Belarus's authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka says he lags "far behind" Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin as a leader and that opposition protesters should never be allowed onto the streets.
In one of his trademark outbursts, Lukashenka on October 16 condemned what he described as attempts to "demonize" Stalin and Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. He made his comments during a press conference with Russian journalists.
"In half a century, how will we be judged?" Lukashenka asked. "If Western trends catch on here, I will be considered worse than Stalin. [They will say I] snatched people on the street and ate them, especially women, and other things. This is exactly how Stalin and Lenin are demonized."
He suggested he had much to learn from the two leaders, both of whom are blamed for the death of millions of people during the Soviet era and the civil war triggered by the Bolshevik revolution.
If Western trends catch on here, I will be considered worse than Stalin. [They will say I] snatched people on the street and ate them, especially women, and other things.
"I am not saying I am against Stalin and Lenin," Lukashenka said. "On the contrary, I am far behind Stalin and Lenin."
Lukashenka, a former Soviet-era collective farm manager, used the opportunity to take one more jab at the Belarusian opposition, dismissing antigovernment protests as mere attempts to show off.
"They do it sometimes, just for the look of it, just for provocation. And we swallow the hook," he said. "And because we are the authorities, we start bombing, jailing, crushing, etc. We should not give them the opportunity to do this. We should actually prevent it. The fact that they act publicly is our shortcoming."
Lukashenka has run Belarus with an iron first since 1994.
Western monitoring agencies have not judged an election in Belarus free and fair since 1995, including parliamentary elections last month in which the political opposition failed to win a single seat.
Already tense relations between the West and Lukashenka, famously described by the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush as Europe's last dictator, nosedived after he cracked down on street protests against his reelection in December 2010.
Hundreds of people were detained and many sentenced to prison terms.
Rights groups say a dozen opposition activists are currently jailed in Belarus.
Lukashenka's comments came just one day after the European Union announced it was extending sanctions against his regime to protest human rights abuses.