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Lukashenka's Flights Of Fancy


Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's Boeing 767 at an Istanbul airport shortly after its purchase from Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov and before being repainted.

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's Boeing 767 at an Istanbul airport shortly after its purchase from Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov and before being repainted.

Germany's "Der Spiegel Online" is reporting that a luxury Boeing 767 belonging to Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka -- registration EW-001PB -- is once again in a hangar in Hamburg, being refitted with expensive accoutrement to further accommodate the dictator's expensive tastes.

Lukashenka's plane is reportedly being updated with a bejeweled shower and golden fittings and already boasts large white-leather sofas and armchairs. The jet made a previous stop in Hamburg in October for an initial round of updating.

Ready for takeoff: President Alyaksandr Lukashenka

Ready for takeoff: President Alyaksandr Lukashenka

"Der Spiegel" reports that the work on the aircraft, which was purchased by Lukashenka in May for a reported $124 million -- from a fellow despot, no less, in Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov -- has sparked debate in Germany about the propriety of doing business with a man commonly referred to as "Europe's last dictator."

"Der Spiegel" quotes the chairman of the Transport Committee of the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, Anton Hofreiter, as saying he doesn't understand why Lufthansa Technik, the firm that is doing the work, is cooperating with a "dictator who gives orders for the death penalty and violently destroys the opposition."

"Der Spiegel" notes that Lufthansa is not known for being picky about who it does business with, having previously accepted contracts from the Saudi and Bahraini royal families, as well as VIPs from Equatorial Guinea.

Lufthansa has not commented on the latest reports.

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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