CNN Editorial Research
Here is a glimpse into the life of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Date of Birth: August 30, 1954 (some sources say August 31)
Place of birth: Kopys, Belarus
Last name and first name: Alexander Grigorievich Lukashenko
Dad: name not publicly available
Mother: Yekaterina Loukachenko, milkmaid
Wedding: Galina (Zhelnerovich) Lukashenko (1975-present)
Children: with Galina (Zhelnerovich) Loukachenko: Viktor and Dmitry; with Irina Abelskaya: Nikolai “Kolya”
Education: Mogilev Pedagogical Institute (now Mogilev A. Kuleshov State University), history, 1975; Belarusian Agricultural Academy, Economics, 1985
Military service: Soviet army
Religion: called himself an “orthodox atheist”
Was elected president in Belarus’ first democratic elections in 1994, but subsequent elections were marred by allegations of tough tactics and voting irregularities and were won by surprisingly wide margins.
Has been described as “the last dictator in Europe”.
Lukashenko maintained his country’s close political ties with Russia, restricted opposition movements and censored the media.
1975-1977 – Enlisted in the army and served as an instructor in the border guards along the western border of Belarus.
1980-1982 – Serves in the Soviet Army.
1987-1994 – Head of the Gorodets State Farm in the Mogilev region.
1990-1994 – Member of the Supreme Council of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR), where he became a deputy and later founded a faction called Communists for Democracy.
1991 – Only member of the Belarusian parliament to vote against the agreement which leads to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
July 10, 1994 – Is elected President of Belarus with 80% of the vote, beating Prime Minister Vyacheslav Kebich in the country’s first presidential election.
May 1995 – Is behind a referendum that strengthens integration with Russia, including making the Russian language equal to Belarusian and replacing the national flag and state symbols with symbols similar to those of the former -Soviet Union. The referendum also gives Lukashenko the right to dissolve parliament.
November 1996 – Is at the origin of a referendum which revises the Constitution to give more authority to the presidency, in particular by limiting the authority of the Constitutional Court and by extending the presidential term of Lukashenko. An impeachment attempt fails and Lukashenko signs a new constitution.
1997-2021 – Head of the Belarusian Olympic Committee.
1999 – Signature of a treaty making Belarus a “state of union” with Russia.
September 9, 2001 – is re-elected president with 75% of the votes.
October 2004 – A referendum is passed to eliminate the presidential term limits.
April 20, 2005 – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice designates Belarus as “The last real dictatorship in the heart of Europe”, in an interview with CNN.
March 2006 – Is re-elected president with more than 80% of the votes.
December 2010 – is re-elected president with almost 80% of the votes.
October 2015 – Is re-elected president with 83.5% of the votes.
March 28, 2020 – Talk about coronavirus after playing ice hockey in front of a crowded stadium in Minsk, Belarus. Not specifying any scientific evidence, he says the “refrigerator” like area is a “real antiviral remedy.”
July 28, 2020 – Lukashenko says he contracted the coronavirus but recovered without any symptoms, according to a report by the official Belta news agency. He has repeatedly rejected the threat posed by Covid-19, touted home remedies and refused to shut down his country, making Belarus an outlier in Europe.
Aug 9, 2020 – Lukashenko is re-elected with 80% of the votes. Its main opposition candidate, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, receives about 10%. She was replacing her husband, Sergei Tikhanovski, after he was jailed in May in the run-up to elections. Riots ensue.
Aug 10, 2020 – The demonstrations resume. Around 3,000 people are arrested and dozens injured in clashes with the police, the Interior Ministry said in a statement consulted by the official Belta news agency. Tikhanovskaya rejects the preliminary election results and files a complaint with the Belarusian Central Election Commission demanding a recount of the votes. She left for Lithuania shortly after.
Aug 16, 2020 – Lukashenko delivers a speech to an estimated crowd of less than 10,000 supporters, according to the CNN team in Minsk, Belarus. He claims Belarus is threatened by foreign interference. At the same time, protesters are calling for a new presidential election, in a crowd estimated at 50,000 according to the CNN team.
Aug 17, 2020 – Visits a factory in Minsk, Belarus, according to videos posted by local media and discusses the election. “You talk about dishonest elections and want to organize new elections,” he told protesting workers. “We held the elections and until you kill me there will be no new elections.” The crowd chants: “Yes, yes without you.
September 19, 2020 – 430 people are being held during election protests across Belarus, according to the Belarusian Interior Ministry. Of these, 415 are in the capital Minsk. Some 385 people were released on September 20.
September 23, 2020 – Lukashenko is invested for a sixth consecutive term as president in an unexpected ceremony in Minsk, Belarus, according to state media. Opposition politicians describe the ceremony as a “meeting of thieves” and a “farce”. The United States and a number of countries in the European Union are issuing statements rejecting the legitimacy of Lukashenko’s victory.
September 24, 2020 – European Union issues statement regarding presidential election in Belarus. “The European Union does not recognize their falsified results. On this basis, the so-called “inauguration” of September 23, 2020 and the new mandate claimed by Alexander Lukashenko lack any democratic legitimacy.
December 7, 2020 – Following an investigation “concerning athletes, officials and sports in Belarus”, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspends the Executive Board of the National Olympic Committee of Belarus “from all IOC events and activities, including Olympic Games “. The election by Lukashenko of his son Viktor Lukashenko to replace him as President of the Belarusian NOC is not recognized, according to an IOC press release dated March 8, 2021.
May 23, 2021 – A Ryanair flight from Athens to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius is intercepted and forced to land in Minsk, Belarus, as it is about to begin its descent. When it lands, prominent opposition activist Roman Protasevich and his Russian partner Sofia Sapega, who are on the flight, are arrested. Protasevich is one of dozens of journalists and activists campaigning in exile against Lukashenko’s 26-year reign. Lukashenko later claimed that the flight was hijacked due to a bomb threat from Switzerland, claims Swiss authorities refute. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda later told CNN that the email indicating a bomb threat was sent 30 minutes after Lithuanian authorities received the signal from Minsk to land the plane.
May 24, 2021 – The European Union calls on airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace, in response to the forced landing of the Ryanair flight. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc “closes our airspace to planes from Belarus” and calls on EU airlines not to fly over the country. She adds that “new economic sanctions will be presented soon”.
May 24, 2021 – The US National Security Council publishes a reading of an appeal between National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Democratic Opposition Leader Tikhanovskaya. Sullivan “strongly condemned the brazen and dangerous grounding of a Ryanair flight between two EU member states on May 23 and the subsequent deportation and detention of journalist Raman Pratasevich.” He demands the immediate release of Protasevich, fair elections and declares “that the United States, in coordination with the EU and other allies and partners, will hold the Lukashenka regime to account”.
May 27, 2021 – The International Civil Aviation Organization has announced that it will conduct an investigation into the hijacking of the flight, while at least two European carriers say Russian authorities denied them permission to travel to Moscow after asking to take an alternative route bypassing Belarusian airspace.
May 28, 2021 – Russian President Vladimir Putin cements his support for Lukashenko in a meeting, claiming that the West’s reaction to the interception and forced landing of an airliner “was an explosion of emotion”. On the same day, US aviation authorities warned airlines “to exercise extreme caution” when overflying Belarus.
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