Who is Alexander Lukashenko – President of Belarus?
Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko is a Belarusian politician who has been President of Belarus since July 20, 1994, making him the country’s longest-serving and current president.
Lukashenko worked as the director of a state farm (sovkhoz) and served in the Soviet Border Troops and the Soviet Army before entering politics.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lukashenko maintained state ownership of key industries in Belarus and retained important Soviet-era symbolism,
as seen in the coat of arms and national flag of Belarus, which were adopted following a contentious 1995 referendum and were based on the symbols of the Byelorussian SSR.
Lukashenko is the leader of an authoritarian regime and has been dubbed Europe’s “last tyrant.”
International observers have found that elections are not free and fair, that regime opponents are suppressed, and that the media is not free, resulting in penalties against Lukashenko and other Belarusian officials.
From 1975 to 1977, he served in the Border Guard (border soldiers), where he was an instructor of the political department of military unit No. 2187 of the Western Frontier District in Brest, and from 1980 to 1982, he served in the Soviet Army.
He joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1979.
He became the deputy chairman of a collective farm after leaving the military in 1982, and in 1985, he was appointed to director of the Gorodets state farm and construction materials company in the Shklow area.
He was appointed director of the Gorodets state farm in Shklow district in 1987 and was one of the first in the Mogilev Region to introduce a leasing contract to a state farm in early 1988.
Early in 1994, a new Belarusian constitution was approved, paving the stage for the country’s first democratic presidential election, which took place on June 23 and July 10.
In the first round, six candidates ran, including Lukashenko, who ran as an independent on a populist platform. “I am neither with the leftists nor the rightists,” he said in an interview with The New York Times.
Lukashenko characterizes himself as an “Orthodox atheist” who believes the president should be conservative and refrain from utilizing new technological devices such as an iPad or iPhone.
He used to play the bayan, an accordion-like musical instrument, and he has a spitz named Umka as a pet dog.
In 1975, Lukashenko married his high school girlfriend Galina Zhelnerovich. His oldest son, Viktor, arrived later that year. In 1980, they welcomed their second child, Dmitry. Galina lives alone in the village of Shklow in a house.