Interview of President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko to Alexander Gurnov, head and host of the program Spotlight of the TV company Russia Today
Alexander Gurnov: Good afternoon, Alexander Grigoryevich. Thank you very much for agreeing to take part in our program.
Alexander Lukashenko: Good afternoon.
Alexander Gurnov: Alexander Grigoryevich, I would like to begin, if I may, with something personal. It is not for the first time when we record an interview and it is not for the first time when we work with you…
Alexander Lukashenko: Fortunately.
Alexander Gurnov: Yes, fortunately. And you know it is fortunately indeed. I am surprised. It is not for the first time when I see wonderful cordiality, wonderful openness and even readiness to help everyone displayed by people around you, from top officials to security officers. Is there anything more behind good discipline?
Alexander Lukashenko: It is Belarusian mentality based on strict state discipline and order. "The last dictatorship in Europe" is not a joke, so to speak.
Alexander Gurnov: Well, it is purely discipline and no special treatment.
Alexander Lukashenko: This is indeed the mentality of Belarusians. We always tried to help everyone, to give warmth and food to everyone, and to share everything we have. It is bred in the bone of Belarusians. So when you called me and asked for a meeting I decided that the meeting will take place. And we worked in this direction.
Alexander Gurnov: Alexander Grigoryevich, in 2014 the IIHF World Championship is scheduled to take place in Minsk. Today there are rumors that the tournament will be relocated. The right to host the championship will be given to another country. Why?
Alexander Lukashenko: I heard such rumors. These are purely politicized moves and they have nothing to do with sport. If it happens this way, it will make a big blow to the image of the International Ice Hockey Federation, to say the least of it. Probably, it will damage global sport. Belarus deserves to host this championship. We have done a lot to gear up for the tournament. And I am convinced that if the championship is held in Minsk, all reporters will say that nothing of this kind has ever happened before. All the country will work for this world championship with cordiality.
Alexander Gurnov: Alexander Grigoryevich, let us move to politics. The other day two men charged with carrying out terrorist attacks in Belarus (not only in the metro system) were executed. The European Union asked you to delay the execution, to postpone it, and suggested raising the status of diplomatic relations and making concessions in return.
Alexander Lukashenko: I interrupt. The European Union has never asked me to postpone the execution of these people. The EU has always asked to cancel death penalty.
Alexander Gurnov: Yes, but in this very case they suggested adjourning the execution.
Alexander Lukashenko: What does "adjourning" mean? The sentence was pronounced last autumn (in November), several months have passed since then. All legal procedures were observed.
Alexander Gurnov: I understand. What did you feel in the moment when you could pardon, could give them a chance?
Alexander Lukashenko: I am often asked: what is the most difficult thing that you have faced? I have already said in public that the most difficult thing for me is to sign a non-pardon order. For the whole period, I pardoned only one person sentenced to death. What did I feel?.. It was a real tragedy or me. I felt for the parents of those people whom I could not help.
There were absolutely transparent proceedings from beginning to end. Russia’s FSB, Israel’s MOSSAD and Interpol that were engaged in the investigation had neither questions nor doubts.<…> The trial was open. If the mother had any doubts or suspicions, I insisted that any signal should be inspected, and so it was. Therefore the proceedings were absolutely transparent.
Alexander Gurnov: Alexander Grigoryevich, let us speak about Moscow politics. The EurAsEC summit took place. When you were on your way here, we learned that this summit resulted in the decision to postpone the transformation of this community because Minsk impeded the process due to some differences of opinion with Moscow.
Alexander Lukashenko: When we set up the Customs Union and launched the Single Economic Space, which is a higher level of integration, in January 2012, a question about the EurAsEC’s future came up at the previous session. Three states became members of the SES, they were ready for this and prepared all the relevant legal framework. <…> Three countries stepped over the barrier and established the Eurasian Economic Commission, a new body that we will handle all issues in the Customs Union. We have agreed that we need to transform the EurAsEC (as it is an international organization with an international status, therefore it cannot be dissolved, but should be transformed). We have agreed to meet in March to make a decision. (Earlier we adopted a decision to be in the Eurasian Economic Union starting from 2015).
Russia was engaged in the working out of a draft resolution. Russians prepared the agreement on the transformation of the Eurasian Economic Community into the Eurasian Economic Union and suggested prompting the process. Belarus supported the idea, pointing to the part of the draft agreement suggested by Russia which said that the economic commission had the right to sign international agreements on behalf of three member states. We were not against it, and if it is not a stumbling stone, we will agree. But it is unnecessary since all of us, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, might conclude agreement on our behalves. The Eurasian Economic Union is an economic organization, while agreements might be not only economic but also political, military, and others.
We have not signed the agreement because Kazakhstan was against our, Russian and Belarusian, proposals. Kazakhstan stated it was no need to accelerate the process.
Alexander Gurnov: I would like to discuss other issues which have already made headlines. The other day [Stanislav] Shushkevich was barred from leaving the country (as far as I know, he was bound for Lithuania). I interviewed him and he used to criticize you a lot. You, in turn, always treated him with respect. What changed?
Alexander Lukashenko: You know, I always treat my predecessors with respect.
Today in the European Union there is a list of so-called "no-entry people" which includes your obedient servant. This list has been drawn up with the aid of our "fifth column" which is led by one of its leaders – Stanislav Shushkevich.
Alexander Gurnov: So did you compile your blacklist list in response?
Alexander Lukashenko: We have not introduced it yet fully. But we will certainly do it. These people provide the West with names and companies and suggest imposing economic sanctions .
Alexander Gurnov: Thank you for the interview.