Alexander Lukashenko is the incumbent President of Belarus, having assumed the office on 20 July 1994. He is often referred to as the last European dictator. Lukashenko also holds the office of Chairman of the Supreme State Council of the Union State. From 1990 to 1994, he was deputy to the Supreme Council of the Republic of Belarus.
Early Life and Education
On 30 August 1954, Alexander Lukashenko was born to an unmarried mother in Kopys, Byelorussian SSR, Soviet Union. He went to a local school and, being fatherless, had a difficult time bonding with other school children.
Completing high school education, Lukashenko joined the Mogilev Pedagogical Institute and graduated in 1975. Likewise, he went to the Belarusian Agricultural Academy as well.
Alexander Lukashenko married Galina Zhelnerovich in 1975. The couple had two children together. The first son, Viktor Lukashenko, was publicly abashed by his father as ‘a useless weakling who will soon become even weaker.’ The second son, Dzmitry, was born in 1980. Besides, Lukashenko also has an illegitimate son named Nikolai who is supposedly his successor.
Alexander Lukashenko’s hobbies include skiing and playing ice hockey. In the past, he also played football and bayan.
Prior to entering the mainstream political career, Alexander Lukashenko ventured into different positions. From 1975 to 1977, he was a border guard, and from 1980 to 1982, he served in the Soviet Army. In the period between these two military activities, Lukashenko was engaged in politics as a leader of the Al-Union Leninist Young Communist League. Having acquired the rank of a military officer, he retired and joined Gorodets state farm.
Lukashenko’s major political career starts in the 1990s. Starting the decade with an appointment to Deputy of the Supreme Council of the Republic Belarus, he quickly progressed to become President in 1994. In the meantime, he also held the position of Chairman of the anti-corruption committee and started investigating against several prominent Belarusian leaders. As the investigations couldn’t come to an evidence-supported conclusion, Lukashenko had to resign from the office.
The first democratic Belarusian presidential elections were held on 23 June and 10 July 1994. Lukashenko had landslide victories in both the elections – he received 45.1% votes in first election and 80.1% votes in the second election. Subsequently, he assumed office on 20 July 1994 for the first presidential term.
Following a win in the 1994 presidential elections, Lukashenko announced a referendum which asked questions on national symbol, Russian language, and Belarus-Russia ties. Unfortunately, the opposition’s strongly condemned such questions and petitioned for an impeachment. However, the petition couldn’t succeed and the referendum was held on 24 November 1996. The favorable outcomes from the referendum dramatically increased Lukashenko’s political and economic power – in fact, he became no less than a dictator.
Although many international pressure groups opposed the referendum outcomes, Lukashenko didn’t bother to comment. Instead, he accused the foreign nationals of trying to conspire against Belarus and himself. These nationalist views won him an extended term on 9 September 2001. Though watchdogs concluded that the elections were not completely fair, several nations, including Russia, offered support to Lukashenko. Following the tension, he proposed an elimination of presidential term limits. People’s champion, Lukashenko won the favor from 79.42% Belarusian voters. Hence, he got to race in 2006 presidential election as well.
The transitional 2006 presidential elections were particularly controversial in Belarus’ history. The polls showed Lukashenko as a favorite of around 84% voters. Anyway, the remaining opposition voters took to the streets and protested against Lukashenko’s undemocratic leadership. Despite such protests, the elections went ahead and Lukashenko had a landslide victory again. Not much of a surprise: the international organizations deemed elections as rigged and fundamentally flawed. In fact, Lukashenko admitted such allegations and stated that the elections were actually rigged against him. Reportedly, although Lukashenko won 93.5% votes, he asked authorities the win with 86% votes, a proportion typical of the European nations.
Following a melodramatic election in 2006, the election scheduled in 2011 was held on 19 December 2010. This election, too, was full of protests and criticisms from national and international fronts. However, Lukashenko managed to grab 79.65% votes and become the legitimate President of Belarus. He assumed the new term on 22 January 2011. The same month, the European Union announced a travel ban against Lukashenko and his political aides.
Alexander Lukashenko took hold of his throne again in 2015. During his so called dictatorship of two decades, the Belarusian economy has had a steep rise although there have been a few sharp drops. The economy has seen a few double-digit quarterly growths and a few negative growths as well. Currently, the unemployment rate is at 0.9%, although the other figures are relatively high.
- Winner of the international premium of Andrey Pervozvanny “For Faith and Loyalty”, 1995
- The Order of José Marti, Cuba, 2000
- Order of the Revolution, Libya, 2000
- Special prize of the International Olympic Committee “Gates of Olympus”, 2000
- Order “For Services to the Fatherland”, 2nd Class, Russia, 2001
- Honorary citizen of Yerevan, Armenia,2001
- Order of St. Dmitry Donskoy, First Degree, 2005
- Order of St. Cyril (by the Belarusian Orthodox Church), 2006
- Order of St. Vladimir, First Degree, 2007
- Keys to the City of Caracas, Venezuela, 2010
- Order of the Republic of Serbia, 2013
- Order of Alexander Nevsky, 2014
Trump and Lukashenko
After Trump’s victory on November 8, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko congratulated him with a note:
“Your victory proves that American people chose in favor of the politics that is based on honesty, responsibility and searching for change. Having an active, sincere and courageous position during the election campaign, you have shaken up the American society returning it to a real democracy. In foreign policy, Belarus has always maintained the need for constructive cooperation with the United States. I hope that the normalization of relations between our countries will continue under your leadership.”
President Trump and President Lukashenko also had a conversation over the phone recently. According to Lukashenko, the two leaders talked about ways to connect to Russia. He also praised Donald Trump’s choices for his administration.