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The President of Belarus has told the British Independent newspaper and BBC TV Channel in an interview that democracy is simply a front for setting alight the Arabic arc
By Vladimir Khromov
The conversation touched upon various aspects of the country’s life, including foreign and domestic policy, the economy and social development. Mr. Lukashenko answered several personal questions, with considerable attention paid to public progress and democratic development. In total, he spent almost four hours answering over 60 questions.
Mr. Lukashenko has a long standing relationship with journalists, having always impressed Western guests with his sincerity and emotionality. On this occasion, the owner of the paper and one of its major journalists, Russian Yevgeny Lebedev, arrived in Minsk personally to conduct the interview (several years ago, his father — famous businessman Alexander Lebedev — bought the debt-laden Independent for just one pound). He seemed to be searching for answers to many questions personally, treating the interview as more of a discussion, tackling domestic and foreign policy, assessments of vital events worldwide and personal issues.
Speaking of the Arab world, Mr. Lukashenko asserted, “They bombed Iraq. Why? They killed thousands of innocent people, including children. They aren’t guilty of anything. What democracy did they bring?”
Mr. Lebedev made an attempt to parry, saying, “I don’t defend the war in Iraq. However, there are two opinions. Some say that the war was wrong while others approve, since a true dictator was unseated.”
“Yes, you’ve strung up Hussein but you’ve killed around a million people to do so.”
The whole conversation was filled with similarly sharp but succinct speeches. The President of Belarus continued to develop his position, saying, “Someone wanted to set the Arabic arc alight. In the very first days, when the revolutions began, I said that the West should be condemned for interference. However, there was even worse to come! Now, we see where it has ended: the entire arc is alight. It’s hot everywhere. Surprisingly, some countries — those which maintain the closest relations with the USA — have not been affected. Aren’t you concerned? It was obvious to anyone that an overseas scenario was in progress. Once the situation began unfolding in a way the script writers didn’t like, they started barefaced bombing.”
Curiously, the guest eventually agreed that the export of revolutions hasn’t been the most successful path for the West. Mr. Lukashenko responded, “We don’t need to export revolutions. Why then do they export democracy? I mean democracy as they view it. What kind of democracy does Iraq have today when bombs explode and hundreds of people die? Even worse, thousands are crippled. How many people have been killed to date? Who needs such democracy? Truly, the issue isn’t democracy. They needed to split Iraq; they needed oil. Is there anyone who doesn’t now understand this? ‘Democracy’ was just a front for robbery.”
The Belarusian President also commented on attempts to play out a similar scenario in Belarus. “Each day, I’m democratised by the West with a truncheon, roughly speaking. Who needs such ‘democracy’? Which democracy? These are double standards. For example, the Americans want to ‘democratise’ us. Fine! However, go first to Saudi Arabia and democratise there. They’ve democratised Egypt even though it had a more democratic regime than Saudi Arabia.”
Such ‘democracy’ is unacceptable to us. This ‘democracy’ kills millions of innocent people beyond the country’s borders. I’m accused of signing a decree to execute two terrorists; millions of people were killed at that time.”
Manipulation of elections is another popular legend about Belarus in the West. Mr. Lukashenko tackled this topic, saying, “Why do you interfere in our traditions and our legislation? We want our president to be elected by the majority of voters. Do you throw doubt upon this? Name facts! You say we’ve fabricated results. Name concrete facts! How many organisations and independent observers saw differently? How can you explain the fact that a month before the presidential elections, an OSCE report on the results of elections in Belarus lay on my table. When the elections took place, it was published one-to-one, as happened this time. A week before the elections, they came with a ready-made ‘billet’ of assessment. Everything was outlined in advance, as we knew.”
Mr. Lukashenko is always eager to explain his position openly to journalists from any country. It seemed that Mr. Lebedev and Natalia Antelava, a BBC correspondent who also took part in the conversation, brought much speculation with them.