Belarussian President changes his date of birth - Summary

Minsk - Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, 56, has changed his official date of birth to match that of his youngest son, national media reported Wednesday.

His official date of birth will no longer be August 30, but instead August 31 - the birthday of his six-year-old son Nikolai, the president decided.

National news programmes informed surprised citizens of the former Soviet republic about the change.

Lukashenko was born in the Vitebsk province near midnight, and although his birthday was later registered on August 30, he was actually delivered early on the 31st, the Belapan news agency reported, citing an unnamed administration official.

Speaking to a group of reporters in Minsk, Lukashenko denied Nikolai benefited from favouritism, saying his son would go to an "average public school" as he was "a true citizen of the country."

"Nobody has ever even hinted that I got this job (Belarus' president) because of patronage by some one else," said Lukashenko, a former collective farm boss.

"And I went to an average rural (middle) school," Lukashenko said, according to an Interfax report.

Lukashenko, dubbed by critics "Europe's last dictator", has recently included his youngest son in public appearances.

Lukashenko himself said the boy was occasionally sitting on his lap during negotiations.


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