The president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko rejected on Thursday the characterization that he was “Europe’s last dictator”, saying that he wasn’t a dictator but that if he was, he certainly wouldn’t be the last.

Lukashenko, 68, has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994 and in an interview with Reuters in 2012 indicated he relished the reputation of Europe’s last dictator.

When asked by Reuters on Thursday what he thought of the description and whether he was concerned about what might happen to Belarus after his rule, Lukashenko said that the journalist should apologize for such a question.
“As for the last dictator of Europe, you should apologize to me today,” Lukashenko told reporters at a meeting at Belarus’ Independence Palace. “I am not a dictator and if I am a dictator, then I am not the last.

“Power is not given to roll in the dirt,” Lukashenko said. “I do not decide whether or not I am in power… The people entrusted me with this high office”.

Lukashenko’s opponents, most of whom now live abroad, say he is winning the election by fraud and has handed over sovereignty of Belarus to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Lukashenko refers to as his “elder brother”.

Lukashenko and his supporters deny the charge and they say the vast majority of voters support him because he guided Belarus through the turbulent years after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

He said there were fewer than 22,000 prisoners in Belarus, down from 50,000 when he took office nearly 29 years ago. “I guess I’m not a very strong dictator,” he quipped.


But Lukashenko said that when he thought to live out the rest of his life away from power “really troubled him,” the fate of his country.

“Sometimes I ask myself this question, but then another one stops me: what will happen in the future?” he said. “I don’t think I’m necessary, but what if a new person ruins everything?» «I think about what will happen in the future, what will happen after me?» Lukashenko said.

Lately there have been rumors that Lukashenko is facing a health problem after he was pictured being helped out of an event during the May 9 Victory Day celebrations in Moscow and then did not attend a lunch hosted by Putin