Monday, November 28, 2011

Alexander Lukashenko

Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko (born 30 or 31 August 1954) has been serving as the President of Belarus since 20 July 1994. Before his career as a politician, Lukashenko worked as director of a state-owned agricultural farm. Under Lukashenko's rule, Belarus has come to be viewed as a state whose conduct is out of line with international law and whose regime is considered to grossly violate human rights. Belarus has never held a poll seen as fair by international monitors since Lukashenko began his presidency. Belarus has been called "the last true remaining dictatorship in the heart of Europe" by the former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He and other Belarusian officials are also subject of the sanctions imposed by the European Union for egregious human rights violations.

Early life and career (1954–1994)
Lukashenko was born on 30 or 31 August 1954 in the settlement of Kopys in the Vitebsk voblast of the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Trokhym Lukashenko, grandfather of Lukashenko – was born in the Sumy Oblast of Ukraine. Lukashenko grew up without a father in his childhood, leading him to be taunted by his schoolmates for having an unmarried mother. He graduated from the Mogilev Pedagogical Institute in 1975 and the Belarussian Agricultural Academy in 1985. He served in the Border Guard (frontier troops) from 1975 to 1977 and in the Soviet Army from 1980 to 1982. Lukashenko led a Komsomol chapter in Mogilev from 1977 to 1978. While in the Soviet Army, Lukashenko was an officer of the 120th Motorised Rifle "Guard" Division, which was based in Minsk. After leaving the military he became the deputy chairman of a collective farm in 1982 and in 1985. He was promoted to the post of director of the Gorodets state farm and construction materials plant in the Shklov district.

In 1990, Lukashenko was elected as a Deputy in the Supreme Council of the Republic of Belarus. He was the only deputy of the Belarusian parliament who voted against ratification of the December 1991 agreement that dissolved the Soviet Union and set up the Commonwealth of Independent States in its place.

Having acquired a reputation as an eloquent opponent of corruption, Lukashenko was elected in 1993 to serve as the chairman of the anti-corruption committee of the Belarusian parliament. In late 1993 he accused 70 senior government officials, including Stanislav Shushkevich, of corruption including stealing state funds for personal purposes. The Speaker of Parliament, Shushkevich lost a vote of no-confidence and resigned. Some believe that the vague nature of the charges indicates they were merely a pretext for removing Shushkevich, who had become increasingly unpopular among the conservative parliamentary majority.

A new Belarusian constitution enacted in early 1994 paved the way for the first democratic presidential elections in July. Six candidates stood, including Lukashenko, who campaigned as an independent on a populist platform of "defeat[ing] the mafia." Shushkevich and Vyacheslav Kebich also ran, with the latter regarded as the clear favourite. Lukashenko won 45.1% of the vote while Kebich received 17.4%, Zyanon Paznyak received 12.9% and Shushkevich received 9.9%. Lukashenko won the second round of the election on 10 July with 80.1% of the vote. Shortly after his election to the presidency in Belarus, he addressed the State Duma of the Russian Federation in Moscow proposing a new Union of Slavic states, which would culminate in the creation of the Union State in 1999.

Personal life
Lukashenko married Galina Zhelnerovich, his high school sweetheart, in 1975. Later that year his oldest son, Viktor, was born. Their second son, Dmitry, was born in 1980. Galina lives separately in the family's house in the village near Shklov. Though they are still legally married, Galina Lukashenko has been estranged from her husband since shortly after he became president. There is no mentioning of Galina in the biography of Alexander Lukashenko published on the official presidential website.

Lukashenko fathered an illegitimate son, Nikolay, who was born in 2004. Though never confirmed officially, it is widely believed that the child's mother is Irina Abelskaya – the two had have an affair when she was the personal doctor of Lukashenko.

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