Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Silly Dictator Stories #2: Lukashenka's Bolivar Moment

President Hugo Chavez (left) escorts his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and the Belarusian president's son, Mykalay, at a welcoming ceremony at Miraflores Palace in Caracas on June 26.
President Hugo Chavez (left) escorts his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and the Belarusian president's son, Mykalay, at a welcoming ceremony at Miraflores Palace in Caracas on June 26.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has offered another glimpse into his dreams of filial succession for Belarus, this time at a meeting with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

Foreign and domestic audiences are long-accustomed to seeing Lukashenka's 7-year-old son, Mykalay, beside him at official events (including the four-term president's frequent trips to the ballot box in deeply flawed elections).

Public claims to the Belarusian presidency on behalf of Kolya, as he's known, are less common.

Still, there it was, according to Interfax and RFE/RL's Belarus Service, who quoted Lukashenka on his arrival in Caracas on June 26:

"You're correct in pointing out that my kid is here alongside us. This shows that we have seriously and lastingly established the foundation for our cooperation, and that in 20 to 25 years there will be someone to take over the reins of this cooperation."

Minsk has particularly sought to kindle the economic relationship with Venezuela since around 2006, coincidentally when the Belarusian economy began to slacken. The tack has borne fruit, with mutual trade ballooning in the five years to 2011 to $1.3 billion, according to official figures.

But the real or perceived dividends for these two men is on the international stage, where they are vocal opponents of U.S. power and influence.

Here's how the Belarusian Foreign Ministry puts it:

An important factor to achieve convergence of positions of Belarus and Latin American countries on the international stage is a perceived need for a multipolar world. Belarus and most Latin American countries have similar positions regarding the place and role of the UN, as well as principles of its reform. In these circumstances, the relations between Belarus with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are dynamically expanding; constantly maintained is the process of forging and strengthening a political dialogue with the region’s major players.

Belarus insists that the two countries' "strategic partnership...is gaining momentum."

Still, his decision to talk about hereditary leadership of his country in Caracas is notable for its temerity.

After all, Chavez is facing a reelection battle in October that could actually test his stranglehold on Venezuelan institutions. Witness rival Henrique Capriles' call this week for a stop to Chavez's "cadenas," the rambling presidential soliloquies that television and radio networks in Venezuela are forced to broadcast.

Moreover, Venezuela's most famous son, Simon Bolivar, showed nearly two centuries ago that the succession issue can prove a dead end there. That's when Bolivar, lionized throughout Latin America, was foiled in negotiations over his Gran Colombia republic in his push for a lifetime presidency and a free hand to pick his own successor.

Suggesting that whether it's 19th-century Latin America or 21st-century Belarus, elections matter.

PHOTO GALLERY: Life With Father -- Lukashenka & His Son Kolya:

  • Lukashenka votes at a polling station in Minsk in September 2008, 4-year-old Kolya at his side.
  • Lukashenka with Kolya at a hockey match in December 2008.
  • Lukashenka and Kolya meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in April 2009.
  • Kolya offers a Russian-language alphabet book to Pope Benedict during the meeting at the Vatican.
  • Riding a Harley, Lukashenka and Kolya take part in a motorbike festival in Minsk in July 2009.
  • Lukashenka and Kolya arrive in Bishkek in July 2009.
  • Lukashenka (right), Kolya, and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev observe joint military exercises in September 2009.
  • Lukashenka with Kolya, who's holding an iPhone, in Gorky Park in Minsk in May 2010
  • Lukashenka and Kolya during a visit to Turkey in September 2010
  • Lukashenka stands next to Kolya as he casts his ballot for president for him at a polling station in December 2010.
  • Kolya and Lukashenka meet with Cuban President Raul Castro
  • Lukashenka and Kolya arrive to attend his swearing-in at the Palace of the Republic in Minsk on January 21, 2011.
  • Lukashenka and Kolya watch a military parade to mark the nation's Independence Day in central Minsk in July 2012.
  • Kolya and his father with then-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili at the Euro 2012 finals in Kyiv.
  • Lukashenka, Kolya, and Metropolitan Paval of Minsk and Slutsk
  • Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (left), Lukashenka, Kolya, and Russian President Vladimir Putin chat at a reception for high-profile guests at the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February 2014.
  • Lukashenka and Kolya attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February 2014.
  • Lukashenka and Kolya harvest potatoes at the presidential residence in Drozdy, near Minsk, in August.
  • Lukashenka and Kolya lay a wreath at the September 11 memorial in New York on September 27.

  • Kolya and Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimer Makey attend the UN General Assembly in New York on September 28.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, pose with Lukashenka and Kolya during the UN General Assembly in New York on September 28.

-- Andy Heil

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This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 27, 2012 20:19
The silliest story on Lukashenko is the one that one can regularly read in the RFE/RL and other Western media and that consits in that "something is going to happen to him soon and he will be ousted from power". The same silly story that you, guys, have been repeating about Putin, Fidel, Chávez, Mugabe, Ahmadinejad, the DPRK leadership and recently about Bashar al-Assad. And all of those leaders whose departure you have predicted at one or another stage of your "journalistic" careers have stayed and will stay in power. The only ones who get kicked out of office are your friends, such as Ben Ali (Tunesia), Mubarak, Yushchenko or recently Tadic.
In Response

by: Jack from: US
June 27, 2012 20:58
Lukashenko is a NATO filet mignon.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienne
June 29, 2012 06:47
:-))) Il est bien mignon, but no one has managed to make of him a filet so far :-)).

by: john from: canada
June 28, 2012 01:20
I think that Russians believe Belarus to be a joke country, but when Putin sucks up to Stalinist wannabe Lukashenka, they can see that Russia is very close to Belarus in more ways than just geography. Now the prospect of president for life Putin might one day meet new Belarus president for life Kolya...

About This Blog

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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