"Except the portrait in the official's office, you won't see anywhere else a cult of the leader in Belarus", Alexander Lukashenko said in an interview to the radio station Russian News Service.
It is curious, that on December 1 meeting with representatives of creative intellectuals the president also raised the topic of "a personality cult" and even boasted, that he banned to hang his portraits everywhere, except the offices of employees of the power vertical.
Indeed, streets and cities aren't named in honor of the head of state, poems and songs aren't composed, except about the so-called "Batska" (farther) and not about Alexander Lukashenko. You won't also see on the central squares of "the strong and prosperous country" monuments with the president, leading people to a bright sovereign future. So is there "a personality cult" of the president, and whether our country is "the last dictatorship in Europe"?
UDF.BY correspondent discussed this question along with political analyst Alexander Klaskovsky.
- Alexander, what do you think, why the Belarusian president in recent times so often indicates an absence of "a personality cult" and leaderism in our country?
- I think, Lukashenko is trying to throw a switch and replace notions. For his internal and external critics it has become a commonplace to say that Belarus is the tough authoritarian regime, which was named as "Europe's last dictatorship". Not the most flattering definition for the country in the XXI century.
Therefore, Lukashenko not for the first time is repeating the refrain: "Try to find my portraits, monuments of mine", drawing an analogy with Stalin and Brezhnev eras, when external attributes of worshiping leaders were popular.
- But portraits are really much less than in Soviet times.
- It's not the point. Belarusian regime is a personalistic regime. It is known, that Lukashenko remade the 1996 Constitution in order to have more authority, and now we cannot talk about a system of checks and balances, about an existence of democratic institutions.
To talk about the political nature of the regime - a topic is slippery and unpleasant for the president. So he tries to shift the conversation in the area of external attributes. There can be no portraits, monuments and streets, but de facto, all the threads of power in hands of one person, that is a dictatorship in its essence.
- So, is there a cult of Lukashenko's personality in Belarus, or this concept in modern political science, in principle, is not relevant?
- The "cult of personality" is not strictly a notion of political science. Nikita Khrushchev, making a report at the Twentieth CPSU Congress, introduced this term. This is, of course, an euphemism, because while subverting Stalin, Khrushchev could not encroach on the basis of Marxist-Leninist theory, and therefore it was such a primitive, almost a primordial notion as the cult ... The nature of Lukashenka's and Stalin's regimes are common. Era changes, and the means also change, by which the leader or ruler appears before the eyes of his subjects.
- What means are used now?
- Previously, there was no television and it was needed to hang a portrait of the leader in each house. Now, on television, which many call as "a zombie-box", is one person for 17 years. It is by several times more effective, than a thousand portraits and hundreds of monuments. So, the official Belarusian leader shows false modesty, saying that in Belarus there is no cult of personality.