Alexander Lukashenko: "Europe's last dictator"

By Andrew Osborn, Moscow

After a decade in power, he altered the Belarussian constitution in a dubious referendum in order to allow himself to serve a limitless number of back-to-back presidential terms.

None of the elections that have kept him in power have been regarded as truly free or fair by international observers and he has repeatedly used brutal force against opposition demonstrators.

His secret service, still known as the KGB from Soviet times, has harried his opponents and helped him maintain Belarus as a Soviet-style police state.

In power since 1994, the 56-year-old father of three likes to be known as "Batka" or "Father" to his people and has a penchant for delivering rambling Castroesque speeches which he is fond of peppering with crude peasant slang.

His biography is unremarkable. He grew up without a father, served in the Soviet army, and then went into farm management before emerging as a fiery politician after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.


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