The media manipulator who banned clapping in the streets

WHILE technically heading an authoritarian state, the “last dictator of Europe”, Alexander Lukashenko, keeps a tight rein on the Belarussian population – echoing the “real” dictators ousted from behind the Iron Curtain more than 20 years ago.

Self-styled as a “man of the people”, the hype surrounding Lukashenko’s personality and nostalgic view of Soviet times has been dubbed “Lukashism” by his critics. His supporters refer to him as “Bat’ka”, meaning “father”.

In 2005, the president ordered Belarussian radio stations to reduce airtime given to foreign music to a maximum of 20 per cent after heavy criticism of his regime from western countries – while any Belarussian musicians who have shown support for opposition politicians are entirely banned from broadcast. Internet use has been monitored since last July.

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He recently unveiled plans to ban clapping on the streets in Belarus, after protesters, inspired by the Arab Spring, demonstrated their opposition to the Belarussian leader and his regime by clapping their hands.