journalist responded.

“You don't need to take me at my word. I said that if you want to, we will take you to the border, even today or tomorrow. You are based in Moscow, you can come any time. There are 30 or more people sitting there, and we are providing them with clothes, food and shelter. And on the other side there's just barbed wire and Polish soldiers with guns. And we will show you certain things, like when they were setting dogs on people, beating them up, using electroshock guns just to squeeze people out, kick them out of Poland,” the President said.

“Poland and Lithuania were not their final destination, they wanted to reach Germany, where they'd been invited,” the Belarusian leader added.

The President said that Belarus has enough partners and friends in the world to manage without the European Union. “Listen, we have survived without the EU and we will go on without them for many years to come. The world is huge without you. It is a small world, but it is huge. Russia alone can consume everything we need to sell (selling our products is the most important thing for us). There is also China with 1.5 billion population, they are our friends, and we'll sell our products there,” the Belarusian leader said.

“We will sell to Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India, we have normal relations with them. We can manage without you and the United States, and will continue to do so,” the head of state said.

CNN journalist Matthew Chance asked what Belarus promised to Russia in return for diplomatic and financial support.

“Pardon me Matthew, you have an Anglo-Saxon mentality. President Putin and I, or any of our officials, never talk like that. We are fraternal nations. We come from the same origin, Russians and Belarusians,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

“You probably know better than I because you're looking at us all from the sidelines. We are no different, inside and out. We have a common policy and common goals. And we move along the same road towards these goals. We don't need promises. We are nations that are very close to each other and we can build the future without promises, and even you can't stop us,” the Belarusian leader added.

The president was asked a question about the Russian military bases in Belarus and whether the country will turn into a western outpost of Russia.

“If you are so afraid that Belarus could turn into a Western outpost for Russia, why pursue this stupid, brainless policy? Why are you turning us into Russia's outpost? That's first,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

He noted that in fact Belarus has long been an outpost of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. “At this Western front, we have effectively one army, one armed force manned by the Belarusian army. In the event of a conflict, and we make no secret of it, the entire western segment of the Russian armed forces will support us. I'm not threatening you. I'm just reminding you of something we keep talking about.”

“So to say that there will be this outpost sometime in the future is pointless. If necessary, this outpost can be set up within a month, if there is a threat,” the head of state noted.

“As for bases, you surprise me. Don't you or doesn't NATO know what foreign bases there are here? We don't have a single foreign base including Russians, except for two, you could almost say civilian bases,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “These are the legacy of the Soviet era. They were built under the Soviet Union, one for early warning of nuclear missiles coming over from your side, and the other base is a communications base for the Russian armed forces to communicate with their Atlantic fleet. That's all the bases. There are about 30-40 people serving there in total, and they're all our people. There are only two-three Russian officers, the rest are our servicemen.”

“But the main thing for your viewers' benefit, Matthew, and I'm not afraid to say this, if we need to, Belarus will turn into one military base for Russia and Belarus in order to withstand your aggression, if you decide, or if any one country decides to attack. And you should be clear on this,” the head of state noted.

“There are no prices. The sovereignty and independence of any country are not for sale, especially not with me.

“It is absolutely stupid to say that Belarus would become part of the United States, Britain, or Russia. I answered this question recently. Putin and I, and the entire leadership of Russia and Belarus, are intelligent enough to create a union of two independent states that would be even stronger than either of these separate entities. This issue [about the loss of independence and becoming part of Russia] isn't on the agenda at all. This is a product of collective Western imagination, as we say here, and I say this to you sincerely,” the president said.

The head of state confirmed that there has always been and still is the global psychosis regarding the situation with the pandemic. “It is still happening in the world. We have dropped the ball on protecting people while seeking treatments and resolving other issues. Especially you over there, in the West, in America, in the United Kingdom. There has been no Belarusian variant, by the way, but there is a British variant stalking Europe to this day. You have basically created a new virus. So don't blame us,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

In his words, if we take the proportion, we will see that the number of deaths from COVID-19 in Belarus is much smaller than in certain western countries. “Thousands of people die in the United States. Hundreds die every day in the UK, and you say we don't use the right treatment? You failed to treat people in the West,” he stressed.

“You don't like our Belarusian way of treating people. But it is based on our realities and our abilities, and our way turned out to be correct. We never locked down. Why aren't you locking down now [when the COVID-19 morbidity is still high]? So you confirm that our method is correct,” the Belarusian leader said.

In an interview Aleksandr Lukashenko said that in Belarus we use vaccines from many countries, we have developed our own. Medications and PPE have been provided for all. “Is that not a serious attitude? But you want to say that this Belarusian ‘dictator’ is a madman. He doesn't offer treatment to people. But I am more involved in this than all of you Western leaders taken together,” the head of state said.

The president remarked that he had already had the disease, he knows what it is like, can make certain conclusions and give advice to people.

The head of state also explained his previous advice to take 100 grams of vodka and go to the sauna to reduce the probability of catching the disease. “That was a joke, but you grabbed on to that and said that Lukashenko wanted to treat people with vodka and sauna. That was a joke. We use the unified treatment protocols of the World Health Organization. It is the same protocol in America, the UK, Russia and here, and we use it in treatment, but we are more successful because you have ruined your healthcare, and we have been building ours constantly,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“So don't you go accusing me. This is all fake news - everything that you have just said is fake, fake, fake news you have got from the internet, and a channel like CNN should be ashamed to be doing that,” the president stressed.

“I have never given reckless advice to anybody, but you in the UK sometimes were so crazy you did not know what to do. We saw it, I saw it, because I was deeply involved in this. I cannot be reckless in my advice because I had this illness myself. But you have decided that we took the wrong path. This is your view. I have a different view. And it is confirmed by concrete facts. And there is no getting away from it,” the Belarusian leader concluded.

Aleksandr Lukashenko gave a detailed account of the detention of the Wagner group in the summer of 2020. According to the head of state, he learned about the arrival of these people in Belarus solely from Belarusian special services.

The journalist asked how Belarus learned that these people entered Belarus: “Were you informed by someone, was it the Russians? Was it the Ukrainians?”

“If you want to know the truth, I can give you a detailed account. It is surprising that CNN admitted recently that this was a CIA operation through Ukraine. That raised eyebrow,” Aleksandr Lukashenko started answering this question.

“The CIA denies it,” the interviewer interrupted.

“The CIA denies it? Well, that is their right. They deny everything. I don't insist, either,” the head of state noted.

According to him, as soon as this group of around 30 people crossed the Belarus- Russia border on the Berlin-Moscow highway, the Belarusian security service learned from their sources ‘that 30 armed people were heading our way from the Russian Federation’. “So immediately they got on the radar of the Belarusian security forces. I monitored this every hour, because this is a serious matter. So we monitored them, they tried to check into one hotel, then they checked into another,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

According to the president, when he learned that these people were in a hotel, he asked the head of the security service: “Can we monitor them in Belarus, find out what they are up to, and why they came here? Can we keep all 30 of them under control?”

“I got a candid answer: we will try, but we can't guarantee that we won't miss some of them. These people were armed, and I didn't know why they came here. So I gave a personal order to detain them all, at night when they checked into the hotel not far from here. We arrested them and put them in an appropriate place. They did not resist, it was impossible to resist. It was a brilliant operation on the part of our security service. One of the guys who took part in the operation died the other day [the KGB officer who was killed in Minsk on 28 September],” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“It provoked a huge scandal in Russia and Ukraine. Both Russia and Ukraine asked us to extradite them. And I said let the prosecutors general of Russia and Ukraine come to Belarus, negotiate it and take a decision together with our prosecutor general who was to decide on their extradition. Nobody showed up,” Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled the timeline.

According to the head of state, he called his eldest son, who was the president's aide on national security back then and sent him to the detention center where these people were kept. “He went there. I told him to ask them where they wanted to go because neither Ukraine nor Russia seemed to want them. I realized that these men were sent here by someone. He put this question to them and came back saying: they want to go to Russia. I asked, all of them? There were six or so Ukrainian citizens among them. I asked, do they all want to go to Russia? - Yes. - Did you ask the Ukrainians? - They said, only Russia. I said, put them on a bus and take them where they want. He took them there. He gave them food and drink on the way, and they apologized. They asked, and this is noteworthy, whether it was possible for them to come to Belarus as tourists one day? And my son phoned me to ask this. I said, anyone with good intentions can come here,” the president said.

“This is very interesting,” Matthew Chance responded.

Aleksandr Lukashenko asked whether CNN had different information or a different view on this. “Are the things I have just said new to you?” the president asked.

The journalist confirmed that Aleksandr Lukashenko’s account of events coincides with what CNN learned. However, he added that there is an allegation in Ukraine that the Belarusian president was tipped off by someone in the Ukrainian government.

“An absolute lie, Matthew. Neither the Ukrainian government, nor the president of Ukraine tipped me off. I was informed by my own security service, the State Security Committee that monitored this Wagner group from the border to the hotel and back. Nobody from Ukraine or Russia phoned me on this matter,” the head of state said.

In the course of the interview, the journalist mentioned the work on constitutional amendments underway in Belarus. “I know that you are overseeing this matter. You are the first president of Belarus. Do you think there will be a second president of Belarus?” the journalist asked.

“I swear, I am not going to be president until I die. I swear. Everything will depend on the situation in Belarus. If you and your patrons in the West do not interfere in our affairs, and we feel calm and confident as a sovereign and independent nation and a people who deserves to be independent and sovereign, believe me, everything will happen sooner than you think. But if you dare to intervene in our affairs again, like last year, nothing good will come out of it, it will be as bad as you think right now,” the head of state said.

The interviewer stated that Aleksandr Lukashenko had been in office for 27 years already. He asked when Aleksandr Lukashenko would step down. “Look, I have been president, as you say, for 27 years serving my people. But I haven't reached the age of members of your Washington party committee yet. I think your president will soon turn 90. So let's take the age of your Washington patron as a benchmark. Why not?” Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested ironically.

“Don't worry though, I don’t think I will live that long. A person can be president as long as he wishes and as long as the people want him to be president, but only if he is healthy and capable of running the country. The situation here is rather complicated. So the country needs an energetic, healthy person, elected by the people, and this person needs to want to run the country. There needs to be peace and calm, so as not to ruin what I have built as the first president of Belarus. But if you keep attacking us all the time, throw bombs, deny us our own say, our face and our independence, I will be president forever. I will defend what I have created together with the Belarusian people at the price of my own life,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

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