The work schedule of the Belarus president is always full of events. Aleksandr Lukashenko holds conferences and working meetings on the most topical matters concerning the country's development, regularly visits the regions, goes on foreign trips and welcomes foreign guests, talks to reporters, signs decrees and laws. And even if there are no public events, it does not mean that the head of state does not work. It must be said that even when he relaxes, for instance, by playing ice hockey or chopping firewood, Aleksandr Lukashenko happens to find the time to give yet another instruction. All the decisions must be prompted by life, he likes to say.
The President's Week project is intended for those, who want to keep up with the head of state, be up-to-date on the latest statements and decisions of the Belarusian leader.
What did Aleksandr Lukashenko talk about with a six-time world kickboxing champion? What is the situation with Belarusian sport in the international arena? Why did the president have to convene a major conference with defense, security, and law enforcement officers? And against what did he want the harshest methods employed? What do bells of the WW2 memorial Khatyn remind of to descendants of death squads? How is the memorial becoming a focus of people's power? Excellent work of security agencies, a uranium provocation and ire of the West, the first question Aleksandr Lukashenko intends to discuss with Putin, economic optimism, and next year's elections are also in the new episode of BelTA's YouTube project President's Week.
WARM-UP BEFORE BREAKTHROUGH. Why is cooperation with Russia's Kalmyk Republic more than it seems?
Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko began his work week by meeting with Head of the Republic of Kalmykia of Russia Batu Khasikov in the Palace of Independence. Kalmykia is a constituent territory of the Russian Federation, which is located in the extreme southeast of Russia's European part. Kalmykia is comparatively small: only a third of Belarus' territory with a population of 264,000 people. Nevertheless, it has quite practical interests in advancing cooperation, which has been recently only gaining pace. This region has rich history and is interesting from the tourism point of view. For instance, Kalmykia is Europe's only region where Buddhism is a traditional religion.
Aleksandr Lukashenko and Batu Khasikov did not talk only about interaction in trade and economy. Aleksandr Lukashenko referred to Batu Khasikov's personal experience. He was a professional kick boxer and was a world kickboxing champion many times. “You have a wealth of experience that can be extremely useful for Belarusians. If you help us, we will really appreciate it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. Moreover, last month the head of Kalmykia visited the Minsk Arena, the Olympic Park ice rink and could see with his own eyes that Belarus has great infrastructure to promote physical education and professional sports.
“I think that you, as a professional athlete, will be interested in our sports infrastructure, our expertise and best practices in training athletes across many disciplines, physical education for the youth. All the conditions are in place for this in our country,” the president noted. “We are always happy to host high-profile international competitions, as well as individual training camps of Russian teams. Thank God (it was a blessing in disguise), Belarus and Russia intensified cooperation in athletic training and in holding competitions in many sports. I think that this year we will surpass ourselves in organizing these events. And we will consistently work to get our neighbors interested, as well as people from Asian and African states. If someone from Europe or Latin America wants to join us, they are more than welcome to do this with us and Russians.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that despite the distance, Belarus and Kalmykia have common history and values. “Our ancestors jointly defended the legacy of the October Revolution, won a Great Victory in the fight against fascism, rebuilt the country from ruins doing extraordinarily hard work. We were raised to create, not to break. This unites us, makes us stronger in the face of all kinds of challenges,” the Belarusian leader said.
Prospects of cooperation
As far as contacts with Kalmykia are concerned, they are gaining momentum, the president believes. An additional impetus to this was given by the exchange of visits in September 2022, by meetings and negotiations. “Yet, I am sure that a real economic breakthrough is still ahead,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “Using sports terminology, I would say that our current trade is not even the first attempt, but actually a warm-up before this first attempt.”
“We have a lot of products that might be of interest to your region - mechanical engineering products, construction products, IT, pharmaceuticals and high-tech transport,” the Belarusian leader continued. “In today's conditions, we can offer products with a good value for money.”
At the same time, Belarus believes that it is high time to move from occasional trade deals to long-term contracts, to build repair facilities and spare parts warehouses, and strengthen industrial cooperation, the president noted.
In addition to agricultural machinery, trucks and passenger vehicles, Aleksandr Lukashenko advised the head of Kalmykia to pay attention to Belarus' solutions in the agricultural sector and processing industry. After all, Kalmykia, as well as a number of other regions of Russia, launched a large-scale construction program, and Belarus can offer a lot in this regard: competencies, machinery, equipment, materials as well as expertise and knowledge as it has experience in building various facilities across Russian regions. Cooperation in education, sports, tourism, medical services and culture holds a lot of promise, too. Belarus is ready to consider proposals within the shortest time possible.
A direct flight
The head of state confirmed Belarus' interest in Elista-Minsk flights that can be operated by Russian air carriers. “The Belarusian side is ready to consider exclusive preferences for Russian airlines at our national airport within the framework of this project,” the head of state stressed.
“I expect a great interest in Belarus on your part. We are ready to meet your needs to the extent that you need. The doors are open for you as well as for all Russians. You are welcome to adopt any of our best practices. If you need help on the ground, we will be happy to come and provide the necessary assistance and learn something new from you,” the head of state summed up.
SPORT AFFAIRS. What did Aleksandr Lukashenko talk about with the NOC's president?
On 20 March Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with President of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Belarus Viktor Lukashenko.
The head of state said that he was well aware of the state of sport in Belarus. Therefore, the main topic of the conversation was the situation with the Belarusian sport on the international scene, including the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games. Both government agencies and public organizations are actively involved in the relevant work. The president was keen to learn about cooperation with the National Olympic Committee on the matter.
Aleksandr Lukashenko and Viktor Lukashenko also discussed the preparation and organization of the 2nd CIS Games which Minsk is set to host in August 2023. Previously the Belarus president had stressed that these international competitions were very important for the country's entire sport industry.
A SERIOUS TREND. Why did the president convene a major conference with defense, security, and law enforcement officers?
On 21 March Aleksandr Lukashenko hosted a major conference with representatives of the country's defense, security, and law enforcement agencies. Representatives and top officials of the prosecution service, the Financial Investigations Department of the State Control Committee, the Investigative Committee, the State Security Committee (KGB), the Internal Affairs Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the Emergencies Ministry, the State Border Committee, the State Customs Committee, the State Forensic Examination Committee, courts of general jurisdiction and heads of regions were invited to attend.
Plans to hold the event were discussed at the meeting between the head of state and Prosecutor General Andrei Shved in early February 2023. “Let us gather the entire power bloc to discuss the results of the previous year. We will talk about the tasks we have. I think we will get together here, in the Palace of Independence, in the largest hall, and have a frank discussion about the tasks and shortcomings. Most importantly, the shortcomings of the security bloc, including the army,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the meeting on 6 February.
Beginning the conference, the head of state noted that while presenting their reports, top-ranking officers of defense, security, and law enforcement agencies often try to cast their work in a good light. While Belarusian defense, security, and law enforcement are truly doing quite well, there are always shortcomings. They should not be neglected and should be promptly fixed. “As is the custom, at the beginning of every year every minister of the uniformed agencies reports to me on the situation within their jurisdiction. Naturally, you understand what kind of reports these are. I do not mean to say that they are not professional. They are very professional. But as I noticed, however, the tendency and trend is to show everything in a good light. I do not mean it is a lie. It is not. Our security, defense and law enforcement services are doing quite well. But there are shortcomings. I am not as profound a professional as the prosecutor general, for instance, in order to give an assessment of your written reports,” the Belarusian leader pointed out.
He added that he had had no opportunity to attend the outcome meetings of each agency's collegiums this year. Aleksandr Lukashenko plans to do so at the beginning of next year. “I plan to attend the outcome meetings of the collegiums of all the agencies from the Prosecutor General's Office to the Investigative Committee in January-February 2024 and sum up certain results, sum up what we've accomplished over the past five years,” the president said.
“Given your well-prepared written reports, after the prosecutor general presented his report, he was instructed to prepare a thorough report with the analysis of the situation in the security, defense and law enforcement agencies,” Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded.
During the meeting Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned the recent neutralization of a foreign terrorist in Grodno. He praised excellent work of security agencies.
“The special services did a great job. An entire arsenal of weapons and explosives was seized. These weapons were intended for high-profile terrorist attacks against individuals and government officials,” the head of state said. “What I want to praise our guys specifically for is that in such a difficult situation when the shootout was taking place within a limited space, inside an apartment and when the terrorist used grenades and firearms (automatic ones at that), not a single member of the Alpha team involved in detaining this person was killed. It means conclusions have been made after the latest tragedy that happened in Minsk. It was a good operation, good job. As I often say, people who risk their lives should always be acknowledged and supported.”
“But the fact that they seized a whole arsenal of weapons and explosives intended for high-profile terrorist attacks against citizens and officials... All the wishes and plans [of the terrorist] were documented. As usual, it is necessary to inform the public about the outcomes of this operation and the foiled plans of our enemies. People should know this. And you, the heads of uniformed agencies, know better than anyone else that this is another signal to us,” the Belarusian leader stated.
Preparedness for any events
“The highest level of external threats prompts us to pay close attention to internal threats, too. After all, these are links of the same chain. The latest reports show how relevant today's discussion is. You know the situation by and large. But as I keep saying, we should not lower our guard,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.
“We have to be prepared for any events. This is why matters concerning the counteraction of foreign and domestic threats must be under special control today,” the president stressed.
Social security of children and pensioners
On the whole, judging from the reports the head of state receives, the overall crime situation in the country is under control - the total number of crimes has not changed over the past year. The number of murders has decreased. The number of people who died from criminal offenses has dropped by 13%.
“However, this is not the reason to get complacent. In the past year there have been a number of negative trends to which we must surely pay attention. Work on crime prevention, especially phishing, is insufficient. The number of victims of these phishing scams has doubled. The number of pensioners who fall victim to so-called phone scammers, has increased nearly fivefold,” the Belarusian leader said.
The head of state asked about the measures the police and other government agencies were planning to take in this regard. “We need to protect these people. Children and pensioners must know that the government will always support and protect them,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
To eradicate violence
Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that women and children continue to be victims of violence, including sexual abuse. “It is necessary to step up efforts to protect them as well as to prevent juvenile delinquency. Men, if we cannot protect our women, we are worthless! The toughest measures must be implemented in this regard!” said the head of state.
“You understand, we always take it easy, as people say, because this does not affect our wives or our daughters. God forbid, of course, but just sit down and imagine this happening. And after you picture it in your mind, you will know what to do. It must be eradicated from our society by the toughest methods. Like the fight against terrorism,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.
Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to the problem of recidivism and crimes among the unemployed. “We see a large number of grave crimes committed by persons who had been previously convicted. Recidivism is particularly common among those who have served a jail sentence. Here, too, we need to take tougher action against them. Some of them are granted early release, some serve their sentence in full. When they are out of jail, they go back to their old wicked ways. I want to reiterate: a jobless person is a potential criminal. The measures that we take to give them jobs are insufficient,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The president noted that it is necessary to pay close attention to people who have no jobs. How do they provide for themselves? “If a person doesn't work, where does he or she get money for a living? It is clear where,” the head of state remarked.
The practice of encouraging law enforcement officers to hit certain numerical goals per time period should be abandoned. Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Our society doesn't live in a vacuum and sees everything that's going on. Some people believe that law enforcement personnel are primarily interested in figures and ratings that measure their performance instead of people's destinies. Yes, we need figures and ratings. Nobody argues against that. But if we live purely for the sake of figures and ratings… I'd like to find out whether it is true, whether we have moved away from departmental quotas as a system to measure performance.”
The president stated that not everything has been done to ensure the security and safety of the population. The number of people killed in traffic accidents remains significant.
Poor military discipline
Aleksandr Lukashenko was also concerned about crimes among military personnel, including crimes committed by officers of various defense, security, and law enforcement agencies. “What is the cause of such phenomena?” he asked those present. The president remarked he had repeatedly directed the defense minister's attention to the inadmissibility of the things that sometimes happen in army units.
“On the whole, not everything is fine with army discipline. We see perfectly well and understand what is going on at the borders of our country. The question is whether we fully ensure the security of our state and citizens,” Aleksandr Lukashenko wondered.
On the whole, the president urged the speakers to provide an analysis of the reasons behind negative phenomena and come up with concrete proposals on sorting out things. “What problems do defense, security, and law enforcement agencies have and what needs to be done to address these problems?” Aleksandr Lukashenko wondered.
MEMORY BELLS. Why is it important not to forget the road to Khatyn?
On 22 March Belarusians commemorated residents of the village of Khatyn, which was burned down by the Nazi 80 years ago. As they commemorate Khatyn, Belarusians recall thousands of other Belarusian villages that were destroyed by the Nazi invaders during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. A memorial complex was created at the site of the village during the Soviet period. Khatyn became a monument to all the burned-down villages of Belarus.
The Belarus president could not but take part in the commemorative event on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the tragedy in Khatyn. Aleksandr Lukashenko and his sons visited the memorial complex.
A museum was built there ahead of the anniversary and massive restoration work was done. “The exhibition that will be there is the key element. I want people's hearts broken already before they step in here,” the president said as he visited the Khatyn memorial in April 2022. Young Belarusians did not stay away from the initiative of the head of state and got actively involved in the project. As a result the reconstruction of the memorial complex was given the status of an All-Belarusian Youth Construction Site. The project brought together families and worker collectives from all over the country.
Our pain and sorrow
The head of state was shown the museum exhibition, which tells the story of the tragedy of Khatyn, and also shows, through the connection of generations and eras, what wars, hardships and deprivations the ancestors of modern inhabitants of Belarus faced, and how they had to defend their native land and the right to live on it. The main emphasis is placed on the events of World War II and the Great Patriotic War.
The museum features a lot of exhibits and modern interactive technologies, which can tell a very realistic story about the terrible events of the past years. Behind every wall, every photo in the museum are the terrible crimes committed by the Nazis and their collaborators on the Belarusian soil.
The total number of burned and damaged villages in Belarus is 10,961. But even this figure is not the final one, the president was told.
“It is truly unique,” the head of state said after the tour of the museum.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that earlier the events of the war years had been depicted in a somewhat cinematic way. In the new museum everything is as close to reality as possible. “Everything is simple and understandable. Exactly as it was then,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.
He is sure that the exposition will impress visitors. After visiting the museum the head of state left a note in the distinguished visitors' book: “Come here as often as possible yourself. Bring your children and grandchildren. Let them learn the heroic truth and the terrible price paid for the future of future generations. Because as soon as we forget the way to the places that are tragic and sacred to us, disaster can once again be at our doorstep. Belarus remembers.”
“Together we have implemented a project designed to make the memory of horrors of that war even more painful. I very much wanted people to feel pain in their hearts even before they set foot on the sacred soil of Khatyn. I think we've managed to accomplish that,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said during the commemorative event.
While talking to reporters, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that he always gets a special inimitable feeling during visits to Khatyn. “Essentially, what happened here cannot be compared not only to crimes of the Nazi but crimes of other scoundrels and scum,” the head of state said. “Our entire land is dotted with monuments. While Belarus was a land of castles in the Middle Ages, now it is a land of monuments.”
“It's our pain, our memory. This memory brings us here,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “I said for a reason (I didn't read it anywhere, these are my words): as long as we come here together with children, this will not happen again. If we forget this road, this will definitely happen again. Young Belarusians are good people. But a lot gets forgotten, gets erased from the memory. But in Belarus we remember those times. Meanwhile, other countries do not just forget some things – Nazis walk along the streets over there.”
“It is important and topical for us. May this immortal piece of land be an example of how to honor the people, thanks to whom we live here today,” the head of state said.
A reminder for descendants of butchers
In the memorial complex Aleksandr Lukashenko honored memory of the fallen. He laid flowers at the monument The Unconquered Man and a wreath at the Eternal Flame.
In his speech Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that this tragedy as well as thousands of equally horrible crimes committed during the Great Patriotic War remain set in stone and in the heart of the Belarusian nation forever.
The president went on saying: “Up till now we've been trying not to burden with the feeling of guilt children and grandchildren of the butchers, who came to our land in order to conclusively put the problem of Slavs to rest. Eastern Slavs. We have not previously underlined that most of the Western Europe countries had joined Nazi Germany and the world capital had paid for this crusade. Today they enforce sanctions against us and have launched an economic and informational war. But we haven't forgotten and will remind descendants of the death squads how the Belarusian land became one big death camp back in 1941. How people were burned alive, crushed by tanks, drowned, and killed with direct heavy cannon fire. How children were buried alive in order to save bullets. How chemical agents were sprayed over our towns and villages.”
Place of power of the victorious Belarusian nation
During the ceremony the memory of those who died during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 was honored with a minute of silence.
The president pointed out that fascism has no human face, but it has names: “These are names of murderers and traitors. And we know them. There are heirs and ideological successors whose gene of hatred towards us, the entire Slavic civilization, our people has activated again. ‘Aryan standards' were replaced with liberal democratic values. They have been filtering out people who do not meet the new standard for a long time. This is done by means of color revolutions, riots, proxy wars, sanctions, blackmail. We also know how far this can go.”
"Unfortunately, we already see in neighboring countries, where modern neo-Nazism has reared its head on the ruins of the memory of the Soviet heritage and the Great Victory, on the ruins of destroyed monuments to the soldiers-victors. We see how the instincts of ancestors - Ukrainian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish punitive brigade members who threw our children, the elderly and women into the fire – are waking up. Therefore, we must and we will do everything to commemorate the feat of the generation of Soviet people who showed extraordinary courage and heroism. We need to make Khatyn a place of strength for the Belarusian people. This is our duty,” the head of state stressed.
In the Year of Peace and Creation, Belarusians say clearly and loudly: there is no justification for a policy of genocide, nothing is more important than human life.
“Once again I want to repeat to all of you and to those who will hear me: come here more often, bring your children with you, your own children, children of your neighbors, of other people. If we forget the road to Khatyn, everything will happen again. We must avoid it. Life is most precious,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
A revived church
In the territory of the memorial complex Aleksandr Lukashenko also visited a church, which represents a replica of the church that stood in Khatyn once and was destroyed during the Great Patriotic War. The head of state lit a candle in the temple.
A ceremony to consecrate the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was held several days before the anniversary. The Divine Liturgy was conducted by Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus Veniamin.
“The church is modeled on the one that stood here before. Certain work has been carried out with archives and photographs. We tried to recreate not only the external look of the church but also its interior. The main thing is that the church brings comfort to people and that this sorrowful place is sanctified by prayer,” Metropolitan Veniamin said.
Director of the Khatyn Memorial Complex Artur Zelsky told reporters: “People will be able to come and light a candle, think about eternal things, remember their loved ones and relatives who either died in that terrible war or just passed away. It is a place of light.”
The wooden church in Khatyn was built in the late 18th century. It was consecrated in November 1794. The church had a bell tower with three bells and an old cemetery. The bell tower and the church were carefully reconstructed according to the historical descriptions. The temple was reconstructed thanks to the inventory lists from the early 19th century and the description of Khatyn church from the late 18th century, kept in the National Historical Archives of Belarus.
STAY VIGILANT. Why do special services and the people have to demonstrate unity now?
During the visit to the memorial complex Aleksandr Lukashenko also talked to representatives of mass media and answered their questions.
In view of a recent attempt to commit an act of sabotage at the Machulishchi airfield and a recent elimination of a terrorist in Grodno the president urged people in Belarus to show unity and stay vigilant. “Attempts to carry out terrorist attacks in Belarus are something absolutely new for us. I cannot say we didn't expect them. We did expect them. I and the military did. But it seems unbelievable to us. What I would like is to see our people to get united somehow. People see everything. You just tell us in time (I always address the people with such a request) if you see a stranger that looks or behaves weird and the rest… Just give us a signal,” the head of state said.
“The unity of security, military and law enforcement agencies as well as our people is of crucial importance today. This will make our life easier in the future. I am not saying that we have to tell on others, to slander someone. No. We have to be very careful,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
GONE MAD. Why does the West painfully react to Xi Jinping's visit to Russia?
While talking to reporters in the WW2 memorial complex Khatyn on 22 March, Aleksandr Lukashenko explained why the West is enraged due to Xi Jinping's visit to Russia. The head of state said: “We are confident we are moving in the right direction. At least as far as Belarus and Russia are concerned. We are moving where doors are open for us. If a door is closed, why should we try to force it open? They will come to us. They are silently coming out of the woodwork to reach us, trade, and the rest. Europe already complains about America. While encouraging Europe [to enforce sanctions and sever ties], Americans trade with Russians very well and so on. It is business. And these lousy Western politicians create this situation with one hand and use the other hand to try to not only talk to us fraudulently but trade with us and develop economy. This is why we go where we are welcomed. We are doing the right thing. But they understood that they had done the wrong thing, too.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded about his previous meetings with high-ranking USA representatives during Donald Trump's presidency. Back then the head of state told them: “Are you totally crazy? Tell your president that they have done the best thing for us, for Russia, and for China by bringing us all together.”
“You [the West] simply bring us together. And they will not hold against this front. [The U.S. president's former national security advisor John] Bolton repeated it today. This is why they are enraged. They understood that they had done everything to unite the mighty resourceful, space and nuclear power of Russia with the equally mighty, full of human resources, future-oriented nuclear power of China. One can say it is already the world's top power. This is why they are enraged,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
DEPLETED URANIUM. About what did Aleksandr Lukashenko warn crazy people in Europe?
The question addressed to the head of state mentioned the UK's recent statements about the intention to supply Ukraine with depleted-uranium ammunition. A Russian reporter asked the head of state to comment on that. Aleksandr Lukashenko immediately responded to the question by saying: “I'll say that Russia will supply us with ammunition with ‘genuine' uranium.”
The Belarusian leader said: “If those people [in the West] are crazy, then they give a nudge to this process. It is the most dreadful and most dangerous thing. This is why it is necessary to slightly steer away from craziness.”
The president stressed that once this ammunition is used, Russia's response and the consequences will be terrible: “Once this ammunition blows up at positions of Russian troops, you will see that the response will be a terrible lesson for the entire planet. Russia has more than depleted uranium. You know it perfectly well.”
Dwelling on the topic of escalation on the part of the West, Aleksandr Lukashenko answered a question of representatives of Russian mass media, who wondered whether anyone has “brakes” over there. He said: “No. They don't have brakes.” The president recalled a recent statement by the Polish ambassador to Poland, who said his country will have to join the conflict with Russia if they are about to lose in Ukraine.
Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to Poland's lack of independence in decision making: “Poles do what Americans tell them to do. There are no elections over there. Poles are not dumb people. But who listens to them? Poland is such a totalitarian country. But over there, particularly Poland is a hyena of Europe. Then there are Lithuanians. They and Poles hate each other as well. You know why. So, Americans have brought them together. This belt has been created. They are getting ready to fight against us. Well, they may try.”
“The first question we will discuss with Putin is how we should put them in their place,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
In conclusion the head of state stressed that it is not a good idea to play some games now. “Belarusians and Russians have to take care of their own interests. So that our people will not die like they did in 1941, god forbid. Everyone tried to placate the Nazi so hard back then. They placated them so hard that the Nazi nearly reached Moscow several months later. This is why it is necessary to make the relevant conclusions from it.”
TALL TALES ABOUT SPIES. Why did Polish authorities take Belarusians as hostages?
Talking about the situation in the country after failed terrorist attacks, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that a number of operations in Belarus' territory are still in progress.
“They [the West] no longer have anything to respond with. You know, they arrested Ukrainians and Belarusians over there. And surprise! Those people work for Russia. Ukrainians, Belarusians, and the rest did. But nobody tries to prove anything. Nobody shows the people, who worked for Russia. They were just branded as spies. Everything is simple: they want to swap them. They grab people in order to suggest that Russia or Belarus should swap them for someone. They have already suggested it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The day before the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also stated that Polish authorities had yet to provide a single fact to confirm the three Belarusian citizens, who had been detained in Poland, had been involved in spying.
GENUINE OPTIMISM. What did Aleksandr Lukashenko say about Belarus' economic development?
While answering questions of reporters, Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “The first quarter of the year confirms my optimism that this year should be and will be at least as good as last year. If we live this year just like we did last year and if we hit performance targets set at a government meeting on top of that, we will live a normal life.”
The head of state stressed that Belarus had managed to survive in complicated conditions, including in the face of severe sanctions-fuelled pressure, because the country had preserved a solid manufacturing base inherited from the Soviet Union. In some areas Belarus has made a significant leap forward and has surpassed other countries. For instance, in microelectronics where positions of Belarusian enterprises are rather strong on the global scale. According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, he mentioned it in a phone call with President of Russia Vladimir Putin. “We have everything to allow aircraft to fly, tanks to drive, and rockets to fly into outer space,” the Belarusian leader shared details of the phone call. “I told him plainly: if we cannot make a phone, an iPhone today, we will buy one. But we have everything to allow tractors, electric vehicles, motorcycles, automobiles, missiles, combat vehicles, and aircraft to move.”
Belarus and Russia are now channeling additional financial resources into the development of the microelectronics industry. It will foster consequent technological advance in the economy sector.
“It is absolutely true that we have not fallen. You can feel it. Yes, people's lives vary… But we have not fallen and will not fall,” the president stated.
PEOPLE'S CHOICE. What does the president think about the election campaign of 2024?
Reporters asked the head of state about the political campaign, which will take place in Belarus in 2024 and about the state of the society in anticipation of this campaign. “In February 2024 we will have parliamentary elections, elections to all the councils of deputies on the single voting day. After some time we will transition to elections of delegates to the Belarusian People's Congress. As usual, after some time we will proceed to the presidential election campaign. We are getting ready from the point of view of ensuring public security. And the rest is up to you. People will make a decision, as they always do. If you decide that you need a different life, go ahead and give it a try,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The president is convinced that the recent developments had prompted Belarusians to look at many things differently. The head of state noted that Belarus has maintained peace and tranquility and this should be appreciated. “I don't want it to be like it is in Ukraine today. I have children, many of you have children. I would like children to have a normal life,” the president said.