‘You can choke on those sanctions’ Lukashenko holds a press conference on the anniversary of Belarus’s contested presidential vote

Nikolai Petrov / BELTA / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

On August 9, the anniversary of Belarus’s contested presidential election, Alexander Lukashenko held a press conference that lasted for more than eight hours. Responding to questions from journalists, the Belarusian dictator downplayed the scale of the opposition demonstrations that erupted last year, denied evidence that Belarusian police tortured protesters in custody, and said the UK could “choke” on its latest package of sanctions against Belarus. Lukashenko also said that he’s going to step down “very soon.” Meduza summarizes Lukashenko’s statements here.

It was a difficult year, but we won’t kneel. The presidential elections took place with complete transparency. I didn’t have time for an election campaign: I had to save people from the coronavirus. Not one of the rallies after the elections was peaceful. At its peak, 46,700 people took part in the protests. I would have used the army if the protesters crossed a red line. The West unleashed a massacre. The Okrestina Street detention center isn’t a sanatorium, but no one was tortured there. You won’t scare me with an international tribunal. There wasn’t large-scale betrayal at state enterprises. When I met with the oppositionists at the pre-trial detention center, I told them: “It’s a good thing you didn’t come to power.” If we had shown weakness during the protests, it would have started a new world war, because Russia would never lose Belarus. The FSB and KGB work in close contact. Roman Protasevich’s detention was “ordered” by Poland and Lithuania and now I have to protect him. [Belarusian sprinter] Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was controlled by her buddies from Poland. We will recognize Crimea as part of Russia when the last Russian oligarch starts shipping his products there. Setting up a Russian military base in Belarus isn’t profitable, but if necessary all of Russia’s armed forces will be deployed here. The UK sanctions? “You can choke on those sanctions, you are American lapdogs!” There never have been and never will be repressions in Belarus. I am rooted in this country and it is rooted in me. There’s no need to make guesses about when Lukashenko is going to step down. It will be very soon. And pray to God that I agree to head the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly. 

This is a rough summary of Alexander Lukashenko’s statements during his press conference on August 9, 2021. You can watch the full press conference here. Phrases written in the first person aren’t necessarily verbatim quotes.

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Summary by Olga Korelina

Translation by Eilish Hart

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