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27 February 2023, 14:53

National security, people's militia, target practice in heavy snow. Intriguing President's Week

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 sometimes finds 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.

How Belarus improves approaches to national security, why the country needs people's militia, what countries Aleksandr Lukashenko intends to visit soon, why a dignitary from Abkhazia came to Minsk, who should listen to China's opinion, and who was promoted to generalship on Fatherland Defenders Day. The situation around Ukraine and tensions surrounding Transdniestria, Biden's trips, the war on air balloons, Poland's “director of the boom gate”, sanctions in sport, and a lot of other things are covered by the new episode of BelTA's special project President's Week.

LOVE OF PEACE, BUT NOT WILLINGNESS TO MAKE SACRIFICES. Why did Belarus need to update its National Security Concept?

The head of state began his work week with a session of the Security Council. Discussion about a draft updated National Security Concept was the central item on the agenda although the document adopted in 2010 has not lost its relevance as a whole. Moreover, the national security system built in accordance with the document's provisions has demonstrated its effectiveness, including during the period of the strongest external pressure on Belarus.

“The mechanism of the so-called political terrorism had been tested in many countries but failed here back in the day. And today we are responding quite adequately to another set of challenges facing us - provocations, sanctions, political ultimatums, and so on. Yet, all tests give us experience, first of all. And experience is a valuable material for working out a strategy of future development. Adapting the national security concept to today's realities is a completely logical and very timely step,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that elements of the Cold War - the arms race and nuclear blackmail by leaders of individual Western states - have returned to today's international agenda.

“There is an obvious resurgence of aggressive nationalism and extremism in various forms and manifestations. The ideology of neo-fascism is gaining ground. The risks associated with narcotic drugs, human trafficking, illegal migration, which are also used to achieve political goals, are not subsiding. The trend towards global cultural unification, including the trend towards unconventional behaviors, endangers the foundations of the nation state, i.e. our moral principles, centuries-old values, historical memory,” the president said.

This is happening against the backdrop of degeneration of the ecosystem, lack of resources, global climate change, growing pressure on the environment, a demographic crisis, and the danger of a new wave of various pandemics.

“All these threats did not emerge yesterday. The geopolitical interest in Belarus on the part of the Western hegemon has a history spanning more than one century. The technologies and methods of conducting hybrid wars are becoming increasingly sophisticated. And we must look even further and be ahead of the curve,” the Belarusian leader said.

He recalled that he had given the instruction to update the national security concept at the 6th Belarusian People's Congress.

Aleksandr Lukashenko raised several key matters before participants of the meeting. First, he wondered whether the continuity of the main principles of the government's policy in the sphere of national security has been ensured. The head of state's fundamental requirement remains the same: don't break it, improve it instead. Second, Aleksandr Lukashenko wondered how the draft document reflects the constitutional changes that had happened in the country. Third, he wanted to know how the concept reflects national interests.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also drew attention to the fact that, unlike a number of countries, including former Soviet nations where such documents are classified, Belarus decided not to hide anything. “You also know that this is my principled demand. We must clearly and openly declare our priorities, we must show the world the transparency of our policy, the reliability of Belarus as a responsible partner. But our partners must also know that Belarusian peacefulness is not synonymous to willingness to make sacrifices. As I have said more than once, response to any aggression will be fast, tough and adequate. Do the new provisions of the concept reflect this worldview of the Belarusians who have had enough of wars and revolutions?” the president asked.

Aleksandr Lukashenko once again told participants of the meeting that this document should be extremely sincere, open and comprehensible.

The approval of the national security concept, which is one of the most important documents for the country, will be one of the key responsibilities of the Belarusian People's Congress. “Therefore, the document should be ready for the meeting of the first convocation of its delegates who will act in their new constitutional status. In other words, we will submit this document for discussion and approval at the first meeting of the Belarusian People's Congress. If delegates of the Belarusian People's Congress uphold it, it will come into force,” the Belarusian leader said.

PEOPLE'S MILITIA. Who will join the ranks of volunteers in Belarus and why?

One of the documents submitted for consideration of the Security Council was the draft law “On people's militia”.

In order to avoid speculations on this topic, Aleksandr Lukashenko explained: “We have built an effective system of state defense. Its basis is the Armed Forces. It is they who accomplish the most important defense tasks that require the concentration of all the efforts of the state.”

The president pointed out that at the same time fight against crime, protection of public order and public security are the domain of the internal affairs bodies and internal troops both in peacetime and in wartime. Territorial troops have been created to ensure the smooth functioning of state bodies and organizations, economic facilities, infrastructure of Belarus in wartime. Other law enforcement agencies also take care of ensuring the defense of the state within their competence, the Belarusian leader noted.

“But the situation is not simple. I have already said more than once: every man (and not only a man) should know how to handle weapons. At least in order to protect their families, homes, hometowns and, if necessary, the country without which there will be no hometowns, no homes, nothing else. Many people understand this," Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

The president recalled that he had previously instructed the Defense Ministry together with the Internal Affairs Ministry to work out the issue of creating a people's militia. The relevant draft law has been prepared. Apart from that, the president had been previously informed that the organization of people's militia has been tested in practice: one of its main elements was created. This experience was also a topic for discussion at the meeting of the Security Council, including personnel numbers and actions of people's militia to fulfill the tasks assigned to it.

PERSIAN VECTOR. What does Belarus intend to achieve by advancing relations with Iran?

On 21 February Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Iran to Belarus Saeed Yari. Speaking about cooperation with Iran, the Belarusian head of state noted that the results could have been much bigger, but everything that has been done during the ambassador's term in office will pave the way for closer bilateral relations in the future. “Of course, as I've already said, we could have done more, but the situation in the world and around Iran and Belarus, fortunately, makes us get closer and look for those forms of cooperation that could benefit us the most,” the Belarusian leader said.

The president assessed the level of bilateral trade as normal, but noted that he would like to see it “more multifaceted”. “We need to transition from simple trade to manufacturing cooperation. We need to create joint production facilities in Iran and Belarus,” Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.

The Belarusian head of state also expressed interest in building the International North-South Transport Corridor, which is a joint project of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Iran. This project, in particular, was discussed at a meeting of the presidents of Belarus and Russia. “We have a huge interest in this project,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

“You see that our states and their leaderships are facing many tasks. I strongly hope that your further work, including in Tehran, will contribute to the expansion of our relations. I think that you will be personally interested in this,” the president told the outgoing ambassador of Iran.

“You know that I plan to visit Iran upon the invitation of the Iranian president in the near future, in mid-March. We will discuss essential matters of our relations then. I am absolutely convinced that this will be a significant meeting and that the negotiations in Iran will advance our cooperation to a higher level. But the main thing is to maintain this momentum and make the most of opportunities to upgrade our relations,” the Belarusian leader said.

KINDRED PEOPLE. What did Aleksandr Lukashenko discuss with the president of Abkhazia in Minsk?

Cooperation between Belarus and Abkhazia was discussed at the meeting between Aleksandr Lukashenko and President of Abkhazia Aslan Bzhaniya in Minsk on 21 February.

The head of state stressed that Belarus has always been interested in cooperation with Abkhazia. Cooperation was discussed among other things during the meeting of the Belarusian leader with Aslan Bzhaniya in Abkhazia in September 2022. “One thought keeps haunting me: why does the leadership of Georgia respond to our meetings so painfully? Can't people, nations have normal, cordial and friendly relations? Maybe, as I said then, these relations will be able to promote peace and friendship between Abkhazian and Georgian peoples. After all, you and I have never planned any action against Tbilisi,” the president of Belarus said.

He noted that he is keeping track of developments in Georgia, including the situation concerning former president Mikheil Saakashvili. “Somehow it doesn't look good because he once was a president after all. Therefore, it's simply inappropriate to go that far. But why am I saying this? We didn't give any assessments, we did not interfere in this situation and other developments. We have maintained very good relations with Tbilisi as best as we could. Why do they overreact? I think you too will help me find an answer to this question,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

As for cooperation with Abkhazia, the president stressed that the current meeting is very important in a human way. “Our relations must develop. The Abkhaz people respect the Belarusians. The Belarusians share a likewise attitude. We have something to build our relations on. There are products that we are interested in. Tourism holds a lot of promise too. Especially after they began to enforce various kinds of sanctions against us. Our people want to go to the seaside. So I looked at your coast. We used to holiday there. Sukhumi, Batumi, Tbilisi and so on. Our people still visit these cities. But somehow Abkhazia has been cut off. Not unpopular, but cut off. Meanwhile the demand is very high,” the president said.

“Why shouldn't we visit each other? I ask myself this question, I cannot understand why they need to aggravate the relations. On the contrary, we must stick together. We are not gigantic states to divide other countries and peoples. We need to be closer to each other in this complicated time. Tbilisi, and Sukhumi, and Minsk. Everyone should work to find ways towards each other, strive for each other. This is how I view your visit to Belarus and I thank you again for fulfilling your promise and visiting us,” the Belarusian leader added.

In turn, Aslan Bzhaniya thanked the Belarusian head of state for the invitation and consistency. “You know, many people will hear what you say today, including in Georgia, and I think that your wise words will reach the hearts of these people,” he said.

TRULY PEOPLE'S ARMY. What did Aleksandr Lukashenko wish to defenders of the Fatherland on 23 February?

Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko congratulated his compatriots on Fatherland Defenders Day and the 105th anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus on 23 February.

“Today the country is celebrating the feat of arms of the Great Patriotic War veterans, valor and steadfastness of peacekeeping soldiers, patriotism and selflessness of the military personnel of the modern Belarusian army,” the head of state said. “Over the years of independence we have built highly mobile armed forces, which are equipped with the latest technologies and are ready to respond efficiently to any challenges and threats. Our army has always been and remains a true people's army, a pillar of statehood, a guarantor of independence and security, a real school of courage for young people,” he added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed his conviction that the men in uniform would continue to stand firm for peace, protecting our dear home - the Republic of Belarus.

“I express my sincere gratitude to all those who have dedicated their lives to the great cause of serving the Fatherland and to those who, having paid their military duty, make our dear Motherland stronger and richer by their daily creative labor. I wish you all good health, happiness, wellbeing and every success in your hard military work for the benefit of your country and your people!” the message of greetings reads.

It is symbolical that on this day presidential decrees were signed to grant generalships and class ranks to a number of people. Colonel Andrei Gorbatenko and Colonel Vadim Shadur were promoted to the next military rank of Major-General. The rank of State Councilor of Justice, 3rd class was granted to Vitebsk Oblast Prosecutor Igor Ukrainets and Minsk Oblast Prosecutor Yuri Shchetko. Justice Colonel Anatoly Vasilyev was promoted to Justice Major-General while Police Colonels Dmitry Rezenkov and Oleg Shulyakovsky were granted the rank of Police Major-General. Deputy Chairmen of the State Customs Committee Eduard Danilovich and Andrei Bolshakov were granted a special rank of the State Councilor of the Customs Service, 3rd class.

Colonel Leonid Davidovich was appointed Deputy Commander of the Air Force and Air Defense Command of the Armed Forces of Belarus, Chief of Aviation.

CHINESE PLAN. Why is it important to listen to Beijing's opinion in the modern world?

On 23 February Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko gave an interview to Chinese media – the news agency Xinhua and China Media Group. The interview took place ahead of Aleksandr Lukashenko's state visit to the People's Republic of China on 28 February – 2 March. The visit will continue the long-term policy aimed at building relations of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with China.

During the interview the reporters were primarily interested in how Belarus-China relations are advancing in various spheres, in their history and prospects. Trade and economic interaction was discussed as well as significant joint projects, which are being implemented in Belarus' territory, including the China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone and the Belarusian National Biotechnology Corporation, as well as new opportunities within the framework of the Belt and Road initiative.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also answered a number of questions concerning global geopolitical processes going on in the world. The conflict in Ukraine, possibilities for its peaceful resolution were also in the center of attention.

All the details of the interview have yet to be published but a number of important statements by Aleksandr Lukashenko have already been released. Asked about China's role in the resolution of international problems, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that he evaluates it very simply: no problem in the world can be resolved without China nowadays. “China has become a global country with its own global policy,” he said.

In particular, the head of state mentioned Beijing's intention to make a statement about the conflict in Ukraine. “I'd like you to note that it is an unusual step in Chinese politics. The Chinese are scrupulous and careful. They don't meddle where they shouldn't. If they understand that it cannot produce the desired results, they won't take steps in this direction either,” he stressed. “It will be a serious voice in the name of peace in this region.”

By the way, the next day after the interview the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a plan on resolving the Ukrainian crisis. The document consists of 12 paragraphs.

“So, if China decided to voice its stance in this manner, from the mouth of the top government official Xi Jinping, it will have serious consequences. And if this message by the leader of China is not heard by those the message is addressed to, it will have serious consequences as well,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated. “I am convinced that this speech will be the crown of China's entire peace-loving policy. I am 100% convinced of that. It simply cannot be otherwise. It is an example of this peace-loving policy.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarus maintains the same stance: “Our way in Ukraine is the way of peace. The Chinese follow this path. I am 100% convinced that Russians are inclined towards ending this conflict. It is up to Americans – take concrete steps towards peace and there will be peace. China happened to be at the heart of this entire knot today. I once again advise to listen to what Xi Jinping will say about this conflict. In a most attentive manner because this statement by China is a new step, an original step, which will have serious consequences in the world.”

WAR ON BALLOONS. Why did Americans have to stage a show?

In the interview with the Chinese mass media the head of state made a few comments about the Chinese civilian air balloon, which had been shot down by Americans not so long ago.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “You understand the situation in the world perfectly well. China will not be allowed to live a calm life. China is the main rival of the United States of America. And Americans don't try to hide it. What makes me sad is that they stoop so low.”

The head of state explained he was referring to a Chinese civilian air balloon that had been shot down by Americans: “They had to put up a show in the American way. They kept winding up their society to make everyone see the danger of this Chinese object. And when 300 million American people were riveted to this object, they shot it down. What for? An election campaign is around the corner. They had to show off their heroism.”

“It is true that later on all the people came to realize that it was simply an unfriendly move against China on the part of the USA. The Chinese stated right away that it was an absolutely civilian balloon. The two countries could have worked together to find out what it was. But no! They had to ostentatiously destroy it. It was a very unfriendly step,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

Speaking about Joe Biden's recent visit to Kiev, the head of state noted that this visit and the balloon incident are part of the pattern. “Joe Biden's visit to Kiev is part of the pattern. It was a petty and indecent step,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked he appreciates Joe Biden as a president and his decision to visit Kiev: “Well done! He just up and went there. He either asked for Russia's permission or warned Russia. But nevertheless he went there.”

However, actions like this cannot be called original. A similar visit from the American side had already happened not so long before, Aleksandr Lukashenko hinted. “This is parroting, you see. It has already been done. Absolutely the same kind of visit. Why? Because of the presidential election. Joe Biden wants to get on a warhorse and ride into the election campaign. But it definitely won't work. It is not going to work. I know it well,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

UNAVOIDABLE CONFLICT. Why do prime causes of Russia's special military operation in Ukraine lie outside Russia?

In the interview with the Chinese mass media Aleksandr Lukashenko said he was confident that the conflict in Ukraine was inevitable and its primal causes are not in Russia. He said: “The Russian-Ukrainian conflict is one year old now. Yes, we talk about causes of this conflict but it is easier to see big things from afar as we like to say. Some time needs to pass in order to evaluate causes of this conflict. It is purely the Chinese style – one should never hurry. Time will come and we will dot every i. But I absolutely agree with President Putin, who says that primal causes are not in Russia.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled the bullying of Russian-speaking people, of the Russian language, multiple offenses offered to Russia's leadership. He also recalled statements made by the former leaders of Germany and France Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande. They admitted that they had exploited the Minsk agreements only to buy time for military preparations in Ukraine. “The cause is over there, in the years 2014-2015. The Minsk agreements were adopted here, in Minsk. Those were normal agreements and Ukraine signed these agreements. They should have followed this path. And I guarantee you that today Donbass would be Ukrainian and would be governed by Kiev. All kinds of rough edges would have been forgotten a long time ago. Masks are off, cards are on the table. That's the entire cause there is and the entire concept,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

He remarked that many people in Russia failed to comprehend actions of the country's leadership. “I always tell Russians: don't be hasty, time will come, and you will evaluate who is right and who is wrong,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked.

“Some people in Russia say: you know, Russia was a bit hasty to start this military operation. But I say it was inevitable. The conflict in Ukraine was inevitable. If Russia had not forestalled this war from the side of Ukraine (now it is understandable who was interested in this war and who started it), if Russia had not preempted Ukraine's actions and actions of the entire West from Ukraine's territory, consequences would be more severe,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF WAR. What are the essentials of Lukashenko's warnings against aggression against Belarus?

The matter was also touched upon during the interview with Chinese mass media. “Militarily, we stand ready to respond. We stand ready to give the toughest response. We have communicated this position not only to Ukraine, but also to the UK and the United States of America. I hope that I will have the opportunity to inform France (after all, it is a nuclear power) about our position. This is why we stand ready to defend the sovereignty and independence of our country. We don't want war. We want peace here. We want to live peacefully and cooperate with those who want to cooperate with us,” the head of state said.

The president stressed that the people of Belarus are very peace-loving. “We don't want any war. Moreover, the Ukrainians are our kin people. My ancestors were born in Ukraine somewhere between Chernigov and Kiev. It is part of my family history. Therefore, we have absolutely no intentions to attack Ukraine. But God forbid if aggression against the Belarusian state is committed from the territory of Ukraine. In this case we will be forced to respond. And I am sure that if it happens, we will receive support from the entire international community, including the People's Republic of China. If aggression is committed against us. We communicate this through various channels to Ukraine, including to the West. I've warned them that if the territory of Belarus is attacked from the territory of Ukraine, we will respond, but it will be a completely different war. It will instantly become a different kind of war. And we will resist and defend our land and fight against the aggressor, including together with the troops of the Russian Federation. Together,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“In recent days we have not spotted any significant military buildup in the territory of Poland, or Lithuania, or especially Ukraine that would look like preparations to drag us into the war. We positively assess this,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Speaking about the pressure of sanctions, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that it will not produce anything while mean tricks in the sphere of economy on the part of some neighboring countries represent a self-inflicted wound.

UNOFFICIAL CHAMPION. What trials did participants of the Minsk Ski Track have to go through, including the president?

On 25 February Aleksandr Lukashenko took part in the annual mass sports competition Minsk Ski Track 2023 in the national center for winter Olympic sports training Raubichi. The event featured biathlon relay races by different teams, including teams of supreme authorities, law enforcement, government bodies, and amateur teams. The president's team came in first in the biathlon relay race featuring teams of top government agencies.

The president's team included well-known Belarusian athletes Sergei Novikov, Lyudmila Kalinchik, and Olga Nazarova. This time the team of the Belarusian president competed “out of the competition”. One can say it was kind of a master class staged by prominent athletes and the president in order to demonstrate the importance of paying attention to physical education and sport, of leading a healthy lifestyle to all Belarusians.

This year participants of the Minsk Ski Track race had to demonstrate not only good physical fitness but strong will qualities, too. Complicated weather conditions, strong winds and sleet turning into rain represented a genuine test of will for the teams, a test of their eagerness to win.

The top three teams that won the official competition among teams of top government agencies included teams of the State Control Committee, the National Olympic Committee, and the Minsk City Executive Committee.

The skiers were actively supported by fans. The head of state talked to them briefly after the race. He warmly greeted the crowd, wished them peace and prosperity, to bring up children and engage them in sports.

After the president participated in the biathlon relay race, reporters asked him to share his impressions of the ski track and he said: “There is no better sport event in Belarus than our traditional amateur ski track. I advise you to try yourselves on skis here to get an understanding of the event. Especially in such weather conditions. Then you will understand what it is to ski on this track, when the snow is wet, when the skis don't slip, when they slow down, and, above all, you have to shoot.”

The head of state noted that it was one kind of weather at the start of the competition but then it started raining and snowing. “And skiing on fresh snow is the hardest thing to do. Yesterday I came here to see the track and it was snowing heavily. Today's weather is still bearable compared to the yesterday's one,” he said.

Speaking about the significance of such sport festivals, the president stressed: “People saw that it is important to do sports.”

“Everyone should go skiing and take their children with them,” the head of state said. “You ski and your child should follow you, should learn from you,” the president said and stressed that his sons go in for sports as well.

Speaking about the overall benefits of sport, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed: “It is healthy, it means people get sick less. You will care less about the pandemic, various viruses. And, in general, diseases will not bother you. Especially young women who need to give birth to three and more children.”

INFORMATION BIATHLON. How did Aleksandr Lukashenko hit all the targets while talking to reporters?

Aleksandr Lukashenko traditionally talks to reporters after participating in a Minsk Ski Track race. Such meetings are always an opportunity to get first-hand comments about the hottest topics and this time was no exception. Let's recall what the reporters asked the president.

Sanctions in sport

The head of state was asked to comment on the changed rhetoric of international sport organizations. For example, the International Olympic Committee and its president Thomas Bach are now saying that Belarusian and Russian athletes could take part in competitions under a neutral flag, including in the Olympics. However, a number of countries declare their intention to boycott such competitions in this case. “Neutral flags, other additional conditions. In your opinion, which of these is acceptable for us at all?” Aleksandr Lukashenko was asked.

“Not everything is unacceptable for us. But then again, watch it closely: the masks are off. The IOC, Bach said that we could compete. If we can, then make a decision! Why are you dragging this out? This gang got together… I don't want to speak rudely, they know who. And they begin discussing whether we can take part or not,” the Belarusian leader said. “Today it is not about symbols, flags or anthems. It is important. It is about the guys who have dedicated their lives to sport. They destroy people's lives. Bach himself is a great athlete. Doesn't he understand what it means to ban an athlete from competitions? And for no reason at all? Absolutely out of the blue. Are these athletes bandits or what? Did they fight in some war somewhere? Did they go outside and shout slogans like ‘Let's go to war', ‘Let's kill'? They didn't do that. What do they have to do with it?” the head of state said.

“There is just pressure coming from everywhere. The main goal is to choke us and Russia, so that we would never be able to speak up, so that we would not exist on this planet, so that our civilization would totally disappear. It will not happen! They are just wicked rascals! There is no other way to say it,” the head of state said.

Fake leaks about Belarus' absorption by Russia

Aleksandr Lukashenko commented on fake leaks concerning Russia's strategy towards Belarus and Belarus' alleged absorption by Russia by 2030. The Belarusian leader 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. “What other sovereign and independent state stands with Russia? No one else but Belarus. What else do you need?”

He stressed that the Russian president understands all these matters in exactly the same way. “He and I talked about these matters for a long time 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 the president, 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.

The president 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.

Bullying of Belarus' and Russia's representatives in international organizations

Aleksandr Lukashenko made a few comments about harassment and provocations against representatives of Belarus and Russia at international venues.

For example, at a recent session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly a Latvian MP insulted a Russian MP in totally not diplomatic terms. The Belarusian MP Andrei Savinykh also encountered provocations. Moreover, the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization is preparing another anti-Russian resolution. “Do we need such international venues and a dialogue with the West at all then?” the reporters asked the head of state.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “You know, we do. Due to yet another important reason. They expect us to leave [the international venues]. One should never do what one's enemy or adversary wants. It is an axiom. This is why we will not leave. They didn't offend us or Russians. They demonstrated their face one more time. Who did this Latvian or Lithuanian think he is? Who do you insult? You insult Russians and Belarusians, who saved you from the brown plague. You should have thought at least about that. But they don't think. What else can I say?”

“Let them scream and let them shout. We have to follow our own road, our own path. The dog may bark while the caravan has to keep moving. We should live and work according to this principle. We should not pay attention and should not even make comments. We have to show their impudence and idiocy. That's it. We need to do nothing else,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

Transdniestria and Ukraine's second front

While talking to the president, the reporters mentioned Transdniestria as another potential flash point in the region. Warnings about a possible provocation, about the concentration of hardware at the Ukrainian-Moldovan border have already been seen in the media space. The reporters wondered whether Aleksandr Lukashenko truly believes Ukraine would open the second front.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “I don't believe it. It is simply disadvantageous for them. The West would love to resolve the problem with Russia in one blow and close this grey hole, as they say, and unite Moldova, push it into Romania or make it pro-Western. It is their goal. Ukrainians don't need it. I don't believe that Ukrainians will go crazy and will open some second front.”

At the same time Russian military personnel, hardware, and weapons are present in Transdniestria. They can strike back if things go south and then there will be hell to pay, the president remarked.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that the West exploits the situation in Transdniestria in order to destabilize the situation in the region. “Everything should be undermined. It is in interests of the West. I don't believe Ukrainians need it. If they open the second front over there, it will be quite fatal.”

Traffic safety on Belarusian roads

When asked about two serious traffic accidents, which happened on Belarusian roads not so long ago, Aleksandr Lukashenko promised to sort out the training of drivers and the observance of traffic rules soon. The president said: “I am aware of it. We will soon analyze this topic. I am concerned about it, particularly about private bus companies. I gave instructions (a group is working, the state secretary is working with the Cabinet) to put together reports about what is really happening.”

The president pointed out it is important to observe traffic rules and driver training is the primary concern. “We have questions starting with driver training, the technical state [of vehicles] and ending with discipline on the roads. We will soon analyze these matters,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

The role of the Polish government as “director of the boom gate”

Aleksandr Lukashenko made a few comments in response to the Polish government's decision to restrict truck traffic via Belarusian border crossings. Speaking about the role of “the director of the boom gate” that the Polish government is trying on for size, reporters pointed out that these decisions had also affected shipping companies that deliver cargoes to Asia. Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Those crazy people don't even think when they make some step. Do you want to harm Russia? You should try, you have a border with Kaliningrad Oblast. Do you want to harm Belarus? You can harm it since we have a huge border a thousand kilometer long. But why do you cut off those, who feed you? Nowadays Kazakhstan supplies Europe with hydrocarbons and oil. Particularly after sanctions were introduced against hydrocarbon in Russia. Why did you cut them off? People lost jobs.”

Polish shipping companies also suffer due to these decisions. “We are not really bothered by it. We don't go there after all. We can drive to Poland or they can hook up a trailer in our territory and haul it. Poles, the European Union can bring a trailer to us, we take the trailer from them, and haul it further. We introduced this procedure a long time ago. We don't pat them on the back either. Why did they introduce it now? They want to demonstrate their significance before the patron who recently visited them [U.S. President Joe Biden visited Poland]. They had to demonstrate they are fighting on the side of Americans here and are ready for anything, ready to shoot themselves in the head. Just an idiotic move,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

It was noted that all of it is happening while Belarus invited all the citizens of Lithuania and Poland to visit the country without visas. It seems those governments were particularly irked by the fact that a large number of people started coming to Belarus.

“Poles and Lithuanians came to visit Belarus, saw our ‘dictatorship' and said they wanted the same. And wishes of the people of Lithuania and Poland do not coincide with wishes and actions of the authorities of Poland and Lithuania. It is the key. But people will sort things out,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. “One election after another will take place in their countries soon, too. We will see how democratically they will be organized. If they allow people to cast their votes [freely and democratically], the nations will sweep them away.”

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