MOSCOW, August 4./TASS/. Moscow will always be the closest ally of Minsk no matter who is in power, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in his address to the nation and the parliament ahead of the Sunday’s presidential election, also focusing on the situation across the globe and on the coronavirus pandemic among other issues.
He criticized Russia for opting in favor of ‘partnership’ relations instead of ‘fraternal’ ones. Meanwhile, Russia itself is afraid of ‘losing Belarus’ since it has ‘no truly close allies left,’ the president believes.
He also noted that Belarus had lost an equivalent of about $600 million from an oil row with Russia, and about $9.5 billion dollars from costly loans and unfair prices of energy resources in the past five years.
At the start of his speech, Lukashenko focused on the situation around the globe, deteriorating due to armed conflicts, protests and the destruction of international settlement instruments that were in place during the Cold War period. Military tensions are growing across the globe, which is "gradually but steadily sliding towards an abyss". "It looks like it will be enough to simply light a match to see the globe explode," the president stressed.
Lukashenko specifically dwelt on the coronavirus pandemic, saying that it "has practically become a cover for the main global players to unscrupulously pursue their foreign policy, trade and economic interests". Within this context, the president mentioned a conflict between the US and China. Russia and the European Union are also seeking the leading role in the world, he stressed, adding that certain countries ‘have not had their say as of yet".
Belarus itself has passed the test of the pandemic, and the tactics to fight COVID-19 has proved efficient in the country, Lukashenko stressed. He warned people against believing rumors and yielding to panic in this situation. "And also one must trust the medics and the authorities if you have chosen them," he added.
The presidential election will be held in Belarus on August 9. On Tuesday, an early vote kicked off, which will last until August 8. The Belarusian Central Election Commission decided to register five presidential candidates, including the incumbent president. Two more candidates, Valery Tsepkalo and Viktor Babariko, who is currently under arrest, were denied registration.