MINSK, 5 May (BelTA) – I will not allow anyone to ruin the country, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said in an interview with AP, BelTA has learned.
The head of state was asked about "independent" trade unions and mass media in Belarus. "Why are you afraid of such aspects of civil society?" Ian Phillips asked.
"Are you so afraid of women that you shoot to kill them in the Capitol [U.S. Air Force veteran Ashley Babbitt who was shot and killed on 6 January 2021]? this is a rhetorical question. I know you're not afraid. Likewise, I'm not afraid of anyone here. Nobody. But I will not allow anyone to destroy the country," the president said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the situation around Belarus is not easy: "Our western neighbors are dreaming of seizing half of Belarus and returning to the status quo as it was before 1939. The situation is not easy. In the south there is a very heated conflict. Things are not easy. I am the president of the country. I am responsible for the integrity and independence of the state. I see certain threats."
The president recalled how they tried to ruin Belarus with the money of the West in August 2020. "You know who and how was running that blitzkrieg operation. The Associated Press and you, as an experienced journalist, know who was running the show via instant messengers, the internet, and so on. We know whose money was that. My response was logical. That had nothing to do with independence or freedom of speech,” the head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned that the interviewer openly asked him uncomfortable questions and got the answers. “What lack of freedom of speech are you talking about? I express my point of view; you disagree with something. You are very tactful, but nevertheless you ask me all sorts of nasty questions. I am fine with that. You are the main person here today and I am at your service since I have agreed to this interview. I am obliged to answer all the questions you ask. If I do not like Western journalists, I could refuse to give any interviews. Since I have agreed to it, I must listen and offer my answers. Millions are listening to us now. What kind of harassment of freedom of speech is this?” said the president.
“Believe me these ‘independent' trade unions are independent on paper only,” the head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also responded to the allegation that many journalists are imprisoned in Belarus: “Here, when people commit a crime, violate the law and get under investigation, they all immediately become journalists or members of ‘independent' trade unions, so you could hear them and reproach me. One simply must not break the law. The law is the same for everyone, be it journalists, politicians, and so on. The law must be obeyed.”