President gives press conference

Within five hours Aliaksandr Lukashenka answered questions set by journalists of state-run and independent media outlets. There were about 350 representatives of home and foreign media organisations. Belsat calls your attention to the most interesting moments of today’s conference (being updated)
Political prisoners and dissidents
Answering the question about the release of political prisoners Autukhovich, Bialiatski, Statkevich, Lukashenka said: “They will be at liberty after serving their terms. If you want to know what they should do to be set free on parole, study our laws and read newspaper Belarus Today [former Soviet Byelorussia].”
News agency BelaPAN asked Lukashenka about his promise to give permission to leave the country to journalist Iryna Khalip who was found guilty in participation in mass riot after the presidential elections on December 19, 2012 and sentenced to two years of imprisonment with suspended execution of the sentence.
“Khalip refused to go. She realizes that she is a martyr here. Abroad she won’t be in demand, like her husband who left for somewhere. Who talks about him except you? And you also don’t care about him. The same thing will happen to Iryna,” he said.
“You fix the blame on us that there are some political prisoners. I could understand if Statkevich were called so becase of his political activities and participation in the presidential elections campaign. But you also consider some troublemakers and chooligans to be political prisoners,” Lukashenka expressed his resentment. He does not keep track of repeated demands to release and rehabilitate them, Lukashenka added.
“You, democratic Europe, banned some persons from entering [the EU] instead of negotiating! 232 people! Even my children! Ok, my eldest son is my aide, but my second son, Dzmitry, is not engaged in politics!” the President complained.
Coercive modernization
“It does not matter whether you want to put modernization into practice or not. We will implement both economic and and administrative measures to force people to work. We made mistakes <…> but all wrong including decrees and orders will be forgotten, but enterprises which people work at will be preserved,” Lukashenka voiced his confidence.
2013 is the year of economy
“Should the President abandon his luxurious Maybach, sell Turkmenbashi’s plane having gold screensin its shower unit and save money on his residencies and security?” a Radio Liberty asked.
According to Lukashenka, he lives in old residencies of Soviet leaders and any journalist would advise him to build new ones after visiting them.
Aircrafts are not cheap but a president should change them every 3-5 years, Lukashenka stated. He bought the one which ever belonged to Saparmurat Niyazov in an effort to save money because it costed less than $100 mln while a price for a new one can reach $250-300 mln, he said. As for Maybach, it was a birthday gift.
Family circle
Aliaksandr Lukashenka revealed that he had given his youngest son Kolya an air gun as a New Year present. “He is a future special operations soldier,” he said. As for Dzmitry and Viktar Lukashenka, they got nothing from him: his main present was the presidential New Year tree, “it was for all,” he confessed.
Belarusian leader does not bargain for Lithuanian support
Talking about its forthcoming presidency of the European Union Lukashenka gave a hint that Lithuania does not take decision on its own discretion in the frames of the European Union and stressed that in 2015 the EU would start cutting aid to our neighbour. Under such conditions it would be mad to lose Belarus as a partner, he said. According to Lukashenka, the Belarusian side might well forge closer links to Latvian and Russian ports.
The President also mentioned the teddy bear airdrop organised by Swedish pilots who flied to Belarus from Lithuania: “If they send planes to our territory we will step up to protect the state border,” he said.
Devaluation again?
According to Lukashenka, a market-dependent rate of the Belarusian rubel is establishing now. He called on Belarusians not to be panic queueing up in exchange offices: it is the pensioners who are standing in lines there. “If prices were higher people would not buy foreign currency. They would rack their brains over paying bills. Our people do have money,” he stated.
There have been no devaluation and would not be any, Lukashenka said and added that $5bn arrived in the country last year.
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