Lukashenko, Aleksandr Grigoryevich

views updated

Aleksandr Grigoryevich Lukashenko (əlyĬksän´dər grĬgôr´yəvĬch lōōkäshĕn´kô), Belarusian Alyaksandr Ryhoravich Lukashenka, 1954–, Belarusian politician, president of Belarus (1994–), b. Kopys. A graduate of the Mogilev Teaching Institute (1975) and Belorussian Agricultural Academy (1985), he managed (1982–90) Soviet state and collective farms and a factory before his election (1990) to the parliament of the Belorussian SSR. In 1994, running as a populist on an anticorruption and antiprivatization platform, he won a landslide victory in the presidential elections. In office Lukashenko doubled the minimum wage, slowed rising prices, advocated close ties with Russia, and opposed market reforms. In 1996 he secured the adoption of a new constitution, which reduced parliamentary authority and increased presidential powers, and the extension of his term as president. Lukashenko, who has been called "Europe's last dictator" because he has restricted dissent and civil rights, squelched political and educational opposition, and been accused of engineering the disappearance of opponents, has largely isolated Belarus from the West. He was reelected in 2001, 2006 (after a constitutional referendum in 2004 ended presidential terms limits), and 2010. All four votes were widely denounced as illegitimate.