Here’s a look at the life of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Birth date: August 30, 1954 (some sources say August 31)
Birth place: Kopys, Belarus
Full name: Alexander Grigorievich Lukashenko
Father: name unavailable publicly
Mother: Yekaterina Lukashenko, milkmaid
Marriage: Galina (Zhelnerovich) Lukashenko (1975-present)
Children: with Galina (Zhelnerovich) Lukashenko: Viktor and Dmitry; with Irina Abelskaya: Nikolai “Kolya”
Education: Mogilev Pedagogical Institute (now Mogilev State A. Kuleshov University), history, 1975; Belarusian Agricultural Academy, economics, 1985
Military service: Soviet Army
Religion: has called himself an “Orthodox atheist”
Was elected president in Belarus’ first democratic election in 1994, but subsequent elections have been marred by allegations of strong-arm tactics and voting irregularities and were won by suspiciously wide margins.
Has been described as “Europe’s last dictator.”
Lukashenko has maintained his country’s close political ties to Russia, restricted opposition movements and censored media.
1975-1977 – Drafted into the military and serves as an instructor in the border guard along the western border of Belarus.
1980-1982 – Serves in the Soviet Army.
1987-1994 – Head of the Gorodets state farm in the Mogilev region.
1990-1994 – Member of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) Supreme Council, where he becomes a deputy and later founds a faction called Communists for Democracy.
1991 – Only member of the Belarusian parliament to vote against the agreement that leads to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
July 10, 1994 – Is elected president of Belarus with 80% of the vote, defeating Prime Minister Vyacheslav Kebich in the country’s first presidential election.
May 1995 – Is behind a referendum that increases integration with Russia, including making the Russian language equal to Belarusian and replacing the national flag and state symbols with ones similar to those of the former Soviet Union. The referendum also gives Lukashenko the right to dissolve the parliament.
November 1996 – Is behind a referendum that revises the Constitution to give more authority to the presidency, including limiting the authority of the Constitutional Court and extending Lukashenko’s presidential term. An impeachment effort fails, and Lukashenko signs a new constitution.
1997-2021 – Head of the Belarusian Olympic Committee.
1999 – Signs a treaty making Belarus a “union state” with Russia.
September 9, 2001 – Is reelected president with 75% of the vote.
October 2004 – A referendum is passed to eliminate presidential term limits.
April 20, 2005 – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refers to Belarus as “the last remaining true dictatorship in the heart of Europe,” in an interview with CNN.
March 2006 – Is reelected president with over 80% of the vote.
December 2010 – Is reelected president with almost 80% of the vote.
October 2015 – Is reelected president with 83.5% of the vote.
March 28, 2020 – Speaks about coronavirus after playing ice hockey in front of a packed stadium in Minsk, Belarus. Specifying no scientific evidence, he says the “fridge” like area is a “real anti-viral cure.”
July 28, 2020 – Lukashenko says he contracted coronavirus but recovered without suffering any symptoms, according to a report from state-run news agency Belta. He has repeatedly dismissed the threat posed by Covid-19, touted home remedies and refused to shut down his country, making Belarus an outlier in Europe.
August 9, 2020 – Lukashenko is reelected with 80% of the vote. His main opposition candidate, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, receives about 10%. She was standing in for her husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, after he was jailed in May in the run-up to the election. Riots ensue.
August 10, 2020 – Demonstrations resume. Around 3,000 people are detained and dozens injured during clashes with police, the interior ministry says in a statement seen by state-run news agency Belta. Tikhanovskaya rejects the preliminary election results and files a complaint with Belarus’ central elections committee demanding a recount of the votes. She leaves for Lithuania soon afterwards.
August 16, 2020 – Lukashenko gives a speech to an estimated crowd of less than 10,000 supporters, according to CNN’s team in Minsk, Belarus. He claims Belarus is being threatened by foreign interference. At the same time, protesters demand a new presidential election, in an estimated crowd of 50,000 according to CNN’s team.
August 17, 2020 – Visits a factory in Minsk, Belarus, according to videos posted online by local news outlets and addresses the election. “You talk about dishonest elections and want to hold new elections,” he tells protesting workers. “We held the elections and until you kill me, there won’t be any new elections.” The crowd chants, “Yes, yes without you.”
September 19, 2020 – 430 people are detained in election protests across Belarus, according to the Belarus Interior Ministry. Of those, 415 are in the capital Minsk. Some 385 people are released by September 20.
September 23, 2020 – Lukashenko is inaugurated for a sixth consecutive term as president in an unannounced ceremony in Minsk, Belarus, according to state media reports. Opposition politicians describe the ceremony as a “thieves’ meeting” and a “farce.” The United States and a number of European Union countries issue statements rejecting the legitimacy of Lukashenko’s win.
September 24, 2020 – The European Union releases a statement regarding the Belarus presidential election. “The European Union does not recognise their falsified results. On this basis, the so-called ‘inauguration’ of 23 September 2020 and the new mandate claimed by Aleksandr Lukashenko lack any democratic legitimacy.”
December 7, 2020 – Following an investigation “Concerning athletes, officials and sports in Belarus,” the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspends the Executive Board of the National Olympic Committee of Belarus “from all IOC events and activities, including the Olympic Games.” Lukashenko’s election of his son Viktor Lukashenko to be replace him as president of the Belarusian NOC is not recognized, according to a March 8, 2021, IOC statement.
May 23, 2021 – A Ryanair flight traveling from Athens to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius is intercepted and forced to land in Minsk, Belarus, as it is about to begin its descent. When it lands, prominent opposition activist Roman Protasevich and his Russian partner Sofia Sapega, who are on the flight, are detained. Protasevich is one of dozens of journalists and activists campaigning in exile against Lukashenko’s 26-year rule. Lukashenko later claims that the flight was diverted because of a bomb threat that had originated in Switzerland, allegations that Swiss authorities refute. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda later tells CNN that the email indicating a bomb threat was sent 30 minutes after Lithuanian officials received the signal from Minsk to land the plane.
May 24, 2021 – The European Union calls on airlines to avoid Belarus’ airspace, responding to the forced landing of the Ryanair flight. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says the bloc is “closing our airspace to planes from Belarus” and calls on EU airlines not to fly over the country. She adds that “further economic sanctions will be presented soon.”
May 24, 2021 – The US National Security Council releases a readout of a call between national security adviser Jake Sullivan and democratic opposition leader Tikhanovskaya. Sullivan “strongly condemned the brazen and dangerous grounding of a Ryanair flight between two EU member states on May 23 and the subsequent removal and detention of journalist Raman Pratasevich.” He demands Protasevich’s immediate release, fair elections and states “that the United States, in coordination with the EU and other allies and partners, will hold the Lukashenka regime to account.”
May 27, 2021 – The International Civil Aviation Organization says it will carry out an investigation into the diversion of the flight, while at least two European carriers say they were refused permission to fly to Moscow by Russian authorities after they requested to fly an alternative route bypassing Belarusian airspace.
May 28, 2021 – Russian President Vladimir Putin cements his support of Lukashenko in a meeting, saying the West’s reaction to the interception and forced landing of a passenger jet “was an outburst of emotion.” The same day, US aviation authorities warn airlines “to exercise extreme caution” when flying over Belarus.
August 9, 2021 – While answering questions from local and foreign media, Lukashenko denies that state repression exists in Belarus. In response to a question on repression and the imprisonment of political opponents, Lukashenko accuses the US of “lawlessness,” citing the January 6 insurrection and invoking false claims about the US presidential election result.
March 15, 2022 – The US sanctions Lukashenka and his wife for gross human right abuses, and playing a key role in aiding Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The US previously applied sanctions to members of Lukashenko’s family in December after a migrant crisis on Belarus’s border with Poland, which also led to accusations of human rights abuses.