Lukashenka gives interview to independent mass media including Euroradio
Alyaksandr Lukashenka on Tuesday gave an exclusive interview to Euroradio, Radio Liberty and TUT.BY.
Statkevich should be released before election if at all
The decision about the release of political prisoner Mikalai Sttakevich may be made very soon, Alyaksandr Lukashenka claimed.
"This question is on the agenda. I am the only person who can decide it. But I have not decided when it will happen. I have not considered the issue this way. He should be released before the election if at all. You will learn it soon. If we use the other variant, there is plenty of time.”
Statkevich was given a chance to plead pardon, Lukashenka said.
"He wants to stay in prison and be released like a hero. I have given him the chance and you are telling me to release him. What should I do? I can release people if they plead pardon but he won’t do it because he wants to be a hero.”
Ex-presidential candidate Mikalai Statkevich was imprisoned for 6 years on charges of the organization of mass riots on the Election Day in 2010. Amnesty International considers Statkevich a prisoner of conscience. The European Union and USA insist on the politician’s release.
On the Russian military bases in Belarus: No Russian aircraft here
In our territory there are two absolutely peaceful military bases. A base in Baranavichy - there's probably three-quarters of our soldiers. A base in Hantsavichy - you can call it a high-tech engineering station, which is in control of missile launches. Could they attack Ukraine? No. We have a small group of customs officers and several Russian border guards, as there is no border between Russia and Belarus there. I gave a green light for their observers to watch what they need to, with our approval of course. It is ten people.
I asked them for aircraft: "Give or sell cheap a dozen aircraft. World Cup needs to be secured. They said they could give 3 aircraft. I said: Well, one of your pilots and two of ours. "I do not know if they are on duty now. I think they left today. We have no Russian planes here.
Time will pass, and even Donbass will belong to Ukraine, the way nationally oriented Ukrainian authorities want it to be.
In Russia, everyone is fed up with the conflict in Ukraine, especially the leaders. I do not believe that the Ukrainian leadership wants there to be peace tomorrow. We have to be smarter and more cunning so that Ukrainian border guards closed the border. No one will forget it, but with time everything will calm down. About 30 million people died in World War II, and we work hand in hand with Germans. Of course, you need a lot of time, but you need to make these steps. Time will pass, and even Donbass will belong to Ukraine, the way nationally oriented Ukrainian authorities want it to be. It is more difficult with Crimea though, almost impossible.
Lukashenka: You will be able to monitor vote count
The Head of State said that he can guarantee that.
Asked about willingness to hold open elections, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said:
"I said: Do not touch them - let them collecting signatures wherever they want. But if you are confident that we can win, well, why create problems? Even if they broke some rules. That's my view of the situation. All on equal terms. "
Lukashenka also said that the process of collecting signatures is a very tense procedure:
"I remember how hard it was for me to collect signatures in the first presidential campaign. I ran around commissions to prove that the signatures were real. Out of 170,000 signatures, we got accepted 120 thousand. They probably could not knock us out this way. I do not want it to be like this now.
You will have the opportunity to monitor the vote count and be on the sites. And you can get all the information. I guarantee it. "
Lukashenka: I would probably not win election, if I was now in opposition
The head of state said that the presidential elections in 1994 were held in a tougher situation than now.
when asked by Zmitser Lukashuk if opposition activist Lukashenka from 1994 could defeat the President Lukashenka in 2015, the President replied:
"Then it was even tougher. They paid the people and said: This is how it should be. "But then people voted for Lukashenka in huge numbers. But it doesn't matter. The situation is different now - both the external and the internal. But I doubt I would have won if I was now in their place. Because people understood a lot. Now people have something to lose. Nobody wants to live in a country at war."
Lukashenka: Statkevich may be released before election
The issue of the former presidential candidate Mikalai Statkevich may be resolved in the near future, said Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
"I am not going to hide it, this issue is on the agenda. Only I can decide it. But I am yet to decide, when it will be. I have not thought about this issue this way. If he is to be released, it should be done before the election. If not, then he will not be released. In the near future you will know about it. There is a lot of time for another option."
However, Lukashenka said that he made it possible for Statkevich to write a petition for pardon.
"He wants to be in prison and come out a hero. I am giving him this opportunity, and you say I should let him go. And what do I do? I can release him, if he turns to me with the request, but he will not, because he wants to be a hero" .
The 2010 presidential candidate, Mikalai Statkevich, was sentenced to 6 years in colony for organizing mass riots. International human rights organization Amnesty International has recognized Statkevich prisoner of conscience. Release of the opposition politician is prompted by the EU and the United States.
Lukashenka: No intervention from Belarus into Ukraine possible
He believes that Russia and Ukraine are now in information war.
Answering the question of Euroradio, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said he does not support an invasion of Ukraine by any troops.
"I support absolutely no troops in Ukraine. Neither Russian nor any others. The way the conflict is shown in the Russian media is ridiculous. The same thing happens on the part of the Ukrainian mass media - it is an information war. I do not support the invasion of any troops and mercenaries."
The Belarusian leader once again assured that Belarus will not participate in the armed conflict in Ukraine:
"Nobody will ever attack Ukraine from our territory, if it is contrary to our interests or unless Ukraine attacks Belarus. But this will never happen. There will be no intervention from the territory of Belarus into Ukraine."
We did not initiate the 30% devaluation
Lukashuk: In 2010, you promised that we will have a jury trial, you said we will build a lot of housing ... and the salary, if converted to dollars, was to grow.
Lukashenka: These are promises that are to be carried out forever. Wage growth should always be there. The fact that wages have not increased in dollars.. You are not using dollars to buy food and clothes in Belarus. I do not dispute your argument. You said that the salary in rubles grew up, but in dollars it declined. Did you notice that it was not us who initiated the 30% devaluation. This happened in our markets: first in Russia and then in Kazakhstan. We could not hold on to the currency for there reasons. Therefore we are not holding back, there are no interventions of the National Bank. The rate is going is the way it is and it will always be this way.
The idea of the Russian world is nonsense. Someone suggested it for propaganda. I think this issue is off the agenda
Lukashenka noted that the idea of the Russian world is nonsense, that someone suggested for propaganda. According to him, this is a contrived and stupid argument, and the president of Russia should not be ascribed the position, which he has never adhered to.
"It is not true that majority is for the Russian world. I asked the ambassador (of Russia - Euroradio): "What do you mean by collecting Russian lands and what is the Russian world?" Nobody explained anything. But now it is not in the Russian media anymore. I think they heard my critical question and removed it from the agenda."
Russia will never wage war on Belarus. It would be a catastrophe for Russia
"Russia will never wage war on Belarus. It would be a catastrophe for Russia. You don’t believe it either, I do not know why you are writing that we are next after Ukraine. Belarus is the only decent ally of the Russian Federation now,” Lukashenka answered the question asked by Radio Liberty journalist Valery Kalinouski. “You problem is the fact that you do not know what is happening and what happened in Ukraine. Mass media have carted a trend of the Ukrainain events. What if someone wanted part of Palesse? We would fight for every piece of the land. There were many Ukrainian troops there. Why didn’t they go to war? Do you understand that this land in not yours? There are a lot of nuances about the Ukrainian events and they are not publicly discussed. But it does not mean that we do not discus them at closed meetings.”
I speak Belarusian more and more with youngest son
Euroradio journalist Zmitser Lukashuk suggested that Lukashenka spoke Belarusian at the press conference.
“You are trying to restrict me from the very beginning. It is not democratic. To be honest, I have started speaking Belarusian more.”
He has started speaking Belarusian more with his youngest son, Lukashenka noted.
"I have always demonstrated that nobody can tell people what language to speak. 60% of the population considers Belarusian their mother tongue. It would have been different if we had exercised pressure on the people.”
I’m not afraid of talking to mass media that criticize me
The meeting was suggested by journalists half a year ago, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said at the beginning of the press conference. He is not afraid of talking to the mass media that criticize him, he noted.
It is not right to call mass media non-governmental because mass media can be private but people working for them live and work in Belarus, Lukashenka added.