Alexander LukashenkoPolitical Figure
Born: 30 August 1954
Birthplace: Kopys, B.S.S.R., U.S.S.R. (now Belarus)
Best known as: President of Belarus, 1994-present
Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko has been the president of Belarus since 1994. Lukashenko is a controversial figure whose supporters say has kept the country from chaos, but whose critics say uses ruthless methods to maintain power. Lukashenko attended Mogilev State University in the 1970s and the Belorussian Agricultural Academy in the 1980s, and served in the Soviet Army. In the late '80s he managed a collective farm, and in 1990 he was elected to the parliament. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Lukashenko made a name for himself fighting the corruption of the old regime, and on 10 July 1994 he was elected to his first term as president. Since coming to power, Lukashenko has governed with what he calls an "authoritative style," and political opposition has been kept subdued by the state-run media and the secret police (still called the KGB, the name being a holdover from the Soviet Union). A 2004 referendum supported by Lukashenko abolished the constitutional limit to presidential terms, and in March 2006 he was elected to his third term in a lopsided victory that had critics crying foul. Despite continued complaints from political opponents and western powers, Lukashenko was elected to a fourth term in 2010.
Extra credit: Lukashenko was born in the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (B.S.S.R.), which was part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (U.S.S.R. or Soviet Union)... Lukashenko has isolated Belarus from the west and earned rebukes from the United Nations, but has maintained friendly ties with Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation... Lukashenko has been accused by the U.N. of blocking investigations into the disappearances of political opponents and journalists.
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