Posted: 8/4/2012


         He is Europe's last dictator-well if you don't count Sepp Blatter, and Britain has banned him from attending the 2012 London Olympic Games.

          In power in Belarus since 1994, Alexander Lukashenko intends to stay for the long haul. He recently stated that the man who will succeed him is his 7 year old son Kolya.... in 2037. The next elections are on September 23 this year, but the opposition intend to boycott them. The constitution stated that 2 x 4 year terms were the limit... but he changed that for an unlimited term.

         Yesterday the Swedish Ambassador, Stefan Erikkson, was expelled after seven years for persistently promoting civil rights. On July 4th a Swedish PR firm hired a light plane and dropped 800 teddy bears over the capital Minsk, with notes attached about civil rights abuses in a country that still uses the ruble.

         He fired the Defence Minister, Head of the Air Force and Border Agency and two generals. Citizens have been arrested for clapping, including a one arm man. Lukashenko appointed himself President of the Belarus Olympic Committee and has put some of his miltary advisors into each sports federation. Ice hockey is the big sport and since his 'election' he has increased the number of outdoor rinks from 3 to 23. Over 120 foreign players have been given citizenship and added to club rosters competing in European competition.

         The 2014 World  Ice Hockey Championships have been awarded to the country, but citing human rights abuses, and objections from member federations, that privilege is in danger of being taken away. After being banned from London he stated that  "Our athletes are our best politicians and ambassadors."  Earlier this week one of them, a hammer thrower, three times world champion Ivan Tsikhan, has been sent home for testing positive for drugs. With new testing methods, and this must be feared by many cheats, his 2004 Athens Olympic sample was re-tested this week and he was found to have be doping, EIGHT YEARS AGO !!

         Outside the House of Government in Minsk is a statue of Vladimir Lenin. The only other such statue that I have seen is on the promenade in Yalta, Ukraine on the Black Sea. I took a great photo of him through the golden arches of the new McDonalds 50 metres away.