MINSK, 25 February (BelTA) – Fake leaks concerning Russia's strategy towards Belarus and Belarus' alleged absorption by Russia by 2030 represent no reason for concern. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement while talking to reporters in the sports center Raubichi on 25 February, BelTA has learned.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Do we have our own strategy? We do. Russia is a major nuclear power. Does it have its own strategy? It does. And Russia has its own strategy concerning Belarus among other things – to live like brothers, in peace and friendship. 100%. I totally know these things and I am part of it.”
“They just want to split us one more time. This is why this topic has emerged. There is nothing alive about it. You know my stance. It remains unchanged: we are an independent and sovereign state,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
He stressed that the Russian president understands all these matters in exactly the same way. “He and I talked about these matters during the latest meeting,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “I will tell you a secret: he and I discussed various topics for a long time yesterday. I'd love our relations to always stay this way. And I'd love them to stay like this after my time. And for our children to live in these conditions. This is why don't listen to these lies and idle talk. They were generated in order to split us.”
Speaking about the leak concerning Russia's strategy, Aleksandr Lukashenko did not rule out the possibility that such a document could have existed three years ago when the formation of integration roadmaps (now known as Union State programs) was being discussed. “There were different points of view when we approached it. Some said one kind of things. Others said another kind. Some government officials, a group of people may have suggested to the [Russian] President Administration how Russia should proceed with regard to Belarus,” the head of state said.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, different opinions and proposals were expressed in Belarus in exactly the same way. Experts and members of the parliament came up with various ideas. “I hear them. There were various proposals. Right up to making Russia part of Belarus. If you remember, in response to proposals that Belarus should become part of Russia, I suggested that Russia should become part of Belarus. In 2019-2020 if you remember,” the Belarusian leader mentioned rhetoric of the past.
“But it is not the most important thing. Where were they [authors of the fake document] three years ago? It is an ancient document. Besides, no one possibly tried to hide it. Where were they? Why didn't they speak up sooner?” Aleksandr Lukashenko wondered.
He is convinced that all of it is being done in order to shake up and unravel Belarus ahead of the main election year of 2024 (elections of deputies of all levels and the Belarusian People's Congress) and ahead of the presidential election in 2025. “They have to start shaking up things now. The fugitive oppositionists are abroad and need to train new people. It is true that financing is a bit of a problem for them. We carefully keep an eye on it now. This is why they have started shaking up things little by little. They will find some other topics, too,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
He also pointed out that the fact that the strategy document had been leaked via so many different sources simultaneously indicates that the leak had been authorized. “It is the problem. They want to once again separate and split us,” Aleksandr Lukashenko warned.
The head of state mentioned the intention to once again profoundly present information about all the 28 programs of the Union State of Belarus and Russia soon. The main ones focus on customs affairs and taxation.
Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned excise duties on cigarettes as an example. “Yes, Russians tell us: if you want a common market of cigarettes, if you want to sell your cigarettes on our market, let's equalize the prices. It is the right thing to do. Did we take food out of someone's mouth when we raised excise duties on cigarettes?” he asked a rhetorical question and encouraged Belarusians to stop smoking and lead a healthy lifestyle. “Then tell me what we lost by doing it. We've increased revenues of the state budget at the expense of a non-essential product people can do without.”
The same approach applies to customs affairs. For instance, a group of about 30 Russians has been working in Belarus for quite some time. They interacted with the Belarusian customs service on the relevant matters. “We have now agreed to split this group in half: 15 of our people and 15 of theirs. And only consultation services. Will it be bad if superb specialists will work in this group and will advise us on customs affairs?”
Aleksandr Lukashenko once again reminded that when the integration roadmaps had been discussed, in the end the sides had decided to prune everything that had caused concerns and everything the sides had been unable to realize. This proposal was put forward by the Russian president among other people.
“All the other things are beneficial for us. It is a plus for us,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
Moreover, there were a lot of debates and proposals when tax and customs programs were being discussed, but in the end the sides decided to borrow the best practices from each other.