Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko is one of the most well-known politicians of the present-day Belarus. He had not belonged to the Communist Party or government nomenclature, nor had he held any posts in the top power hierarchy. He belongs to a group of statesmen, whose popularity can, first of all, be explained by their personal merits and by the support of the people.
A.G. Lukashenko is notable for his in-depth understanding of events, hard work, sense of duty, realism, fairness and fidelity to principle. He openly voices his opinions, even to the audience not inclined to agree. When being deputy of the BSSR Supreme Soviet he was the only one to vote against the Belovezh Agreements on the abolishment of the USSR, he was exposing corrupt top officials, boldly, without being afraid of conspiracies and cavils.
Being a resolute opposer of the division of the world into confronting force centers and a supporter of peaceful settlement of all disputable problems in accordance with the international law, he believes that the severage of traditional economic, cultural and human ties between the peoples of the former USSR has a tragic effect not only for their historical fate, but also for the well-being of the rest of the world.
A.G. Lukashenko was born on the 30th of August, 1954, in the settlement of Kopys, Orsha district, Vitebsk region. Belarusian. He grew up and reared without father. Since his youth he had to put upon his shoulders a considerable part of the care for his family. That is why it is logical that as early as in childhood such qualities as perseverance, respect to work, sensibility to truth and verity as the main bases of the human soul were being revealed. He was interestedly taking part in the social life of the collectives, in which he studied or worked.
He graduated from two higher educational establishments: the Mogilev State University named after A.A. Kuleshov (1975) and the Belarusian Agricultural Academy (1985). Historian, economist.
A.G. Lukashenko is a strong-willed, inquisitive person, very sensitive to shortcomings of the surrounding life. His dynamic character has brought him a variety of interests, fast gained broad knowledge and professional experience.
In 1975-1977 and in 1980-1982, A.G. Lukashenko served in the frontier troops and in the Soviet Army.
After his service in the Army he worked in Komsomol and Communist party bodies, in the economic sphere - as deputy manager and manager of enterprises of industry, building materials, agroindustrial complex of the BSSR.
Everywhere he worked A.G. Lukashenko was coming forward with many initiatives, achieving positive results and enjoying broad support of the majority of workers. Given the established order of that time, his self-made and independent judgments could not but cause complications. As the President recollected later on, he had had two severe reprimands by the party organs - "because he could not keep silent."
In 1990 A.G. Lukashenko becomes a people's deputy, he is elected to the Supreme Council (Parliament) of the Republic of Belarus.
Speaking at parliamentary debates, he was voicing resolute criticism of extreme viewpoints of the politicians, thereby revealing their weak points. He was expressing with utmost frankness his views on most complicated problems, he had an uncompromising attitude to demagogy, temporization, he was indignant at seeing lack of interest for the destinies of the people.
When holding the post of chairman of the Supreme Council committee on fighting corruption (as it was popularly termed), A.G. Lukashenko proved to be an active and uncompromising people's deputy, who had his own standpoint as to the main ways of reforming and democratization of the country. All the Belarusian society learned about his incorruptibility and resoluteness.
On the 10th of July 1994, as a result of difficult election campaign involving five other contenders from the whole spectrum of the country's political forces, A.G. Lukashenko was elected the President of the Republic of Belarus. He received more than 80 percent of the electors' votes, and, in the conditions of the growing crisis, drastic decline in the living standards of the majority of the people, he started consistent implementation of his programme pledges and, first of all, formation of the national statehood.
Not only the concept of transformations had to be elaborated, but also the ways of reforming the organs of power, whose work had to be put right. There was a need to determine the system of education, training and retraining of staff, to draw up all the other indispensable parts of a modern democratic state: the parliament, the government, the judicial system and the public prosecutor's office, the armed forces, the internal and external affairs. It was a requisite that there should be upgraded or created anew the major NGO's providing the link between the people and the state: the associations of women, of veterans, of trade unions, of youth, and so on. At the same time a most active law making process was being carried on - thousands of new norms had to be put in place in order to regulate all the main needs of the sovereign state.
A.G. Lukashenko took over a most weakened country, which was facing a great number of acute socio-economic problems. Pessimism and apathy were dominant in the society. Centuries-old morals were being ruined, families were being broken, and thousands were slipping down to the abysses of poverty and loss of their individuality.
A.G. Lukashenko united his country citizens' efforts aimed at economic reform, improvement of the work of government bodies, reform of education and health care systems, development of national culture. All major decisions have been taken by him with due account of the opinion of the people.
The referenda of 1995 and 1996 determined the constitutional structure of the country, resolved the language problems, approved the state symbols, spoke up unambiguously for the union with Russia.
A.G. Lukashenko initiated the creation of a powerful democratic institute for invigorating the public opinion in the country - the All-Belarus People's Assembly, which was first held in October 1996 and decided on the guidelines for the country's development until 2000. The second All-Belarus People's Assembly was held in May 2001 and approved the programme of the country's development for the next five years.
An impetus was given to development of the civil society as a system of the NGO's capable of coherently expressing and upholding the national interests and traditions. The Belarusian Union of Women, the Belarusian Patriotic Union of Youth, teachers, judges, representative of other social layers of the society convened their congresses. In order to enhance the level of work of local governments and to promote accelerated development of the regions the Congress of Deputies to the Council of Deputies was held in the Republic of Belarus.
A.G. Lukashenko has formulated new approaches to the ideological and educational work, having taken the Christian values as its basis.
The President has dedicated much time and energy to strengthening and developing the creative organizations; to work with youth, with scientific and pedagogical workers; to public health and education problems; to the pension system; to interconfessional relations; to the ties with the Orthodox Church embracing 80 per cent of the believers in our country; to the ties with the Belarusian communities abroad.
Working out the strategy of spiritual and economic revival A.G. Lukashenko has identified the priorities, which make it possible to use resources and to draw up annual budgets in a more efficient way: exports, housing, food. Innovation and investment activities have been taken as a basis of these priorities, while science and health care have been marked out as the main tools for achieving the supreme goals of the Belarusian state.
This is how A.G. Lukashenko, addressing the second All-Belarus People's Assembly, characterized the essence of changes that have been taking place since 1994:
"For the first time in history of the Belarusian people an independent sovereign Belarusian state has been created.
We have created an efficiently functioning system of state governance, or as it is popularly called "the vertical of power..."
We have preserved and strengthened the structures ensuring national security and defensive capacity.
We have guarded the country against mafia clans, we have not let criminals turn into a political force and force their way to power. There is no devastation, corruption, robbery, disorder and lawlessness in our country.
We have stopped the galloping inflation; we have reduced the state budget deficit. In doing so, we did not count on any external help.
We have not embezzled the common property of the people, we have not got hold of foreign loans, nor have we got into debts that our children and grandchildren would have to pay.
We have upheld and developed social guarantees for the people - housing, pensions, free-of-charge education and medical care covered by the budget.
We have consolidated and developed positive tendencies towards sustainable economic growth."
Is it much or little - what has been done? It is very much - in terms of the historical development of this country, but in view of rank-and-file people, for whom it is difficult to postpone daily wants while being content with general achievements of the country, it is not yet sufficient. And the President does understand it and feels it keenly...
In his activities A.G. Lukashenko proceeds from the fact that sovereignty, true independence of the country are ensured not by street marches, not by demagoguery of the men of straw claiming to be "scientists" and "professionals", not by humiliating requests of the engaged politicians for the "intermediation" by the West, but by calm and painstaking work, and understanding that it is impossible to make up within weeks for what was being lost for years.
The GDP growth in the last five years amounted to 36%, industrial output grew by 65%, investments to the fixed capital grew by 26%. These are the best indices among the CIS participating states, and they are much higher that the plan targets.
The activities of A.G. Lukashenko are inseparable from the life of the country, from the life of working collectives and ordinary people. One can hardly find any notable event in Belarus for the last 5-7 years, which was not influenced by the energy and the will of this man, who has been working for the sake of his Fatherland and his compatriots, who has always found time to meet with working collectives, to listen to their opinion and to extend his support.
Pursuing a multidirectional foreign policy, A.G. Lukashenko develops friendly relations with all countries of the world, he strives to extend our country's involvement in international agencies. Our relationship with the CIS participating states, with China, India, Arab and Afro-Asian countries are becoming increasingly important.
A.G. Lukashenko emphasizes that only comprehensive integration of all European countries in the conditions of equal rights can resolve the problems of unemployment, poverty, education and health care, environmental security. He actively supports international programmes on ensuring the human rights and fundamental freedoms, on fight against terrorism, drug mafia and other negative phenomena.
Belarus has achieved a major strategic breakthrough on the way of establishing integration relationship with Russia. Both countries, starting from the Community of Belarus and Russia and followed by the Union, have arrived at the stage-by-stage construction of the Union State of Belarus and Russia thus marking a major geopolitical event of recent times.
As a rule, A.G. Lukashenko's working day lasts 12-14 hours, but the President knows very well that it is not his own capacity for work that is decisive for success but an aim-oriented, organized toil, and initiative of every citizen of the republic. It is in these aspects of work that the President makes every effort. A.G. Lukashenko enjoys enormous prestige both in our country and abroad. Many are captivated by his honesty and openness, will and perseverance, energy, and constant willingness to learn from whomever his destiny brings him in touch.
The oppositionists, feeling a lack of compromising material and striving to humble A.G. Lukashenko, depreciatingly call him an "agriculturist." However, the President prides himself upon having devoted a lot of efforts to the agrarian production and to the people of rural areas. "All of us come from villages, he often underscores. - Those, who do not feel their motherly land heart in their hearts, those, who are nothing more but "pavement tramplers," will never gain an understanding of the life's problems. Most Lukashenko's supporters and even his opponents agree that the power of the Belarusian President lies in his unity with the people. He embodies a typical Belarusian, in character, in will, in traditions, in aversion to any rigid schemes and dogmas. A.G. Lukashenko treasures the support of the people and is proud of being called "batka" (dad) by the people, such an address having always been used with respect to the authoritative people who courageously protect the interests of the family and community... Responsibility for everybody is an essence of his character. It happens, though, that some try to profit from his confidence in people. As a result the President was deeply wounded, more than once. A.G. Lukashenko strives to gain understanding of every problem personally and, of course, such a hard and exhausting style of leadership is very relevant in the society tired of endless promises and experiments. Serving as an example to his co-nationals, A.G. Lukashenko follows the sober way of life; he denounces idlers, traitors, drunkards, those who do not keep their word. He tries to find time for going in for sport (tennis, skating, skiing, hockey, football), for reading sociological and classical literature. A.G. Lukashenko's ill-wishers try to describe him as a conservative and an enemy to innovations, whilst he does not accept any arm-chair decisions incompatible with real life. He is the only politician in Europe who perceives the truth as, above all else, a category of conscience, and he always demands from politicians that they should comply with moral categories in their decision taking.
A.G. Lukashenko is the Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Belarus Armed Forces; he heads the Security Council of the Republic of Belarus. He is Chairman of the Supreme State Council of the Union of Belarus and Russia.
A.G.Lukashenko's coming to power was not expected by the presumptuous bureaucratic clique who had established a sort of "coexistence" with the pro-Western nationalistic forces. A wall of inaccessibility was at once erected between them and A.G.Lukashenko thus making the state work more difficult.
A.G.Lukashenko once said in one of his addresses that as soon as he was elected, his "comrades-in-arms" invited him for a talk, where a hint was made that it was they who "made him President," and suggested to share with them the wealth of the nation. A.G.Lukashenko answered indignantly that it was to the people of Belarus that he owed his presidency, therefore he would never agree to unlawful means. "Those people were soon dismissed," he added. "But nobody ever imagined what a great nervous stress had I survived. ...Those persons and their associates have never forsaken their demands..."
Indeed, A.G.Lukashenko is a more radical reformer than others who are enjoying the reputation of reformers. Whatever aspect of the life of the nation we take (culture, industry, army, law-enforcement bodies, sport, provision of pensions, etc.), everywhere can we observe very essential positive transformations and changes, which occurred in recent years.
Of course, the sovereignty requires considerable expenditures while the funds are already limited, many problems still remain, and A.G.Lukashenko never trumpets successes. However, the important point is that today the society has a clear idea of its future: it is reflected in the so-called "Belarusian model," which clearly opts for a policy aimed at growing the people's well-being and social welfare.
The Head of the Belarusian State has realistic concepts concerning employment, youth policy, and private business. The latter, in view of the President, must be national in its character and must not be involved in any politics pursuing the interests of international oligarchs.
There are many, both here and abroad, who are but too reluctant to take into account the fact that Belarus has firmly taken the road towards dynamic economic and cultural development. As early as in 1990, the national income of Belarus exceeded its population share in the USSR by 1.5 times, while the per capita income was by 20% higher than its average value for the USSR. Those indices were quite comparable to the respective indices of many European states. It is not so now, but A.G.Lukashenko aspires to regain those achievements.
Not only did Belarus play a major role in the defense industry of the USSR, it also had deployed main military facilities of the Soviet Army on its territory. Having chosen a new course of development, having destroyed a great number of most updated armaments, having decided to voluntary renounce its nuclear weapons (being here the first country in history!), Belarus cannot be satisfied with the status of a second-rate partner.
A.G.Lukashenko thinks that, for some period, the country and its people can be compelled to put up with a beggarly life standard and a role of a political mute, but such foundation cannot be used for building confidence and new relations, both with the West and with the East. It is not arrogance, it is a feeling of a new self-esteem of the nation, which had lived through the horrible war paying with its own blood for the fundamental UN values.
A.G.Lukashenko is also concerned with the Chernobyl problems, which arose through no fault of Belarusians. It is these bitter problems that give rise to many of his political and economic decisions.
A.G.Lukashenko is confident that, in the near future, the life in the post-Soviet countries will find its natural course, which will not be neutral to the attempts to divide the world again and to trigger off a new confrontation. Therefore he resolutely opposes any new resurgence of the cold war and demands unswerving compliance with the international law fundamental principles by all the countries.
During A.G.Lukashenko's presidency, the Belarusian people have carried on ambitious reconstruction and have planted a good crop. Now we can expect it will yield results for the state system, for the economy, for the social sector. To achieve it, it is important to preserve moral and political integrity in the country and social cohesion, and not to allow anyone to draw away the society from its creative labor.
It is what the President strives at, believing, that our wise people cannot be bedeviled by demagogues, no matter whom these demagogues are guided by.
That is why he is calm about hysterical reports in the mass media by today's "intellectuals", being very well aware that they do nothing but copy the "intellectuals" of the perestroika epoch: much hubbub, many lies, much hopes pinned on the nervous and the ignorant. All these sudden "friends of the people" yearn for their own enrichment. They will never be touched by the tears of the deceived and the robbed, the humiliated and the frustrated.
In September 2001 Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko was reelected President of the Republic of Belarus by the overwhelming majority of votes (75.65%).
In the following five years, the country overcame once and for all the aftereffects of the economic crisis of the early and mid-1990s and embarked on a dynamic process of development.
Despite an unprecedented external pressure and the attempts by some countries to blatantly interfere in the internal affairs of Belarus, Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko scored a convincing victory at the elections in March 2006, in which 83 percent of the electors voted in his favour, and he was reelected as the Head of the Belarusian State.
Political Activities of the President of Belarus PRIORITIES OF THE FOREIGN POLICY OF THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS
The foreign policy of President A. G. Lukashenko proceeds from recognition of civilizational multipolarity of the contemporary world, respect of the traditional interests and bases of development of states and peoples.
This policy is characterized by a balanced approach towards the expansion of cooperation with traditional partners in the East and with the Western countries. The leaders of the republic stand up for active mutually beneficial cooperation with all states and interstate entities on the basis of unconditional observance of the norms of international law and fulfillment of the assumed commitments, confirmation of the universal principles of democracy and human rights. A.G. Lukashenko does a lot to ensure the openness of Belarus to business-like interaction.
The Republic of Belarus advocates establishment of an equitable and reliable system of the world security , non-participation in armed conflicts. A.G. Lukashenlo has initiated the necessity of establishment under present conditions of a nuclear free space in Central and Eastern Europe. The Belarusian leaders are interested in the formation of the «good neighbourhood belt» around Belarus , in the establishment of an efficient and mutually beneficial mechanism of cooperation with Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and the Ukraine.
The priority direction of the foreign policy of the Republic of Belarus is in all-round deepening of integration processes and in expansion of bilateral cooperation with Russia, as well as in development of civilizational unity of the post-Soviet space given its historically formed spiritual, cultural and economic community. The signing of the Treaty and the adoption of the Charter of the Union of Belarus and Russia created new opportunities for deepening integration between Belarus and Russia which meets the interests of the people of both countries.
A.G. Lukashenko, being an opponent of any external dictate, proceeds from the assumption that the world will be far more stable if several force centres interact in it on an equal basis and that is why the Republic of Belarus is interested in peaceful Europe, playing its own independent part, and, in broader terms, in Eurasia. That is why the Republic of Belarus is against NATO expansion although it supports the «Partnership for Peace» with the North Atlantic Treaty, that is why Alexander Lukashenko gives particular attention to the development of friendship and cooperation with all countries and, first of all, with traditional Asian partners in the interests of stability, development and good neighbourhood.
Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko is an advocate of international programmes on ensuring human rights and fundamental freedoms, on fight against terrorism, violence, drug abuse and alcoholism.