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Viktor Lukashenko

Viktor LukashenkoViktor (Vitya) Lukashenko is President Aleksandr Lukashenko's oldest son, national security advisor, and possible successor. On 12 April 2007, Lukashenko stated that he planned to remain president for the foreseeable future. He denied categorically any plan to designate his eldest son Viktor, currently on the State Security Council, as his successor. He labeled his eldest son as too weak to take over his father's position. Lukashenko also denied that he was preparing his second son, Dmitry, to become president.

He did say that he might prepare a "third son" for the presidency. Lukashenko was referring to the young son he had with a mistress. Kolya, short for Nikolai, is the youngest of the president's three sons. It has been widely reported in Western media that he was born in 2004 as a result of an extra-marital affair between the president and his personal doctor.

According to open-source information in Belarus, Viktor Lukashenko was born in 1976. After studying international relations at Belarus State University in Minsk, he served in the border troops as a lieutenant, and was later a third secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before becoming head of the foreign economic department of the military-industrial firm "Agat." He has been his father's national security advisor since 2005, was made a member of the Security Council of the Republic of Belarus in 2007, and more recently has been given the title of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Viktor is married -- reportedly to his "high school sweetheart" -- and has one daughter.

It is said that while Alexander Lukashenko feared losing power, he was contemplating the installation of his son Viktor as president. For such a succession to be possible, Lukashenko must start building his oldest son's political credibility. The first stage in such a plan could be Viktor's emergence as a power player in parliament. Lukashenko's inner circle would accept a managed transition with limited political and economic changes. Even if Viktor forced some insiders to leave power, they have amassed enough wealth to retire comfortably.

Formally the president's National Security Advisor, by many accounts Viktor Lukashenko is also de facto Head of Presidential Security. Viktor personally commanded units involved in the 24 March 2006 dismantling of the protest tent city and the March 25 crackdown on a peaceful march. In both cases police under Viktor's direct command beat a number of pro-democracy activists. For instance, on March 24, OMON commander Yury Podobed could be heard on tape telling his troops not to mistreat detainees. However, numerous detainees reported to human rights groups that they were beaten and abused by Presidential Security troops under Viktor Lukashenko's command.

Viktor also reportedly holds a position on the Security Council, which includes supervision over SOBR, Almaz, Presidential Security and the BKGB. These units were all used to arrest and beat peaceful pro-democracy activists. Viktor held a senior position in the State Military Industrial Committee, where he was reportedly responsible for clandestine arms transfers to the Middle East.

Viktor Lukashenko is widely credited -- or despised -- for establishing the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM), a pro-Lukashenko re-creation of the Komsomol. Whatever its shortcomings from the regime's perspective, the BRSM brand easily outstrips that of any other social organization in Belarus for name recognition. The youth-oriented BRSM sees its main task as convincing students how good they have it.

Lukashenko's eldest son Viktor and former "presidential candidate" Sergey Gaidukevich are, for business purposes, very close. Viktor, who held the rank of Colonel but had the power of a Major General, is rumored to be the principal official in charge of Belarus' weapons trade. During the 2006 elections, President Lukashenko and his cabinet were angry with Gaidukevich for his laziness and failure to steal the desirable number of votes from the opposition. But now Gaidukevich is one of the most protected and untouchable men in Belarus. Gaidukevich is laundering Viktor's weapons-trade money through channels in Europe. It is widely speculated that Velcom is part of the money laundering system. Viktor Lukashenko in 2005 was briefly appointed deputy director general of the Government-created cell phone company, BeST, which has monopolized all Belarus' mobile networks, including Velcom (despite his complete lack of experience in the field).

On 10 January 2007, independent media reported that President Lukashenko appointed his son Viktor as a member of Belarus' Security Council through a January 5 presidential edict. Although Belarus' Civil Service Law bans immediate relatives from being appointed to a government position if this position is directly subordinated to another immediate relative, Prosecutor General Pyotr Miklashevich told reporters in 2006 that he did not see any breach of laws in the appointment of Viktor Lukashenko as a presidential aide.

Several important groups favor improved relations with the West to ward off increasing Russian influence. Viktor Lukashenko [President Alexander Lukashenko's son] and his supporters understand that just like democratic reforms, any real movement toward union with Russia would strip them of their privileged position. As of 2006 it was said that Belarusian business and financial elites such as Yuriy Chizh and Aleksey Vaganov understood that they cannot compete against Russian business in open privatizations. In non-transparent deals they could use their connections with European partners to buy up property. Prime Minister Sergey Sidorskiy, his first deputy Vladimir Semashko and others in the Council of Ministers such as Energy Minister Aleksandr Ozerets feared losing influence.




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