Who is he?:
President of Belarus and overseer of what many call the last dictatorship in Europe. Former director of a collective farm in the Soviet Union and the only politician in the Belarusian parliament to vote against the dissolution of the Soviet bloc. Won office in 1994 and has held onto the position ever since with authoritarian measures and removing term limits for the presidency.
Aug. 30 or 31, 1954, in Kopys, a city in the northern Vitebsk region of Belarus. Grew up fatherless and raised by his mother. He graduated from the Mogilev Pedagogical Institute (now Mogilev State A.Kuleshov University) in 1975 and the Belarussian Agricultural Academy in 1985.
In 1975, Lukashenko married his high-school sweetheart, Galina Rodionovna. They had two children: Viktor, born in 1975, and Dmitry, born in 1980. Viktor works as an aide to his father, but Lukashenko is said to considered his "heir" to be an illegitimate son, Nikolai, born around 2005; the mother is allegedly Irina Abelskaya, his physician. His wife has been estranged since the beginning of his presidency, living as a milkmaid on a remote farm near Shklov while the official presidential biography omits any mention of her. Lukashenko is said to take a keen interest in his country's beauty contests; the women are kept from competing beyond the country's borders.
Lukashenko was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union until Belarus and the other Soviet states became independent. He functioned as an independent politically until the formation of Belaya Rus, which is similar to the United Russia political association. Lukashenko is a communist and a statist, and has proudly admitted to being an authoritarian: "An authoritarian style of rule is characteristic of me, and I have always admitted it," he said in August 2003. "You need to control the country, and the main thing is not to ruin people's lives."
He has military experience as a young man in the Soviet Army, after which he became the deputy chairman of a collective farm. He was elected as a deputy in the Supreme Council of the Republic of Belarus in 1990, where he supported efforts of hardliners to oust reformist Soviet Mikhail Gorbachev. He led the parliament's anti-corruption committee in 1993 and ran for president on a populist platform in the 1994 elections. Soon after, he would push a new constitution, despite the protest of dozens of members of parliament who called for his impeachment, that basically granted Lukashenko a legal dictatorship.
Lukashenko unabashedly rules with an iron fist in an effort to beat back any attempts to establish democracy and freedom as have won the day in other post-Soviet states. This includes adapting Soviet-era dissident crackdowns to the modern era of social media and technology. "While Belarus sinks into political isolation and an economic slump, President Lukashenko’s regime has been strenghtening its grip on the Web. The Internet – a mobilization and information platform – has received the full brunt of the authorities’ brutal crackdown on the opposition," Reporters Without Borders writes of the country. The government uses the web for intimidation as well as monitoring it. Peaceful anti-regime protests are brutally repressed and journalists wind up missing or deceased. In a post-Arab Spring world, it's not known how long the eccentric Lukashenko can keep his iron grip on power. He has support from regimes such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and he shows deference to the Kremlin, which has been tightening up basic freedoms under the Putin era in Russia.
"To safeguard the citizens’ safety, to ensure social justice and public order, not to allow expansion of crime and corruption is indeed the role of the state. Only the strong authority managed to drag the Belorussian economy out of the economic abyss. Our nearest neighbors have in the long run realized that, if there is no strong hierarchy of authority, liberalization of the economy in the transition period brings about social instability and legal unheard-of disorder. It results in public unruliness!"