As Belarus’ political turmoil continues, old comments made by the Northeastern European country’s leader have resurfaced.
Alexander Lukashenko, who has led the ex-Soviet country since 1994, had his old controversial comment reappear on the internet after disturbances hit Belarus following recent election predictions suggesting another presidential term for the 26-year president.
The media exposed the autocrat’s remarks in 2012 where an openly gay official criticized Belarus’ poor democratic record. Lukashenko responded by saying “better to be a dictator than gay” while referring to a number of EU officials.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is Germany’s first openly gay minister, branded him “Europe’s last dictator,” prompting Lukashenko to make his politically incorrect reply, according to Reuters.
The comments were made as the EU scrutinized Belarus’ alleged human rights abuses. At the time of the summit, Belarus was the only European country to have the death penalty.
Westerwelle and Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski were masterminds of a “diplomatic offensive” against Minsk, according to DW.
“One lives in Warsaw and the other in Berlin,” Lukashenko said. “The second was complaining about a dictatorship. When I heard that, I thought to myself that it is better to be a dictator than gay.”
“This is absolute hysteria,” A local publication reported him as saying. “And as you can see, at the forefront there are two types of politicians … one lives in Warsaw, another in Berlin.”
“Whoever was shouting about dictatorship there … when I heard that, I thought: it’s better to be a dictator than gay.”
On another occasion after the original comment, Lukashenko said, “I can forgive lesbians but not gay men,” drawing the ire of several international groups.
Belarus has been previously hit with sanctions for their alleged human rights abuses. However, Lukashenko has steadfastly maintained that his opposition are “sheep” backed by foreign entities.
Lukashenko, who was the only deputy for the Belarus parliament to vote against the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, still relies heavily on Russia for trade.
In recent weeks, as claims that the Belarussian elections are rigged, violence has erupted on its streets, with at least one protester dying.
However, Lukashenko is polling at around 80% of the vote.
The ruling faction’s opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya fled the country fearing for her safety as election polls revealed that incumbent Lukashenko was nearing to another term in office.
Situation gets weirder: In video apparently recorded before she left Belarus, reading from script, Tikhanovskaya calls on Belarusians to accept Lukashenko’s “victory” and stop protesting. We know she was held incommunicado at election commission yday. Seems this happened there. pic.twitter.com/eWb93Vcxap
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) August 11, 2020
Tikhanovskaya apparently began to lead an anti-Lukashenko opposition after her husband was arrested and blocked from voting.