kids encyclopedia robot

Alexander Lukashenko facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Alexander Lukashenko
Александр Лукашенко
Аляксандр Лукашэнка
Aljaksandar Łukašenka
Alexander Lukashenko 2022 (cropped).jpg
Lukashenko in 2022
1st President of Belarus
Assumed office
20 July 1994
Disputed since 23 September 2020
Prime Minister
Preceded by Myechyslaw Hryb
(as head of state and Chairman of the Supreme Council)
Chairman of the Supreme State Council
of the Union State
Assumed office
26 January 2000
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
General Secretary
  • Pavel Borodin
  • Grigory Rapota
  • Dmitry Mezentsev
Preceded by Office established
Member of the Supreme Council of Belarus
In office
25 August 1991 – 20 July 1994
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Office abolished
Personal details
Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko

(1954-08-30) 30 August 1954 (age 69)
Kopys, Byelorussian SSR, Soviet Union (now Kopys, Belarus)
Political party Independent (1992–present)
Other political
Galina Zhelnerovich
(m. 1975)
  • Viktor
  • Dmitry
  • Nikolai
Occupation Politician
Profession Economist and Collective Farmer
Military service
Years of service
  • 1975–1977
  • 1980–1982
  • 1994–present
Rank Commander-in-Chief
Lieutenant colonel

Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko (as transliterated from Russian; also transliterated from Belarusian as Alyaksand(a)r Ryhoravich Lukashenka; born 30 August 1954) is a Belarusian politician who has been the first and only president of Belarus since the establishment of the office on 20 July 1994, making him the longest-sitting European president.

Early life, family and education

Lukashenko was born on 30 August 1954 in the settlement of Kopys in the Vitebsk Oblast of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Starting with an interview given in 2009 Lukashenko has said that his actual birthday is 31 August, the same as his son's Nikolai's. This caused some confusion as all official sources had said 30 August 1954 up until then. An explanation was later given that his mother had entered the hospital on the 30 August in labor but not given birth until after midnight.

His maternal grandfather, Trokhym Ivanovich Lukashenko, had been born in the Sumy Oblast of Ukraine near Shostka (today village of Sobycheve). Lukashenko grew up without a father in his childhood, leading him to be taunted by his schoolmates for having an unmarried mother. Due to this, the origin of his patronymic Grigorevich is unknown and there are various rumors about who Lukashenko's father might have been with the most popular version being that he was a Roma passing through the region. His mother, Ekaterina Trofimovna Lukashenko (1924–2015), gave birth to another son, Alexander's older brother who died. Ekaterina worked unskilled jobs on a railway, at a construction site, at a flax factory in Orsha and finally as a milkmaid in Alexandria, a small village in the east of Belarus, close to the Russian border.

Lukashenko went to Alexandria secondary school. He graduated from the Mogilev Pedagogical Institute (now Mogilev State A. Kuleshov University) in 1975, after 4 years studying there and the Belarusian Agricultural Academy in Horki in 1985.

Military and early politics career

In 1979, Lukashenko joined the ranks of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of Byelorussia. After leaving the military, he became the deputy chairman of a collective farm in 1982 and in 1985, he was promoted to the post of director of the Gorodets state farm and construction materials plant in the Shklow district. In 1987, he was appointed as the director of the Gorodets state farm in Shklow district and in early 1988, was one of the first in Mogilev Region to introduce a leasing contract to a state farm.

In 1990, Lukashenko was elected Deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the Byelorussian SSR. Having acquired a reputation as an eloquent opponent of corruption, Lukashenko was elected in April 1993 to serve as the interim chairman of the anti-corruption committee of the Belarusian parliament. In late 1993 he accused 70 senior government officials, including the Supreme Soviet chairman Stanislav Shushkevich and prime minister Vyacheslav Kebich, of corruption including stealing state funds for personal purposes. While the charges ultimately proved to be without merit, Shushkevich resigned his chairmanship due to the embarrassment of this series of events and losing a vote of no-confidence. He served in that position until July 1994.


First term (1994–2001)

The hunger strike of deputies to the Supreme Council building, Belarus, 1995
The 1995 hunger strike of deputies in the Supreme Council building.

A new Belarusian constitution enacted in early 1994 paved the way for the first democratic presidential election on 23 June and 10 July. Six candidates stood in the first round, including Lukashenko, who campaigned as an independent on a populist platform. In an interview with The New York Times, he declared: "I am neither with the leftists nor the rightists. But with the people against those who rob and deceive them". Stanislav Shushkevich and Vyacheslav Kebich also ran, with the latter regarded as the clear favorite. Lukashenko won 45.1% of the vote while Kebich received 17.4%, Zianon Pazniak received 12.9% and Shushkevich, along with two other candidates, received less than 10% of votes.

Lukashenko won the second round of the election on 10 July with 80.1% of the vote. Shortly after his inauguration, he addressed the State Duma of the Russian Federation in Moscow proposing a new Union of Slavic states, which would culminate in the creation of the Union of Russia and Belarus in 1999.

1996. Stamp of Belarus 0205
President Lukashenko on a postage stamp from 1996

In February 1995, Lukashenko announced his intention to hold a referendum. For the young democratic republic this raised the controversial issue of the Russification of Belarus. Lukashenko said he would press ahead with the referendum regardless of opposition in the Supreme Council and threatened to suspend its activities if it did not agree to hold the referendum. On 11 April 1995, a vote was held in parliament on calling a referendum on four issues proposed by Lukashenko: 1) granting Russian the status of a state language, 2) changing state symbols, 3) on economic integration with Russia and 4) on giving the president the right to dissolve parliament. The deputies rejected all issues, except for the issue of economic integration with Russia. It is unclear whether the president had legal power independently to call referendums, and if so, if they would be binding. Lukashenko stated that the referendum would be held despite the rejection by the deputies.

In protest, 19 out of a total of 238 deputies of the Belarusian Popular Front led by Zianon Pazniak and the Belarusian Social Democratic Assembly led by Oleg Trusov (b. Алег Анатолевіч Трусаў) began a hunger strike in the parliamentary meeting room and stayed there overnight on the night of 11–12 April. At night, under the pretext of a bomb threat, unidentified law enforcement personnel attacked and forcibly expelled the deputies. Lukashenko stated that he personally ordered the evacuation for security purposes. The Supreme Council accepted to hold the referendum on 13 April and in May 1995, Belarusian authorities held a referendum on the four issues. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly found neither the referendum nor the 1995 Belarusian parliamentary election which took place in the same month to have met conditions for free and fair elections.

RIAN archive 141088 Signing Treaty on Establishing Russian-Belarusian Union
Official ceremony of signing Treaty on Establishing Russian-Belarusian Union at the Kremlin Palace, between the Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Belarusian President Lukashenko, 1997.

In the summer of 1996, deputies of the 199-member Belarusian parliament signed a petition to impeach Lukashenko on charges of violating the Constitution. Shortly after that, a referendum was held on 24 November 1996 in which four questions were offered by Lukashenko and three offered by a group of Parliament members. The questions ranged from social issues (changing the independence day to 3 July (the date of the liberation of Minsk from Nazi forces in 1944), abolition of the death penalty) to the national constitution. As a result of the referendum, the constitution that was amended by Lukashenko was accepted and the one amended by the Supreme Council was voided. On 25 November, it was announced that 70.5% of voters, of an 84% turnout, had approved the amended constitution. The US and the EU, however, refused to accept the legitimacy of the referendum.

After the referendum, Lukashenko convened a new parliamentary assembly from those members of the parliament who were loyal to him. After between ten and twelve deputies withdrew their signature from the impeachment petition, only about forty deputies of the old parliament were left and the Supreme Council was dismissed by Lukashenko. Nevertheless, international organizations and many Western countries do not recognize the current parliament given the way it was formed. Lukashenko was elected chairman of the Belarusian Olympic Committee in 1997. At the start of 1998, the Central Bank of Russia suspended trading in the Belarusian rubel, which led to a collapse in the value of the currency. Lukashenko responded by taking control of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus, sacking the entire bank leadership and blaming the West for the free fall of the currency.

Vladimir Putin 25 July 2001-5
Alexander Lukashenko standing with Vladimir Putin and Leonid Kuchma at the Slavic Bazaar in Vitebsk in 2001

Lukashenko blamed foreign governments for conspiring against him and, in April 1998, expelled ambassadors from the Drazdy complex near Minsk and moved them to another building. The Drazdy conflict caused an international outcry and resulted in a travel ban on Lukashenko from the EU and the US. Although the ambassadors eventually returned after the controversy died down, Lukashenko stepped up his rhetorical attacks against the West. He stated that Western governments were trying to undermine Belarus at all levels, even sports, during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

Upon the outbreak of the Kosovo War in 1999, Lukashenko suggested to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević that Yugoslavia join the Union of Russia and Belarus.

Second term (2001–2006)

Under the original constitution, Lukashenko should have been up for reelection in 1999. However, the 1996 referendum extended Lukashenko's term for two additional years. In the 9 September 2001 election, Lukashenko faced Vladimir Goncharik and Sergei Gaidukevich. During the campaign, Lukashenko promised to raise the standards of farming, social benefits and increase industrial output of Belarus. Lukashenko won in the first round with 75.65% of the vote. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the process "failed to meet international standards".

Ali Khamenei met with Belarusian President Lukashenko (2006 11 06) 07
Meeting of Alexander Lukashenko with Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei and president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2006

Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, American intelligence agencies reported that aides of Saddam Hussein managed to acquire Belarusian passports while in Syria, but that it was unlikely that Belarus would offer a safe haven for Saddam and his two sons. This action, along with arms deals with Iraq and Iran, prompted Western governments to take a tougher stance against Lukashenko. The US was particularly angered by the arms sales, and American political leaders increasingly began to refer to Belarus as "Europe's last dictatorship". The EU was concerned for the security of its gas supplies from Russia, which are piped through Belarus, and took an active interest in Belarusian affairs. With the accession of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, the EU's border with Belarus has grown to more than 1000 kilometers.

During a televised address to the nation on 7 September 2004, Lukashenko announced plans for a referendum to eliminate presidential term limits. This was held on 17 October 2004, the same day as parliamentary elections, and, according to official results, was approved by 79.42% of voters. Previously, Lukashenko had been limited to two terms and thus would have been constitutionally required to step down after the presidential elections in 2006. Opposition groups, the OSCE, the European Union, and the US State Department stated that the vote fell short of international standards. Belarus grew economically under Lukashenko, but much of this growth was due to Russian crude oil which was imported at below-market prices, refined, and sold to other European countries at a profit.

Third term (2006–2010)

Lukashenko and Medvedev December 2008
Lukashenko with Dmitry Medvedev in the Kremlin, December 2008

After Lukashenko confirmed he was running for re-election in 2005, opposition groups began to seek a single candidate. On 16 October 2005, on the Day of Solidarity with Belarus, the political groups Zubr and Third Way Belarus encouraged all opposition parties to rally behind one candidate to oppose Lukashenko in the 2006 election. Their chosen candidate was Alexander Milinkevich. Lukashenko reacted by saying that anyone going to opposition protests would have their necks wrung "as one might a duck". On 19 March 2006, exit polls showed Lukashenko winning a third term in a landslide, amid opposition reports of vote-rigging and fear of violence. The Belarusian Republican Youth Union gave Lukashenko 84.2% and Milinkevich 3.1%. The Gallup Organisation noted that the Belarusian Republican Youth Union are government-controlled and released the exit poll results before noon on election day even though voting stations did not close until 8 pm.

Belarusian authorities vowed to prevent any large-scale demonstrations following the election (such as those that marked the Orange Revolution in Ukraine). Despite their efforts, the opposition had the largest number of demonstrators in years, with nightly protests in Minsk continuing for a number of days after the election. The largest protest occurred on election night; reporters for the Associated Press estimated that approximately 10,000 people turned out. Election observers from the Russia-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) differed on the Belarusian election.

Dmitry Medvedev 29 September 2009-3
Dmitry Medvedev and Alexander Lukashenko observed the final phase of the Zapad-2009 strategic exercises that took place in Baranavichy, Belarus.

The OSCE declared on 20 March 2006 that the "presidential election failed to meet OSCE commitments for democratic elections." Lukashenko "permitted State authority to be used in a manner which did not allow citizens to freely and fairly express their will at the ballot box... a pattern of intimidation and the suppression of independent voices... was evident throughout the campaign." The heads of all 25 EU countries declared that the election was "fundamentally flawed". In contrast, the Russian minister of foreign affairs declared, "Long before the elections, the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights had declared that they [the elections] would be illegitimate and it was pretty biased in its commentaries on their progress and results, thus playing an instigating role." Lukashenko later stated that he had rigged the election results, but against himself, in order to obtain a majority more typical of European countries. Although he had won 93.5% of the vote, he said, he had directed the government to announce a result of 86%.

Some Russian nationalists, such as Dmitry Rogozin and the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, stated that they would like to see Lukashenko become President of Russia in 2008. Lukashenko responded that he would not run for the Russian presidency, but that if his health was still good, he might run for reelection in 2011.

In September 2008, parliamentary elections were held. Lukashenko had allowed some opposition candidates to stand, though in the official results, opposition members failed to get any of the 110 available seats. OSCE observers described the vote as "flawed", including "several cases of deliberate falsification of results". Opposition members and supporters demonstrated in protest. According to the Nizhny Novgorod-based CIS election observation mission, the findings of which are often dismissed by the West, the elections in Belarus conformed to international standards. Lukashenko later commented that the opposition in Belarus was financed by foreign countries and was not needed.

In April 2009, he held talks with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican, Lukashenko's first visit to Western Europe after a travel ban on him a decade earlier.

Fourth term (2010–2015)

Zapad-2013 strategic military exercises (2101-03)
Lukashenko and Putin at the Russian-Belarusian strategic military exercises in 2013

Lukashenko was one of ten candidates registered for the presidential election held in Belarus on 19 December 2010. Though originally envisaged for 2011, an earlier date was approved "to ensure the maximum participation of citizens in the electoral campaign and to set most convenient time for the voters". The run-up to the campaign was marked by a series of Russian media attacks on Lukashenko. The Central Election Committee said that all nine opposition figures were likely to get less than half the vote total that Lukashenko would get. Though opposition figures alleged intimidation and that "dirty tricks" were being played, the election was seen as comparatively open as a result of desire to improve relations with both Europe and the US.

On election day, two presidential candidates were seriously beaten by police in different opposition rallies. On the night of the election, opposition protesters chanting "Out!", "Long live Belarus!" and other similar slogans attempted to storm the building of the government of Belarus, smashing windows and doors before riot police were able to push them back. The number of protesters was reported by major news media as being around or above 10,000 people. At least seven of the opposition presidential candidates were arrested.

Several of the opposition candidates, along with their supporters and members of the media, were arrested. Many were sent to prison, often on charges of organizing a mass disturbance. Examples include Andrei Sannikov, Alexander Otroschenkov, Ales Michalevic, Mikola Statkevich, and Uladzimir Nyaklyayew. Sannikov's wife, journalist Irina Khalip, was put under house arrest. Yaraslau Ramanchuk's party leader, Anatoly Lebedko, was also arrested.

Alexander Lukashenko, opening of Slavianski Bazar 2014
Lukashenko giving a speech in 2014

The CEC said that Lukashenko won 79.65% of the vote (he gained 5,130,557 votes) with 90.65% of the electorate voting. The OSCE categorized the elections as "flawed" while the CIS mission observers praised them as "free and transparent". However, the OSCE also stated that some improvements were made in the run-up to the election, including the candidates' use of television debates and ability to deliver their messages unhindered. Several European foreign ministers issued a joint statement calling the election and its aftermath an "unfortunate step backwards in the development of democratic governance and respect for human rights in Belarus."

Lukashenko's inauguration ceremony of 22 January 2011 was boycotted by EU ambassadors, and only thirty-two foreign diplomats attended. During this ceremony, Lukashenko defended the legitimacy of his re-election and vowed that Belarus would never have its own version of the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine or Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution.

Effective 31 January 2011, the EU renewed a travel ban, prohibiting Lukashenko and 156 of his associates from traveling to EU member countries, as a result of the crackdown on opposition supporters.

Lukashenko was supportive of China's Belt and Road Initiative global infrastructure development strategy, and the inception in 2012 of the associated low-tax China–Belarus Industrial Park near Minsk National Airport planned to grow to 112 square kilometres (43 sq mi) by the 2060s.

Fifth term (2015–2020)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a bilateral meeting with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko
Lukashenko during a bilateral meeting with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in 2016
Meeting of CIS Council of Heads of State (2016-09-16) 03
Meeting of CIS leaders in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, September 2016

On 11 October 2015, Lukashenko was elected for his fifth term as the president of Belarus. Just over three weeks later, he was inaugurated in the Independence Palace in the presence of attendees such as former president of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, Chairman of the Russian Communist Party Gennady Zyuganov and Belarusian biathlete Darya Domracheva. On mid-September 2017, Lukashenko oversaw the advancement of joint Russian and Belarusian military relations during the military drills that were part of the Zapad 2017 exercise.

In August 2018, Lukashenko fired his prime minister Andrei Kobyakov and various other officials due to a corruption scandal. Sergei Rumas was appointed to take his place as prime minister. In May 2017, Lukashenko signed a decree on the Foundation of the Directorate of the 2019 European Games in Minsk.

In April 2019, Lukashenko announced that the games were on budget and on time and eventually he opened the 2nd edition of the event on 21 June. Between 1–3 July 2019, he oversaw the country's celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the Minsk Offensive, which culminated in an evening military parade of the Armed Forces of Belarus on the last day, which is the country's Independence Day.

Lukashenko and Zelenskyi (Oct 2019)
Volodymyr Zelensky shaking hands with Lukashenko in Zhytomyr, October 2019.

In August 2019, Lukashenko met with former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who has lived in exile in Minsk since 2010, in the Palace of Independence to mark Bakiyev's 70th birthday, which he had marked several days earlier. The meeting, which included the presentation of traditional flowers and symbolic gifts, angered the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry which stated that the meeting "fundamentally does not meet the principles of friendship and cooperation between the two countries". In November 2019, Lukashenko visited the Austrian capital of Vienna on a state visit, which was his first in three years to an EU country. During the visit, he met with President Alexander Van der Bellen, Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein, and National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka. He also paid his respects at the Soviet War Memorial at the Schwarzenbergplatz.

During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, he undertook two working visits to Russia, one of the few European leaders to undertake foreign visits during the pandemic. He also received Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán during his state visit to Minsk. Orbán called for an end to EU sanctions on Belarus during this visit. His first visit to Russia was to attend the rescheduled Moscow Victory Day Parade on Red Square together with his son.

Sixth term (2020–present)

On 9 August 2020, according to the preliminary count, Lukashenko was re-elected for his sixth term as the President of Belarus. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the election was "not free [or] fair".

Mass protests erupted across Belarus following the 2020 Belarusian presidential election which was marred by allegations of widespread electoral fraud. Subsequently, opposition presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya claimed she had received between 60 and 70% of the vote and formed a Coordination council to facilitate the peaceful and orderly transfer of power in Belarus.

On 17 August 2020, the members of the European Parliament issued a joint statement which stated that they do not recognise Alexander Lukashenko as the president of Belarus, considering him to be persona non grata in the European Union. On 19 August, the member states of the European Union agreed to not recognise the results and issued a statement saying "The 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results". The governments of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have also refused to recognise the results. In an interview on 22 August, Josep Borrell explicitly stated that the European Union does not recognise Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus in the same manner that it does not recognise Nicolás Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

Meeting of Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko 02 (22-02-2021)
Lukashenko and Putin in February 2021

On 23 September 2020, Lukashenko was formally inaugurated president for a sixth term in a ceremony at the Palace of Independence attended by an invited group of 700 guests.

On 27 November 2020, Lukashenko announced that he would resign once Belarus' new constitution was adopted.

In December, the executive board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to exclude until further notice all members of the Belarusian Olympic Committee from all IOC events, specifically targeting Lukashenko who was elected as its chairman in 1997.

On 17 April 2021, Russia's FSB security service exposed an alleged military coup and assassination attempt of Lukashenko. Two suspects, who were detained at Lukashenko's request, were Alexander Feduta [ru; be] and Yuri Zenkovich [ru; be]. Both are critics of Lukashenko, with the latter being a dual American-Belarusian citizen, despite Belarus not recognizing dual citizenship.

On 24 April 2021, Lukashenko announced that he would sign a decree to amend emergency transfer of power. "I will sign a decree about how the power in Belarus will be set up. If the President is shot the security council will get the power." Lukashenko is the head of the Security Council himself; however, his eldest son, Victor Lukashenko, is regarded as its informal leader. Under current law, the prime minister assumes the presidential powers if the presidency becomes vacant, but Lukashenko said that the prime minister will only become the nominal leader and all decisions would be taken by the 20-person security council, by secret ballot.

The president is yet to sign the decree and it would also be unconstitutional as Article 89 states how emergency transition of power is set up. This move was seen to empower his son, to be in the perfect position to succeed him in the next elections, to also prevent the opposition gaining power and as insurance against a "bad" prime minister. It is to note that all Security Council members are Lukashenko's most loyal allies.

On 5 May 2021, Belarusians in Germany filed a legal complaint against Lukashenko for 'crimes against humanity.' If he enters Germany he risks trial or if convicted and enters Germany faces punishment given by court. Lukashenko responded that Germany was not in a position to criticize him, referring to the German Government as the "Heirs of Fascism". At the same time, he said that he will not resign, a reversal from his statement in November, but said he will call early presidential elections if and only if the United States does so as well.

Azerbaijani, Belarus presidents made press statements, April 2021 04
Lukashenko during a bilateral meeting with Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev in Baku, Azerbaijan, April 2021

On 9 May 2021, Lukashenko signed a presidential decree titled "On the Protection of sovereignty and constitutional order". The contingency decree states that in the event that the President is unable to perform his duties, martial law will be immediately imposed and presidential power will be transferred to the Security Council, which is widely believed to be made up of strong allies of Lukashenko. It also states that it is the responsibility of the Security Council to organise new presidential elections. Despite clearly contradicting Article 89 of the constitution, Belarusian authorities praised the decree and declared it fully complies with legislation and is constitutional.

Domestic policy

Lukashenko promotes himself as a "man of the people." Lukashenko wanted to rebuild Belarus when he took office; the economy was in freefall due to declining industry and lack of demand for Belarusian goods. Lukashenko kept many industries under the control of the government. In 2001, he stated his intention to improve the social welfare of his citizens and to make Belarus "powerful and prosperous."

With the ascent to power of Lukashenko in 1994, the Russification policy of Russian Imperial and Soviet era was renewed.

Since the November 1996 referendum, Lukashenko has effectively held all governing power in the nation. Under the Constitution, if the House of Representatives rejects his choice for prime minister twice, he has the right to dissolve it. His decrees have greater weight than ordinary legislation. He also has near-absolute control over government spending; parliament can only increase or decrease spending with his permission. However, the legislature is dominated by his supporters in any event, and there is no substantive opposition to presidential decisions. Indeed, every seat in the lower house has been held by pro-Lukashenko MPs for all but one term since 2004. He also appoints eight members of the upper house, the Council of the Republic, as well as nearly all judges.


Lukashenko's early economic policies aimed to prevent issues that occurred in other post-Soviet states, such as the establishment of oligarchic structures and mass unemployment. The unemployment rate for the country at the end of 2011 was at 0.6% of the population (of 6.86 million eligible workers), a decrease from 1995, when unemployment was 2.9% with a working-eligible population of 5.24 million. The per-capita gross national income rose from US$1,423 in 1993 to US$5,830 at the end of 2011.

One major economic issue Lukashenko faced throughout his presidency was the value of the Belarusian rubel. For a time it was pegged to major foreign currencies, such as the euro, US dollar and the Russian rouble in order to maintain the stability of the rubel. Yet, the currency has experienced several periods of devaluation. A major devaluation took place in 2011 after the government announced that average salaries would increase to US$500. The 2011 devaluation was the largest on record for the past twenty years according to the World Bank.

Belarus also had to seek a bailout from international sources and, although it has received loans from China, loans from the IMF and other agencies depend on how Belarus reforms its economy.

Some critics of Lukashenko, including the opposition group Zubr, use the term Lukashism to refer to the political and economic system Lukashenko has implemented in Belarus. The term is also used more broadly to refer to an authoritarian ideology based on a cult of his personality and nostalgia for Soviet times among certain groups in Belarus. The US Congress sought to aid the opposition groups by passing the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 to introduce sanctions against Lukashenko's government and provide financial and other support to the opposition.

Lukashenko supporters argue that his rule spared Belarus the turmoil that beset many other former Soviet countries. Lukashenko commented on the criticism of him by saying: "I've been hearing these accusations for over 10 years and we have got used to it. We are not going to answer them. I want to come from the premise that the elections in Belarus are held for ourselves. I am sure that it is the Belarusian people who are the masters in our state."

Foreign policy

Further information: Foreign relations of Belarus


Further information: Belarus–Russia relations
Vladimir Putin 14 May 2002-8
With Russian president Vladimir Putin during a news conference in 2002

Lukashenko's relationship with Russia, once his powerful ally and vocal supporter, has significantly deteriorated. The run-up to the 2010 Belarusian presidential election was marked by a series of Russian media attacks on Lukashenko. Throughout July state-controlled channel NTV broadcast a multi-part documentary entitled "The Godfather" highlighting the suspicious disappearance of the opposition leaders Yury Zacharanka and Viktar Hanchar, businessman Anatol Krasouski and journalist Dzmitry Zavadski during the late 1990s. Lukashenko called the media attack "dirty propaganda".

Mishustin and Lukashenko (2020-09-03) 01
Lukashenko with Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin in 2020

Despite a historically good relationship with Russia, tensions between Lukashenko and the Russian government started showing in 2020. On 24 January 2020, Lukashenko publicly accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of trying to make Belarus a part of Russia. This led to Russia cutting economic subsidies for Belarus. In July 2020, the relationship between Belarus and Russia was described as "strained" after 33 Russian military contractors were arrested in Minsk.

Lukashenko afterwards accused Russia of collaborating with opposition activist Siarhei Tsikhanouski and trying to cover up an attempt to send 200 fighters from a private Russian military firm known as the Wagner Group into Belarus on a mission to destabilize the country ahead of its 9 August presidential election. On 5 August 2020, Russia's security chief Dmitry Medvedev warned Belarus to release the contractors. Lukashenko also claimed Russia was lying about its attempts to use the Wagner Group to influence the upcoming election.

On 11 November 2021, Lukashenko raised the possibility of interrupting the Yamal–Europe pipeline carrying Russian gas to the European Union if the bloc imposes further sanctions on Belarus. Russian president Vladimir Putin said that Lukashenko had not consulted him before raising the possibility of stopping gas deliveries coming from Russia to the EU via a pipeline through Belarus, adding that such a move would risk harming ties between Belarus and Russia.


Further information: Belarus–European Union relations

Lukashenko's relationship with the EU has been strained, in part by choice and in part by his policies towards domestic opponents. Lukashenko's repression of opponents caused him to be called "Europe's last dictator" and resulted in the EU imposing visa sanctions on him and a range of Belarusian officials. At times, the EU has lifted sanctions as a way to encourage dialogue or gain concessions from Lukashenko. Since the EU adopted this policy of "change through engagement", it has supported economic and political reforms to help integrate the Belarusian state.

United States

Further information: Belarus–United States relations

In March 2003, Lukashenko said that Belarus unanimously condemned the US-led Iraq War.

Secretary Pompeo Meets With Belarusian President Lukashenko (49473917277)
With U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo in 2020

On 29 August 2019, John Bolton, the National Security Advisor of the United States, was received by Lukashenko during his visit to Minsk, which was the first of its kind in 18 years.

Middle East

Following the 2014 Syrian presidential election, President Lukashenko congratulated President Bashar al-Assad. His cable "expressed keenness to strengthen and develop bilateral relations between Belarus and Syria in all fields for the benefit of the two peoples."

Belarus condemned the NATO-led military intervention in Libya, and the foreign ministry stated that "The missile strikes and bombings on the territory of Libya go beyond Resolution 1973 of the UN Security Council and are in breach of its principal goal, ensuring safety of the civilian population. The Republic of Belarus calls on the states involved with the military operation to cease, with immediate effect, the military operations which lead to human casualties. The settlement of the conflict is an internal affair of Libya and should be carried out by the Libyan people alone without military intervention from outside." They have not recognized the National Transitional Council.

Personal life

Marriage and children

Alexander Lukashenko and his youngest son Nikolai during a Great Patriotic War victory parade in 2012. His eldest son Viktor can be seen in the background.

Lukashenko married Galina Zhelnerovich, his high school sweetheart, in 1975. Later that year, his oldest son, Viktor, was born. Their second son, Dmitry, was born in 1980. Galina lives separately in a house in the village Shklow. Though they are still legally married, Galina Lukashenko has been estranged from her husband since shortly after he became president. In a 2014 interview, Lukashenko said that they had not lived together for 30 years and the only reason they had not divorced was that he did not want to traumatize his adult sons.

Lukashenko fathered a son, Nikolai, who was born in 2004. There has never been any public statement about who Nikolai's mother is; Nikolai was raised solely by his father. Lukashenko has a pet dog, a spitz named Umka.


Fetisov Lukashenko Putin Kamensky Sochi 4 January 2014
Putin on friendly hockey match in Ice arena "Bolshoy", Sochi, in 2014. With him are Lukashenko, Viacheslav Fetisov and Valeri Kamensky.

Lukashenko used to play football, but stopped playing during his presidency. His two elder sons also play ice hockey, sometimes alongside their father. Lukashenko started training in cross-country running as a child, and in the 2000s still competed at the national level. He is a keen skier and ice hockey forward. In an interview he said that he plays ice hockey three times a week. He has established the Belarus President's team, an amateur team which he sometimes plays for. Numerous ice rinks intended to enable competitive ice hockey games to be played, have been built all over Belarus at Lukashenko's behest. Lukashenko was instrumental in getting the 2014 IIHF World Championship in ice hockey to be hosted by Belarus which was considered controversial due to Lukashenko's repressive regime. Belarus was supposed to host the 2021 IIHF World Championship in May 2021, but that was cancelled after international condemnation and threats by sponsors to withdraw.

Religion and beliefs

Lukashenko describes himself as an "Orthodox atheist" and has said that he believes that the president should be a conservative person and avoid using modern electronic technology such as a tablet or smartphone. He used to play the bayan, a musical instrument similar to an accordion

Orders and honors

Alexander Lukashenko wearing the uniform of the commander-in-chief of the Belarusian Armed Forces in 2001
  • Winner of the international premium of Andrey Pervozvanny "For Faith and Loyalty" (1995)
  • The Order of José Martí (Cuba, 2000)
  • Order of the Revolution (Libya, 2000)
  • Special prize of the International Olympic Committee "Gates of Olympus" (2000)
  • Order "For Services to the Fatherland", 2nd Class (Russia, 2001)
  • Honorary citizen of Yerevan, Armenia (2001)
  • Order of St. Dmitry Donskoy, First Degree (by the Russian Orthodox Church) (2005)
  • Medal of the International Federation of Festival Organizations "For development of the world festival movement" (2005)
  • Order of St. Cyril (by the Belarusian Orthodox Church) (2006)
  • Honorary Diploma of the Eurasian Economic Community (2006)
  • Order of St. Vladimir, First Degree (by the Russian Orthodox Church) (2007)
  • Keys to the City of Caracas, Venezuela (2010)
  • Order of Distinguished Citizen (Caracas, Venezuela; 2010)
  • Order of the Republic of Serbia (2013)
  • Presidential Order of Excellence (Georgia, 2013)
  • Order of Alexander Nevsky (Russia, 2014)
  • Order of Nazarbayev (Kazakhstan, 2019)
  • Ig Nobel Prize (Peace in 2013, Medical Education in 2020)

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Aleksandr Lukashenko para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Notable Hispanic authors
Gustavo Gac-Artigas
Lucia M. Gonzalez
Meg Medina
R. J. Palacio
kids search engine
Alexander Lukashenko Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.