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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bankrupt President

"I promised to take the people away from the edge of the abyss, save Belarus from an economic collapse and political chaos."

Alexander Lukashenko's campaign platform.

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My fellow Belarussian citizens! Read carefully Alexander Lukashenko's campaign platform and decide, from your heart, whether he has carried out his past promises. At the same time, remember how he keeps saying: "Together with you, we …"

It turns out that it was together with us that "they" — Lukashenko, president of Belarus, head of the legislative, executive and judiciary branches, who like Comrade Stalin can be referred to as "the best friend" of factory and state farm directors, workers and peasants, teachers and athletes, scientists and doctors, members of trade unions and political parties, children and pensioners, soldiers etc., etc. — "accomplished much of what could be done in this short period of time." Seven years, that is.

It turns out that together with us, "they" have kept our national property safe from us taking it into our own hands and beginning to live as in civilized Europe. It turns out that together with us, "they" have "built a truly independent and sovereign state" — in fact so independent that nothing in it depends on us and nobody in the civilized world wants to talk to "them."

Even "their" (it seems to be improper now to say "his") official statistics have to admit that we have not only failed to reach the 1990 level (by any economic parameter), but are thrown back 30 or 40 years. In agriculture, we are about 50 years behind and in the number of dairy cattle and pigs — 85 years behind.

According to the official statistics, the purchasing power of an average salary in 1993, which "they" describe as the low point of the state's crisis, was 85.5 percent of the 1990 figures, or 229 rubles at their 1990 value.

After the first year of "their" rule the purchasing power of an average monthly wage dropped to 140 rubles at 1990 value, and in July this year it constituted 82 1990 rubles, or 30 percent of the average salary in 1990. Belaruski Chas weekly published these figures several times, and the government never denied it.

Now let's do the math. The National Bank's exchange rate in 1990 was 1.67 rubles per U.S. dollar. That means that the average salary in 1990 equaled $160.50 According to the same logic, it was $137.20 in 1993, $83.70 in 1994 and in July this year it reached the level of $48, if you use the 1990 exchange rate. In the meantime, the government says that the average salary in the country equals a much-desired $100.

This gives us every reason to say that, taking into account the decline of industrial and agricultural output, the real exchange rate in Belarus is two times higher than the official exchange rate. This boil will either burst by itself — and then we will face a catastrophe — or it has to be removed surgically.

After seven years of President Lukashenko's rule, we have ended up with a complete collapse of the country's financial system. Discounting for the redenomination, we have 206,000 (two hundred and six thousand!) percent inflation from January 1994 to August 2001.

That is why "they" are unable to answer a simple question: If "they" assured us in May of this year that the country has outdone 1990 figures in all economic parameters, why did the wages drop so low?

"They" have no options other than to stand in the dead end to which "they" have led themselves and us, with our obedient consent, and lie. Are we silent? So they joyfully announce that everything "they" have accomplished was done "together with us." Together with me, with you, with others. You agree? I don't.

During seven years, the country has failed, collapsed and become paralyzed. I repeat: all these data were taken from official, non-classified sources.

Now tell me: How can one speak of any guarantees for the Belarussian people based on such an economic swamp? What are these guarantees going to be made of? Air?

In order to assess a document, you don't always have to analyze all of it. One paragraph is sometimes enough.

Here is a quote from Lukashenko's platform: "People who suffered from the Chernobyl catastrophe have been well cared for by the president during all these years. It will remain so in the future. Chernobyl is the pain and the heavy cross for our people to bear."

In this passage, only the words about Chernobyl being the pain and the cross of Belarus are true. All the rest is a lie.

In 1990, 22 percent of the budget, or almost $2 billion, was allocated for the "liquidation of the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster." In 2000, it was 1.7 percent of the state budget, or $30 million. Today, the entire state budget is less than what was spent on Chernobyl in 1990. That also shows Lukashenko's work. The collapse of the budget is the collapse and the shame of the state.

The president has indeed cared well for the Chernobyl victims, just like he has for the Belarussian people. He put up the barricades and sentenced the nation to die out.

Why? Because during all these years, Lukashenko has worked not together with us, but against us. He has betrayed the people who believed in him and trusted him to be the first president. Yes, indeed he has done a lot. Well, let us entrust him with doing still more.

Alexander Yegorov is a commentator with Minsk weekly Belaruski Chas, to which he contributed this comment.