Road from ‘Europe’s last dictator’ to ‘main peacemaker’. Should West whitewash Lukashenka?

The head of Belarus has given an interview to media holding Bloomberg on Tuesday. The interviewer, journalist Ryan Chilcote, is known to have met with Alyaksandr Lukashenka in 2001. The abridged transcript of that interview can be found in CNN archives.

The conversation took place two days after the 2001 presidential election, when Lukashenka faced a storm of criticism. A ‘big guy’, ‘former head of the collective farm’ and ‘Europe’s last dictator’ – such descriptions were used by mass media to introduce Lukashenka to the audience. Then the worst predictions the West made about ‘the accidental president’ of Belarus came true: elections were rigged; death squads allegedly abducted and killed his political opponents. “Lukashenka: Daddy or dictator?” CNN wondered a day before the interview.

“You think the president can order someone to kill or kidnap someone? Europeans, it seems to me, are supposed to be pretty civilised when it comes to that,” Lukashenka said and laughed (!). “That’s a completely impossible thing for a European to do and I consider myself a European.”

Now this ‘European’ and ‘big guy’ keeps political opponents, including Mikalai Statkevich, his rival in the 2010 presidential election, in prison. According to HRC Viasna, there are six political prisoners in Belarus. Political abductions have never been solved. Did Ryan Chilcote mention them in yesterday’s interview with Lukashenka? Did he ask about the death squads?

For the recent 14 years Lukashenka has failed to become a European for the West. But now he stands a chance to try on the uniform of the ‘main peacemaker’, and the situation around Ukraine might have been the main topic of the interview with the Bloomberg reporter.

Lukashenka was hardly able to reveal something more important than a scrambled eggs recipe for Putin. But without doubt, the first ans still the only Belarusian president made it clear that he had long ‘anticipated’ the events and ‘warned against’ the trouble. And of course, he was trying to stress that Europe’s last dictator is not so bad.

Zmitser Yahorau/MS

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