Nailia Asker-Zade, a journalist for a Kremlin mouthpiece in an interview with Lukashenko, is better known to the public not because of her professional activities, but because of a study by Kremlin critic Alexei Navaln, which revealed the wealth her lover of the 63-year-old Russian state Andrei Kostin, the bank’s president and a close figure in Vladimir Putin’s environment.
“Do you consider Vladimir Putin as your friend?” Asker-Zade asked Lukashenko. “Yes, I consider him my friend. And this year, he reaffirmed that he is a friend not only of me, but also of the Belarusian people, “the Belarusian leader smiled.
Questions on rapprochement with Moscow
During the interview, the journalist tried to provoke Lukashenko by asking about the rapprochement with Moscow. He was repeatedly reminded of the close relations between Russia and Belarus, their common history and roots. Asked whether the level of bilateral integration seemed sufficient to him, Lukashenko avoided saying that “before making further moves, issues of principle should be resolved and a level playing field created.”
In saying this, he meant the more favorable gas price he was trying to negotiate with Russia.
“I think that this price could be more favorable in the context of our relations,” Lukashenko said.
Alexei Miller, head of Russia’s Gazprom, and Viktor Karankevich, Belarus’s energy minister, signed a protocol in St. Petersburg on December 24, which established the procedure for calculating the prices of Russian gas supplied to Belarus for 2021. During the interview, Lukashenko said the exact price of gas – it will reach 128.5 USD per thousand cubic meters.
He emphasized that there was no need for a single currency so far, calling it a “peak point in bilateral relations” that it could only be achieved once other issues had been resolved.
Relations with Europe and the West
“There is a country, an older brother, that will always support Belarus, it is Russia. And Russia is also convinced that it would be difficult in the direction of the Western vector without Belarus, “Lukashenko said.
Asked if much was being done about the West’s failure to recognize the results of Belarus’s presidential election, Mr Lukashenko said it was a matter of taste.
“Some acknowledge (election results, 15min), others do not. It’s a matter of taste. Frankly, it’s not very nice, but it doesn’t kill me, “he opened.
Despite a clear return to Russia in recent times and sanctions imposed by the West, Mr Lukashenko has not ruled out the possibility of further relations and development with the United States, the European Union and China.
“The United States is a large country with abundant high technology. We want and will strive to develop a relationship with it. I think they care about Belarus, “Lukashenko explained. Asked if the United States wanted to maintain relations with Belarus, he replied: “If you do not want to, do so.”
During the interview, the Belarusian leader emphasized that the country does not only receive assistance from Russia.
“In the past, when serious sanctions were imposed on us, China reached out to us with an investment of $ 7 billion. <...> Having taken the credits offered by the EU, we repaired many roads in Belarus. Russia will not offer us such loans, “Lukashenko explained.
Relations with the opposition
Currently, the leader of the Belarusian opposition residing in Lithuania, Sviatlan Cichanouskaya, has been called the building of Lithuanian and Polish special services by Lukashenko.
“I don’t want to talk badly about it, but I want to say that Sviatlana is not able to formulate a unified idea to present it, even on the Telegram channel. She does all this for her and later offers her foreign hands, “Lukashenko said.
Asker-Zade recalled a meeting with detained opposition figures in the State Security Committee’s (KGB) isolator last October. After him, Siarhej Cichanouskis was allowed to call S.Cichanouskaja, who lives in Lithuania. During the conversation, the husband urged his wife not to give up and to take even tougher rhetoric.
Recalling this conversation during the interview, Lukashenko called it “impossible” that the opposition was talking to his wife about politics. “It’s just not possible humanly – a person is allowed to call, and that’s how he speaks. This characterizes him. I am glad that many, including you, have seen his real face, “Lukashenko addressed the famous Russian propagandist.
Mr Lukashenko explained that the meeting with the opposition was “under pressure from Russia” and stressed that he had shown that he could “knit a dialogue with anyone”.
Lukashenko commented on the intentions to disconnect Belarus from the World Interbank Financial Telecommunication Organization (SWIFT) system, openly upset – “let him disconnect if he wants problems,” he said.
The headquarters of Belarusian opposition leader S. Cichanouskaya issued a report last November announcing its intention to extend sanctions against the Belarusian regime.
Ms Cichanouskaya said that the aim was for “foreign banks to stop lending to Belarus [bankus], in particular the state-owned Belarusbank and Belagroprom, and to cooperate with them.
“We have discussed the possibility of disconnecting the Lukashenko regime from the SWIFT system,” through which international interbank settlements take place, according to S. Chichanouskaya’s report.
This Sunday, S. Chichanouskaya also spoke about another measure – the opportunity to postpone the World Hockey Championship, which is due to take place in Minsk this year. A statement published on Ms. Cichanouskaya’s Telegram channel indicated that she and Latvian Foreign Minister Edgar Rinkevičius had discussed the possibility of relocation.
Lukashenko spoke much more calmly about moving the championship, despite the fact that hockey is his old passion, and huge sums of money were invested in the championship. He claimed not to turn his head over it.
Relations with Ukraine
Speaking to Rossija1 journalist, Lukashenko said he was not angry with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for saying that Ukraine did not recognize him as the legitimate president of Belarus.
“Our economic cooperation continues to develop. I am not angry with V.Zelensky and the Ukrainian authorities. We have not ruined the relationship and we are not ruining it. If Russia and Ukraine need anything, we also become intermediaries in the economy, “Lukashenko said.
Indeed, relations between the two countries remain relatively close: in 2020. gasoline imports to Ukraine amounted to 1.095 mln. tons, that is 5.5 percent. more than last year (1.038 million tonnes). This was announced in January this year by the Ukrainian portal enkorr.ua, according to sources in the consultation group A-95
According to A-95, Belarusian refineries increased the volume of exported gasoline by 23.7 percent. (163 thousand tons) to 854.5 thousand. tonnes, thus increasing the share of petrol imports from 67%. up to 78 percent.
From 2020 onwards. August 9 The country has been shaken by protests in Belarus. Belarusians took to the streets after the country had been occupied since 1994. Lukashenko, who ruled, declared himself the winner of the election.
The opposition and Western democracies claim that these elections were rigged. Protesters are demanding Lukashenko’s resignation, the release of political prisoners and new elections.
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