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 guarantees does Belarus need from Russia? Why did Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu come to Minsk? Who wants to choke the Hi-Tech Park and what unconventional proposals did Aleksandr Lukashenko consider? What did he talk about with Zimbabwe's first lady? Why one billion is not enough in cooperation with Tatarstan?
A meeting with foreign judges and the ceremony to award Belarusian ones, who persevered in face of pressure and saved the country, and the president's meeting with compatriots in Shklov. What is necessary for preserving peace in the country? What does Aleksandr Lukashenko want most on Easter and many other details are in the new episode of BelTA's YouTube project President's Week.
BROTHERLY GUARANTEES. What does Belarus need from Russia in security matters?
On Monday, 10 April Aleksandr Lukashenko continued a series of meetings dedicated to Belarusian-Russian cooperation. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in the Belarusian capital as a follow-up to the recent agreements between the heads of state. “When parting with Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] after the latest negotiations we agreed that you and your experts will come to Belarus and we will sit down with you to discuss the security issues of Belarus. You know, I have already raised this issue at the Supreme State Council meeting. But before that, we discussed it with Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin],” the president said.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, Western countries do not comply with the agreements on security guarantees, which were given within the framework of the Budapest Memorandum in exchange for the withdrawal of nuclear weapons. “Sometime after 1994, the famous Budapest Memorandum, where all the Western powers and Russia swore to provide full security to Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus. You know, of course, that Western states have trampled all these treaties, agreements and statements and there is no security. It referred to economic security among other things. What kind of economic security is there if they impose sanctions against us, Russia?!” the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko raised the matter during negotiations with President of Russia Vladimir Putin in Moscow and received absolute support on all matters. Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “He [Vladimir Putin] said we needed to revise all our treaties and agreements – those of Belarus and Russia - to see what legal act of interstate nature should be adopted now to fully ensure the security of Belarus. In general, it was said at the talks that in case of aggression against Belarus the Russian Federation protects Belarus as its own territory. We need such [security] guarantees.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko once again stressed that the West had forgotten its obligations. “What security guarantees can the United States give us? None. Except for spurring aggression against us, as we see it now. We need full security guarantees from our brotherly Russia. So when parting with Putin, we discussed this issue once again. We agreed that you and your experts would come here today and we would discuss this issue in the context of the situation that is taking shape around us today, including the special military operation,” he said.
Belarusian-Russian regional military force
Another topic that Aleksandr Lukashenko discussed with Sergei Shoigu was the combat training and combat shakedown of the Belarusian-Russian regional military force, which also includes Russian military personnel in Belarus' territory. “I am grateful to you that despite all the difficulties you keep several thousand Russian servicemen deployed here. We have contributed as far as necessary. Together with your officers we are training these guys, arranging their combat shakedown. We train them as we should. We must keep our guard up. You can see that Poland, Lithuania are beginning to take action in our direction. Therefore, this is a good help and support for the Belarusian army, which defends the Union State on the western flank," the president added.
In turn, Sergei Shoigu confirmed that he had come to Belarus following the agreements of the two presidents. “I have the appropriate authority and instructions from our president, the supreme commander-in-chief. I would like to express special thanks to your Defense Ministry and to you personally. Five military training areas have been provided in Belarus' territory. They are well-equipped. Moreover, a sufficient number of instructors, officers of the Belarusian Armed Forces, are involved in training our military personnel. This group of forces is indeed quite a large one. Today we will consider all the matters related to its further stay and training here and, probably, the expansion of the framework that you and Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] have discussed,” the minister said.
SECOND WIND. How to respond to an attempt at economic stranglehold of the Hi-Tech Park?
On 11 April the president hosted a government conference to discuss the development of the Hi-Tech Park and Belarus' IT industry as a whole. Back in the day Aleksandr Lukashenko oversaw the creation of the Hi-Tech Park by offering a kind of an umbrella made of preferences to the IT industry. It allowed creating a successful and competitive analog of the USA's Silicon Valley in Belarus. While in the past Belarusian specialists focused on doing work primarily for large Western companies, now Aleksandr Lukashenko wants the IT industry to focus primarily on needs of the Belarusian economy and Belarusian manufacturers. Western sanctions or pressure are not the reason but common sense is. The state has invested a lot of time, strength and assets in the national IT project. As they say, now is the time to reap the benefits.
A serious task
“Last November we already discussed the work of our Hi-Tech Park, taking into account the current situation in Belarus. It is necessary to give a new impetus to the development of the industry, to provide the most favorable working conditions (we agreed on it). This should be done not only for HTP residents, but also for all domestic IT companies, in general, for all IT specialists,” the head of state stressed.
The president also set a goal to develop a product for the needs of the national economy and export. “The task is a difficult one. We, however, have not had easy tasks in the recent years,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“Today, our Hi-Tech Park, which has long been called ‘a paradise for programmers' and ‘the Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe', is being strangled economically. Such attempts are being made,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
In this regard, the president said that the country was ready to respond to the situation, draw conclusions and generate appropriate solutions: “We are used to such challenges and respond to them with dignity. If they do not want to see us in one part of the world, we, naturally, go to the other. I have received draft legal acts on the development of the Hi-Tech Park. The approaches they suggest are unconventional. But this sector almost always requires some creative solutions,” the Belarusian leader said.
The president stressed that this is about a new lease on life and the new horizons that were previously inaccessible for the park and the entire Belarusian IT industry. “We need to tap into new markets, replace Western investments with Asian ones,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “In general, a good product will always be in demand. It will be bought no matter what obstacles, fences and hindrances there may be.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko warned the government and the management of the Hi-Tech Park as well as other people responsible: “No one will be able to sit it out today. We need results. If there are no results, no explanations or conversations will be accepted as an excuse.”
In addition to overall IT topics the conference also touched upon trends in the development of artificial intelligence technologies and prospects of Belarusian companies in this rapidly growing and advanced field. Director of the Hi-Tech Park Administration Vsevolod Yanchevsky noted that there are plenty of companies in Belarus, including startups, which specialize in this sphere and have yet to prove themselves.
Describing the current state of affairs in the Hi-Tech Park, Vsevolod Yanchevsky stressed that despite multiple attempts to “bury” the park it continues operating and tens of thousands of programmers work in Belarus and new resident companies get registered in the park. In 2022 export by Hi-Tech Park companies was close to $2.5 billion while tax payments amounted to Br750 million.
Vsevolod Yanchevsky is convinced that Belarusian IT companies have experience of working in the harshest and most difficult conditions and have good prospects for successful work on new markets of Asian countries.
The ideas, which were discussed at the government conference, were formalized into Belarus president decree No.102 “On the development of the Hi-Tech Park” the next day. The decree is aimed at enabling conditions conducive to further promising development of the Hi-Tech Park through reliance on modern technological tendencies and essentially opens up a new page in the history of Belarus' information technologies industry.
The decree provides for setting up a managing company as part of the Hi-Tech Park. The managing company will focus on intensive strategic development of the Hi-Tech Park. It will represent the Hi-Tech Park during interaction with foreign partners and will assist the park's resident companies with expanding their export, penetrating new markets, and raising foreign investments. Meanwhile, all the business operation terms the Hi-Tech Park offers – legal framework, taxation, financial conditions – have not changed at all. The Supervisory Board of the Hi-Tech Park will retain its authority in full. A secretariat will be set up to facilitate its operation.
FIRST LADY. What matters did Aleksandr Lukashenko discuss with the wife of the Zimbabwean president?
First Lady of Zimbabwe Auxillia Mnangagwa stayed in Belarus for a week in furtherance of the agreements the heads of state had reached on cooperation in humanitarian affairs. Priority attention was paid to matters concerning maternity, childhood, healthcare, and baby food. Over the course of the week Auxillia Mnangagwa visited a number of enterprises and organizations of the Healthcare Ministry, OAO Bellakt in Grodno Oblast, met with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Belarusian Women's Union, and visited the WW2 memorial complex Khatyn. Results and prospects of cooperation were discussed at a meeting in the Palace of Independence.
“Dear Mrs. Mnangagwa, as we agreed with the president, you are in Belarus today on a very important visit. I am fulfilling the request of my friend President Emmerson to make the technologies Zimbabwe needs available to your country. We are ready to help you implement several projects at the request of your country and your president to build high-tech enterprises. First of all, in humanitarian affairs,” the head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa had asked for help in establishing a system similar to the Belarusian one in the area of maternity services, help for children, especially newborns, and child nutrition: “In short, women and children are the priority, and Emmerson told me this many times during my visit to your country.”
During the talks the two leaders emphasized the need for a very responsible person from Zimbabwe to oversee the implementation of the relevant programs. “Frankly speaking, I told him that this responsible person should be you,” the Belarusian leader said.
Desire and speed as the key
During her visit to Belarus Auxillia Mnangagwa got familiar with the opportunities available in the country. Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “The doors were open everywhere. So you are welcome to choose and decide, and we will start to act. Moreover, please tell Emmerson - he asked me to have talks in the Emirates and in Russia on the implementation of joint projects – that there was not a single refusal. These two countries he talked about are extremely interested in cooperation with African countries and especially with Zimbabwe,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The president stressed that Belarus has the technologies Zimbabwe needs. The main thing now is the willingness to work on joint projects and the speed of their implementation. “We need to do everything fast,” he said.
The meeting touched upon cooperation in various areas. Those are healthcare, agriculture, and mining. The quality of people's lives depends on each of them. Exchange programs and opportunities for Belarusian universities to train the Zimbabwean specialists Zimbabwe needs were also discussed. Because in addition to equipment and technologies the country also needs qualified specialists.
The first lady of Zimbabwe called for active contacts between business representatives of the two countries, mutual visits to explore the possibilities for cooperation and look for new partners. “Our country will benefit immensely from this because Belarus is a giant for us,” she said.
Absolutely like home
Auxillia Mnangagwa shared details of her meeting with Aleksandr Lukashenko with reporters. She stressed no topics had been off limits during the meeting. Auxillia Mnangagwa said: “We had a wonderful meeting with Mr. President. There were no closed topics between us. I felt absolutely at home. We discussed absolutely everything. I can see now that our cooperation will move forward. He [the Belarusian president] has one important thing that we have, too. He knows how and is willing to work hard.”
While in Belarus, she visited various healthcare institutions to learn about the Belarusian experience and technologies which can be later adopted in Zimbabwe. Auxillia Mnangagwa emphasized the attention the Belarusian head of state pays to the development of this area in Belarus: “I saw the care he takes for his country and his people. We saw how they take care of the children in hospitals. That is why I told him: Mr. President, let me tell you that you are not only a father - you are also a mother to your country.”
Auxillia Mnangagwa emphasized that Aleksandr Lukashenko's visit to Zimbabwe was truly historic. “People in our country still remember it. We were very happy to host the president of Belarus in Zimbabwe,” she said.
NEW OLD HOLIDAY. What calendar changes did the president authorize?
On 12 April Aleksandr Lukashenko signed decree No.105 to amend decree No.157 “On national holidays, festive days, and commemorative days in the Republic of Belarus” of 26 March 1998.
The name of the state holiday “Day of the State Emblem of the Republic of Belarus and the State Flag of the Republic of Belarus – second Sunday in May” was changed to “Day of the State Flag, the State Emblem, and the State Anthem of the Republic of Belarus – second Sunday in May”.
The new name will allow paying tribute to all the three state symbols of Belarus.
SO MUCH MORE. What untapped reserves does Aleksandr Lukashenko see in Belarus' cooperation with Russia's Tatarstan?
On 13 April the head of state continued the practice of regular meetings with heads of Russian regions. Head of Russia's Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov was warmly welcomed in the Palace of Independence.
By the way, the other day BelTA explained in detail why Aleksandr Lukashenko pays so much attention to building the bridges of cooperation and friendship with various regions of Russia. Not because of current problems in relations with the West as some might think. The president established the tradition back in the 1990s and the current circumstances only once again confirm its correctness, relevance, and strategic nature.
“You are true friends of the Belarusian people. I have been watching the development of your region for a long time. Successes are impressive and inspire us to work with Kazan more actively,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “Besides, we have very businesslike and productive relations. The potential of our relations is huge.”
A Belarusian delegation headed by Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko visited Tatarstan not so long ago. The parties defined specific areas of cooperation. Petrochemistry accounts for about 50% of trade between Minsk and Kazan today. “The growth of trade by more than 5%, up to $1 billion, in 2022 is not a bad figure. However, it does not fully reflect our capabilities,” the president said. “Petrochemistry is just one area of cooperation. We were right not to have restricted ourselves to petrochemistry when working out a cooperation plan,” he said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that the parties should expand the range of mutual supplies, manufacturing cooperation and joint ventures. The list of areas the parties can cooperate in is limitless. “If you have any interests, we will definitely work in this direction. We have tremendous opportunities,” the president said.
Focus on the manufacturing sector
"In cooperation with Russia we stake high hopes on the manufacturing sector. This is why the Russian president and I once again paid special attention to this during bilateral negotiations and a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State last week," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
According to him, the results of the joint work are already visible. The president cited the example of cooperation in the manufacturing sector with Tatarstan. In Kazan, there is a trade and production company MTZ-Tatarstan which has become a hub for many Belarusian enterprises. Minsk Motor Plant together with Tatarstan partners are designing modern gas engines. “It would be nice if you could help speed up their certification and launch their batch production,” the head of state said.
The Belarusian Industry Ministry and KamAZ agreed to advance cooperation in the production of various automotive parts, components, assemblies and microelectronics. “We just need to move faster. We need to speed up. Time forces us to accelerate,” the Belarusian leader said.
In 2021 alone Belarus and Russia imported $19 billion worth of automotive components for making transport vehicles and machines. The president stressed that it is a huge amount of money that the two countries should keep for themselves. “You and I can play the main role here,” he added.
Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled that plans are in place to launch about 15 projects in mechanical engineering within the framework of the Union State. Matters of their financing have been addressed. Belarus and Russia will jointly produce a wide range of goods: microcircuits, haul trucks, farm machines, and other vehicles and equipment. “We just need to buy time in this situation,” the head of state said.
Kazan Aviation Plant has resumed the mass production of the Tu-214 passenger aircraft. Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Belarus had retained the necessary competencies and production facilities and is ready to produce a number of parts for this aircraft. This matter was also discussed by the presidents of the two countries.
“Today we produce almost half a thousand parts for Russian aircraft,” the president said.
“Information technology and digital economy offer great opportunities. You know our capabilities. If we cooperate with you here, we will also get a good effect in the future,” he said.
The head of state mentioned a high level of humanitarian cooperation between Belarus and Tatarstan.
Let's get another billion!
Head of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov thanked the Belarusian head of state for the opportunity to meet and the hospitality. “We are sincerely glad to visit your beautiful country, the capital city,” he said and took a particular note of clean streets and in general discipline and high production standards at enterprises, in agriculture. “The beautiful fields and population centers always amaze me.” According to him, in this sense Belarus is a good, positive example for Tatarstan, which still has a lot to do. “There are still things we need to catch on,” he said.
The head of the Russian region expressed special gratitude to the presidents of Belarus and Russia for their support at the regional level.
“We always visit Minsk with great interest. We see how the country is developing, despite the unprecedented sanctions pressure of the West. A lot of positive changes are happening. This has an impact on the quality of people's lives. It is a huge merit of yours and of the government, their active work,” Rustam Minnikhanov emphasized.
Speaking about bilateral cooperation with Belarus, he noted that the agenda is packed. The delegation, which was visiting Belarus, included representatives of more than 20 companies. All in all, about 335 companies of Tatarstan have partners in Belarus. Over the past two years the trade has consistently exceeded $1 billion, but Belarus believes that it is time to step up and aim for $2 billion. “Our colleagues say: a billion is not enough. Roman Aleksandrovich [Golovchenko, Prime Minister of Belarus] urges to aim for the mark of $2 billion. I believe we should work on it,” Rustam Minnikhanov said.
MEETING WITH A TEACHER. Why did the president once again decide to play tennis?
On 13 April Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with President of the Russian Tennis Federation Shamil Tarpishchev. He led a Russian delegation to Minsk for an amateur tennis tournament. By the way, he also has roots in Tatarstan. So the meeting with Shamil Tarpishchev right after negotiations with the Tatarstan head on that day was quite symbolical.
“It's been a long time since we've seen each other, an eternity,” the head of state said as he greeted Shamil Tarpishchev, who once helped Aleksandr Lukashenko learn to play tennis. “This is my tennis teacher,” the president added.
“I only looked up to you. That is why I am a student,” Shamil Tarpishchev responded with a bit of false modesty.
“No, no, you taught Yeltsin how to play tennis, and taught me too,” the Belarusian leader said. “I used to play tennis pretty well at one time. But it is a very hard sport. It seems to me that it is the hardest one. It requires both strong mind and physical shape. It is also the most traumatic [sport]. But tennis is a very good thing.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko said that when he learned about his upcoming meeting with Shamil Tarpishchev, he decided to resume his tennis lessons: “When I saw our meeting in my schedule, I thought: I need to go to the court and start playing tennis. I am not going to be too active, but I will resume my game slowly.”
“Let others run,” the head of the Russian Tennis Federation joked.
He presented the Belarusian president with his book “Stress Makes Champions. Secrets of Psychology” about typical and sometimes unique examples of how a psychological state makes even a trained athlete give up winning positions or, conversely, successfully recover from a seemingly hopeless situation. “Fourteen critical examples are examined by a coach and a psychologist,” the author explained. Now he is writing a sequel since, as he said, the book sold out immediately. The president replied that he knew about the book and considered the topic chosen by the author to be relevant, interesting and important.
The head of the Russian Tennis Federation told reporters after the meeting that the conversation had covered the current state of affairs in tennis, both in terms of domestic competitions and in international arena. The parties also discussed support and development of children's and youth sports, readjustment of the competition and training camp calendars in view of the sport situation around Belarus and Russia. The emphasis was made on the friendly countries.
According to the head of the federation, it is very easy to talk to the president of Belarus about sports and reach mutual understanding because Aleksandr Lukashenko “is not only an outstanding person, he is also a good specialist in all kinds of sports, because he himself is a keen sportsman”.
THE BEST PEOPLE. What did Aleksandr Lukashenko discuss with heads of foreign courts?
On 14 April the Belarus president met with heads of foreign supreme courts. The delegations came to Minsk on the occasion of celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Belarus' Supreme Court. They included representatives of Russia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Aleksandr Lukashenko greeted the heads of the courts by saying: “I am a lucky man as I have a good opportunity to meet with the best people in the field of law. I know that no poor professionals are appointed to the leadership of the supreme courts. I am sincerely glad that you have found time for this event. We appreciate it very much.”
“Our countries cooperate closely in various areas, including within the international obligations under the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Union State of Belarus and Russia, and the Eurasian Economic Union. We actively develop our presence in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The life itself confirms the validity of the aspiration of the peoples of the former Soviet countries for closer cooperation. It is particularly relevant in the current difficult time,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The president stressed that the post-Soviet countries are united in their desire to ensure law and order in their states, to protect the interests of citizens.
At the meeting the head of state proposed to the CIS partners to transform the judicial systems in a coordinated manner. “Celebrations are a good thing but we still have a job to do. We can carry out many judicial reforms synchronously and in concert. Our country is always open to dialogue. We are closely watching you, your innovations. As we take certain steps in reforming our judicial system, we make sure we don't get ahead of ourselves and away from you. If it is necessary to do something at the state and interstate level for you, we are ready to support all your constructive proposals,” the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled that the countries had already taken the right step towards strengthening cooperation. On the initiative of the Supreme Court of Belarus, the CIS Council of Chairmen of the Supreme Courts has been established. The president is confident that this will allow coordinating approaches in the field of justice.
Construction without breaking
“Of particular interest is the exchange of experience in the field of judicial construction. After the collapse of the once unified judicial system, the new sovereign states had to create their own national models of judicial procedure. As you know, Belarus has taken the path of consistent improvement of the structure of the judiciary. We have not sought to break things. We are aware that we stand on the shoulders of giants: a lot has been done before us in judicial construction. We went this way of continuous improvements,” the head of state said.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, when reforming the judicial system in Belarus, all decisions were made deliberately and without copying of the unnecessary foreign experience. “We have carried out several stages of judicial and legal reforms. Judicial reforms are reflected in our Constitution. We know that you carry out judicial reform processes. We are interested in your achievements, and are ready to share our experience. By continuously improving the judicial system, we first tested everything at the level of laws and by-laws. And then, when we made sure that they work we formalized them in our Constitution,” the president added.
In turn, Chairman of the Supreme Court of Belarus Valentin Sukalo noted that the Council of Chairmen of the Supreme Courts of the CIS countries, which had been created on Belarus' initiative, started working in late 2022. “Today, when many norms of international law are being devalued, when international legal institutions are getting broken and destroyed, our communication within the framework of such a council seems very, very relevant. The main topics of interaction are the state of our judicial systems, ways and directions for their further development,” he said.
GREAT CAUSE. For what did Aleksandr Lukashenko thank judges?
On 14 April Aleksandr Lukashenko also bestowed government awards upon 12 judges of the Supreme Court. The solemn ceremony took place in the Palace of Independence on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Supreme Court's establishment.
In his words, the country's court system has undergone changes many times. “But global changes for the sake of enhancing it were prompted by the gaining of state sovereignty by our country. Many of the judges, who are present here, participated in this process of reformation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Results of “dictatorship”
Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that nothing had been broken in the course of improvement of Belarus' court system, it had been the main principle. “We remember that we stand on the shoulders of giants. And the legacy we've inherited from the Soviet justice system, what we invented and gained in the first few years of our sovereignty and independence we very calmly improved in the course of reforming our court system. It is not my accomplishment. It is first and foremost yours. You've always come forward with various innovations to the president and I've never turned them down. And in this manner we've gone through three stages of reformation of our system,” he said.
“Despite our ‘dictatorship' only 24,000 prisoners are left at present, down from 52,000 or 54,000 at the beginning of my presidency. That's all the dictatorship for you – the number of prisoners was halved in the period you and I have gone through. It means that without excessive humanization, as it is customary for you to say, we have made our country humane and our justice system humane,” the Belarusian leader stated.
Court system innovations
The president also remarked that in the course of reformation of the court system innovations had been initially introduced and tested as statutory and regulatory enactments. Once it was clear that the introduced innovations were positive, decisions were made to go ahead with “radical reformation of not even the court system but the government system in Belarus,” he remarked. The relevant amendments were introduced into the Constitution.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed: “Today the president doesn't have the authority he had before the Constitution was amended. You will be elected by representatives of the nation during the Belarusian People's Congress. And it is a very serious step. Am I worried about that? Yes, it is worrying a bit because the judicial branch of the government is important. But I am sure we can handle it. We are not the people we were 20-25 years ago. We will manage to do it.”
Judges saved the country
Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Events of the last few years became another serious trial of the tenacity and endurance of the entire court system. For the first time in modern history Belarusian courts faced unprecedented informational and psychological pressure. This pressure has not disappeared and still continues. The key purpose of all of it was to destabilize the operation of courts, introduce misbalance into the unity of the judicial staff.”
The president stressed that the judges who were present during the award ceremony had honorably endured these trials and had remained true to the law and the profession. “From the bottom of my heart I'd like to thank all of you and all the judges of Belarus for the patriotism, tenacity, and resilience you have demonstrated,” he said. “In 2020 we perceived those events differently. I assumed that some time would pass and while evaluating, reassessing those events, we would make sure that we did the right thing. Remember: you defended your country. And you and I saved that country.”
According to the president, judges played a special role in preserving the country. “I do not remember a single case where the judicial system collapsed, where it failed the country, where it did not stand shoulder to shoulder with those who fought for the future of our Belarus. If we had flinched then, we would have been worse off today than Ukraine. This is why remember this,” the Belarusian leader said.
“You have done a great job,” the head of state stressed. “If you do not do anything in the years to come after that (you still have a long way to go), you still have already done a lot for the country. Thank you so much for all this. We will not be ashamed to look people and our children in the eye. Thank you."
BRIGHT HOLIDAY. Why did Aleksandr Lukashenko decide to celebrate Easter with fellow countrymen in Shklov?
On 16 April, on Easter the president lit a candle in the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Shklov.
“Today is a special day for me. Either returning from a long business trip or coming here, I always look at this land with great love,” the president said, speaking of his small motherland. “You are special people to me, you know that. This all began with you, your parents. First of all, for me. Once, you put your trust in me, a very young man, and sent me off on a long journey.”
“I want to tell young people (I didn't realize it at the time) that you become very homesick with time. Sooner or later, we all come home. I am always excited to visit this place. As you noticed, I rarely stayed in Shklov. Maybe it was because of these strong feelings that were affecting me. But there comes a time when you are especially drawn home, your hometown. They say if you often dream about something, you have to go there. This is why I have come to you, my dear good people,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked his fellow countrymen for the trust they put in him many years ago, for the things they did for him in his life. “I will not say it was dolce vita. But we have what we have,” he said.
About the value of all holidays and about peculiarities of Easter
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Easter is a holy and kind holiday, filled with special expectations, just like the New Year. “All our holidays, both religious and secular, are very precious to us, to our people. Well, who can say that Victory Day is not a dear holiday for us?” the Belarusian leader noted.
As for Easter, on this day the head of state said he just wants a peaceful life, to say nothing and listen to silence. “I feel this way. I guess, so do many people. Although after a long fast, people get ready to have a feast with wine, Easter cakes and other numerous treats. We all have them. But still it is a very special day for everyone!” he said.
“Here, from this old temple I want to congratulate our Belarusians, everyone who will see us today. Once again, I would like to thank you and congratulate you on this holiday. I wish you peace and health. These are the most important things,” the Belarusian leader said.
The construction of the Transfiguration Church in Shklov began at the end of the 18th century by Semyon Zorich, a favorite of Russian Empress Catherine II, and was completed in the second half of the 19th century thanks to the financial assistances of the local resident, devout Christian Agafia Sidorova, who is considered the founder of this church. The temple remained active during the years of atheism and the Great Patriotic War. 2014 marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of the temple.
Everything will be normal tomorrow!
Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced the country will be able to preserve peace. “I wish you peace and health. We will find everything else. If we don't find it, as I often say, we'll buy it. You can't buy health. You see what is happening around you and it costs us tremendous efforts to preserve peace in our land. If all of us do our jobs, we will preserve peace. We will do the impossible. In this situation, we will preserve peace on this land, at a time when things around us are changing at an astounding pace,” the head of state said.
“Many, being uncertain, are not planning their long-term future, as they do not understand what will happen tomorrow. Everything will be fine tomorrow. Be sure of it,” the Belarusian leader assured.
He wished all peace, calm, happiness, and most importantly, health, especially to children.
Aleksandr Lukashenko presented the Lord Almighty Icon to the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior. This icon is one of the most ancient and revered images of the Savior. “It is precious for me because it was made by the hands of a Belarusian,” the head of state said.
In turn, the president got the Resurrection of Christ Icon as a present from the church. It is made in the technique of miniature enamel painting.