On October 1st Belarusian president Lukashenko held his eighth annual press conference aimed at Russian media. The record number of more than one hundred reporters from neighboring country attended the event. Their interest was fueled by the growing number of personal attacks aimed at Lukashenko on Russian TV and upcoming presidential elections in Belarus.
Lukashenko spent most of the time answering questions related to Belarusian-Russian relationships which have significantly worsened in last few years.
When explaining why his county has not recognized independence of Georgia’s two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he said that he was “ready” to do so but Russian president refused to “share” negative consequences which Belarus could have suffered if he were to take this step. The president accused his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in ordering to “hound” him and expressed believe that Vladimir Putin “takes the same position”. He called this strategy “reckless” and “brainless”. However, “If there is a will of the Russian state, the Russian elite, then within three months, maximum six months we will not just improve relationships, will not simply return to the level of relationship that existed, but substantially surpass it,” he summarized.
He also expressed his frustration with Russian political and business elite who support opposition candidates in soon to be held presidential elections. ”Representatives from the opposition in elections can be supported by no more than 100-150 thousand voters,” said Lukashenko “These are the people who yesterday used to receive grants from Western Europe and the USA. Now they found another sponsor – the Russian business”. He also voiced his opinion about the number of people who support opposition “Pure opposition – 400 people. The number of supporters who can openly confront the authorities at rallies and demonstrations – 800. And maybe 100-150 thousand can vote for them in elections,” president suggested.
More information about the conference can be found here (in Russian)