Belarusian leader Aljaksandr Lukashenka rejected any suggestion to apologize for the police crackdown and widespread arrests of protesters following the controversial elections last year.
In an interview broadcast on CNN on September 30, Lukashenka denied criticism from the media and human rights groups for widespread human rights violations in Belarus.
“No, I don’t want to take this opportunity [to apologize]. If I did, I would do it through Belarusian media. They are pretty good, I hear … And in principle I have nothing to excuse, “said Lukashenka.
Lukashenka was isolated and shunned by much of the international community after gaining his re-election victory in August 2020, sparking unprecedented protests by Belarusians for months.
Read our current coverage when the Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka increased pressure on NGOs and independent media as part of a brutal crackdown on demonstrators and the opposition following what was widely considered to be a fraudulent election in August 2020.
The demonstrations resulted in police brutality, with thousands detained and widespread reports of torture by the police.
In the midst of isolation, Lukashenka has drawn closer to Russia in search of loans and military support from President Vladimir Putin.
When asked about reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch of ill-treatment and torture by police, Lukashenka claimed that Belarus does not have “a single detention center … like Guantanamo or the bases that the United States and the United States have [the United Kingdom] created in Eastern Europe. “
“Our own prisons, in which we hold the accused or those against the investigation, are no worse than in Great Britain or the United States. I can guarantee you that,” said Lukashenka.
Many opposition members from Belarus have been arrested or forced to leave the country.
While Lukashenka speaks regularly to Belarusian state media, he rarely gives interviews with independent or foreign media.
CNN said the full Lukashenka interview will air on October 1.
Lukashenka’s press service meanwhile published another part of the interview on Telegram, in which Lukashenka spoke about the further integration of Belarus and Russia as part of a long-stalled project called the Union State.
Lukashenka rejected the proposal to unite Belarus with Russia as “absolute nonsense” and “a fiction of, as we say here, the collective West”.
“We, together with Putin, the leadership of Russia and Belarus in general, are smart enough to create such a union within two independent, sovereign states that is stronger than any unified formation,” said Lukashenka.