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Who is Alexander Lukashenko?



ALEXANDER Grigoryevich Lukashenko is the first and only President of Belarus since the establishment of that office on 20 July 1994, making him the longest-sitting European president.


He was born on 30 August 1954 in the settlement of Kopys in the Vitebsk Oblast of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.

In an interview in 2009, Lukashenko said his actual birthday is 31 August, the same as his son’s Nikolai’s which caused some confusion as all official sources had said 30 August 1954 up until then.

An explanation was later given that his mother had entered the hospital on the 30th in labour but did not give birth until after midnight.

Early life

 Lukashenko’s maternal grandfather, Trokhym Ivanovich Lukashenko, was born in the Sumy Oblast of Ukraine near Shostka which today is known as the village of Sobycheve).

 Lukashenko grew up without a father in his childhood, leading him to be taunted by his schoolmates for having an unmarried mother.

Due to this, the origin of his patronymic or middle name Grigorevich is unknown and there are various rumours about who Lukashenko’s father might have been, with the most popular version being that he was a foreigner who passed through the region of his homestead.

His mother Ekaterina Trofimovna Lukashenko (1924–2015) gave birth to another son, Alexander’s older brother, who died. Ekaterina worked in unskilled jobs on a railway, at a construction site, at a flax factory in Orsha and finally as a milkmaid in Alexandria, a small village in the east of Belarus, close to the Russian border.

 Lukashenko went to Alexandria Secondary School. He graduated from the Mogilev Pedagogical Institute (now Mogilev State A. Kuleshov University) in 1975 after four years of studying there. He also studied at Belarusian Agricultural Academy in Horki in 1985.

Political and military life

A new Belarusian constitution enacted in early 1994 paved the way for the first democratic presidential election on 23 June and 10 July.

Six candidates stood in the first round, including Lukashenko, who campaigned as an independent on a populist platform.

In an interview with The New York Times, he declared: “I am neither with the leftists nor the rightists, but with the people against those who rob and deceive them”. Stanislav Shushkevich and Vyacheslav Kebich also ran, with the latter regarded as the clear favourite.

Lukashenko won 45.1% of the vote, while Kebich received 17.4%, Zianon Pazniak received 12.9% and Shushkevich, along with two other candidates, received less than 10% of votes. Lukashenko won the second round of the election on 10 July with 80.1% of the vote.

 The presidential inauguration was held in the halls of the Government House, on 20 July 1994, exactly 10 days after the election, during a special meeting of the parliament, the Supreme Council.

Shortly after his inauguration, he addressed the State Duma of the Russian Federation in Moscow proposing a new union of Slavic states, which would culminate in the creation of the Union of Russia and Belarus in 1999.

Before his political career, Lukashenko worked as director of a state farm (sovkhoz), and served in the Soviet Border Troops and in the Soviet Army. Lukashenko continued state ownership of key industries in Belarus after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and retained important Soviet-era symbolism, which can be seen in the coat of arms and national flag of Belarus, adopted following a controversial 1995 referendum, which were based on those of the Byelorussian SSR.

 Following the same referendum, Lukashenko was given more power with the ability to dismiss the Supreme Soviet of Belarus and another referendum in 1996 allowed Lukashenko to further consolidate power.

 The Russian language was also given the same status as Belarusian, and economic ties with Russia were strengthened, which furthermore led to the creation of the Union State with Russia, which allows Belarusians to freely travel to, work, and study in Russia, and vice versa. Lukashenko heads an authoritarian government and has referred to himself as the “last dictator” in Europe.

Elections in Belarus are not considered to be free and fair by international monitors, opponents of the regime are repressed, and the media is not free, leading to sanctions on Lukashenko and other Belarusian officials being imposed.

His disputed victory in the country’s 2020 presidential election led to widespread allegations of vote rigging, which strongly amplified anti-government protests, the largest during his rule.

 Following the contested election, Lukashenko is not recognised by the United Kingdom, the European Union, or the United States as the legitimate president of Belarus.


With the ascent to power of Lukashenko in 1994, the Russification policy of Russian Imperial and Soviet era was renewed. Since the November 1996 referendum, Lukashenko has effectively held all governing power in the nation.

 Under the Constitution, if the House of Representatives rejects his choice for prime minister twice, he has the right to dissolve it.

His decrees have greater weight than ordinary legislation. He also has near-absolute control over government spending; parliament can only increase or decrease spending with his permission. However, the legislature is dominated by his supporters in any event, and there is no substantive opposition to presidential decisions.

 Indeed, every seat in the lower house has been held by pro-Lukashenko MPs for all but one term since 2004. He also appoints eight members of the upper house, the Council of the Republic, as well as nearly all judges.

Foreign relations

On 17 August 2020, the members of the European Parliament issued a joint statement which stated that they do not recognise Alexander Lukashenko as the President of Belarus, considering him to be persona non grata in the European Union.

On 19 August, the member states of the European Union agreed to not recognise the results and issued a statement saying “The 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results”.

The governments of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have also refused to recognise the results.

 In an interview on 22 August, Josep Borrell explicitly stated that the European Union does not recognise Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus in the same manner that it does not recognise Nicolás Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

Ties with Putin and Ukraine’s war

Lukashenko and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin are allies. During the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, Lukashenko undertook two working visits to Russia, one of the few European leaders to undertake foreign visits during the pandemic.

His first visit to Russia was to attend the rescheduled Moscow Victory Day Parade on Red Square together with his son. In March 2022, Australia sanctioned Lukashenko for giving “strategic support to Russia and its military forces” in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

 Two weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian soldiers conducted joint military exercises close to the Belarusian border with Ukraine, where up to 30 000 Russian troops, as well as almost all of the Belarusian armed forces took part in for 10 days.

In February last year, Russia used Belarus as a springboard to invade Ukraine, deploying thousands of forces to its neighbour under the pretext of military drills before launching its offensive.

 According to military monitors, Lukashenko in November last year Lukashenko allowed up to 10,000 newly mobilized Russian troops to train in his country and sent to Moscow at least 211 pieces of heavy military equipment like trucks and tanks to support Putin in the war against Ukraine.

 In December last year as the Ukraine war heated up, Putin travelled to Belarus to meet Lukashenko in his first visit in more than three years for talks on security and “joint measures to respond to emerging challenges.”

 According to Kyiv, Russia to date continues to use Belarusian airspace for drone and missile attacks and Lukashenko supports Putin’s air defence systems.

 Lukashenko in the past summoned Ukraine’s ambassador to the country after saying Minsk had downed a Ukrainian S-300 air defence missile in its own field.

Religion and beliefs

Lukashenko describes himself as an “Orthodox atheist” and he does not respect or hold Christians in high esteem.

 He has said that he believes that the president should be a conservative person and avoid using modern electronic technology such as a tablet or smartphone. He used to play the bayan, a musical instrument similar to an accordion.

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