Lukashenka’s meeting with Russian press – live report

Belarusian president is taking part in an annual press conference with representatives of Russian press. Lukashenka has invited 80 journalists from 74 media outlets for a trip to Belarus that includes sight-seeing of factories, farms, military bases and state institutions. Last year, during a press conference held on the same occasion, Lukashenka expressed many controversial views, for example calling Putin and Miedviediev policies “brainless”. Lukashenka stressed at the beginning of the conference that he will not hide the reality of life in Belarus and will not attempt to show Potemkin villages.

On currency crisis:

In terms of the problems at the currency market and sharp devaluation of the national currency, I do not repent and I don’t expect my subordinate to repent. Look at the development of the rest of the world – no one has won yet in such circumstances.” Instead, Lukashenka blamed Belarusians for the currency shortages – due to importing too many foreign cars.

On Union State of Russian and Belarus:

EurAsEC [Eurasian Economic Community] and CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] appeared only thanks to existence of the Union State. This a very useful and necessary process. As Putin said – this is a proving ground for us to work out and implement new ideas. Look, for example equal rights for citizens. Have you experienced any rights violations since you entered Belarus? Or any other of your citizens, Russians? I almost feel akward saying „yours”, because Russians are our people.”

Lukashenka added that it would be dificult to say where is the border between Russia and Belarus.

On privatization:

Lukashenka addressed the issue of Belaruskali – a state company meant to be sold to Russian capital. There has been a debate surrounding the value of the company. Belarus estimates it to be worth 30 billion dollars. „We are not against privatization. It’s not that we want to keep this „gold mine”, because whoever buys it – they will have to pay taxes here. We said it clearly: price of Belaruskali is minimum 30 billion dollars, and this is not going to change. The shares are great. And when we suggested this price, Sbierbank confirmed it [was accurate].”

I cannot even tell you what kind of [corrupt] proposals I was offered. I tried to explain: it will not work here, we have different practices, no one takes bribes, especially the president. Otherwise, they would have chopped my head off long time ago. They searched for this money [from bribes] everywhere, and they found nothing.”

Lukashenka was asked about share of Russian capital in privatization of Belarusian companies. „You cannot put all the eggs in one basket. Diversifications of privatization – it wasn’t me who invented it. You cannot focus just on one direction.”

Lukashenka also commented on so called „milk” and „sugar” wars fought between Russian and Belarus. „[Russia] is on our side, but anything can happen. That’s why diversification is crucial.”

On homosexuals:

Sikorski and Westerwelle came to see me. And they complain that I don’t accept… eh… what you call it…. „homos”. „Homos” – it’s like man with a man. [laughing]. Homoseksualism. I did not know, to be honest [that Westerwelle is gay]. My minister wrote something about it, but I haven’t finished reading that note. And suddenly Sikorski asked what do I think about non-traditional sexual orientation. And I started to wander: if it’s lesbian love – than man is at fault. Excuse me, one can tolarate a love of a women for another women, but when it comes to men – it’s scary.”

On public opinion polls and detention of Oleg Manaev:

A recent public opinion poll conducted by an Independent Institute for Socio-Economic & Political Studies (IISEPS) shows that only 20% of Belarusians support Lukashenka. The head of the institute Oleg Manaev was briefly detained by the Belarusian police soon after the poll’s results were published.

This is the first time I hear about Manaev [being arrested]. Someone should find out more about it and report to me. And in terms of public opinion polls – well, you all know how it works. If you want to have 90% [of support], you will have it tomorrow. You want 15% – you can have it too. Manaev, as fas as I understood, he is on the Western payroll. He lives in Vilnus. I remember his polls. You know who won the presidential elections, even you believe [in Lukashenka’s victory]. And Manaev polls before the elections showed that Lukashenka was supposed to get only 35%, and now has only 18% and no one supports him anymore. They paid him and so he prepared the poll very carefully. The West needed it – not Manaev. The Belarusian president got officially support of 79.9%, but in reality it was more than 80%.

to be continued…

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