Lukashenka has (not) been holding on to his chair for almost 28 years/collage by Ulad Rubanau
In 2022, it will be 28 years of Alyaksandr Lukashenka's presidency. During this time, he has repeatedly stated that he "was not clinging to his chair with bluish fingers."
Here are Lukashenka's quotes about how he's had enough of power.
One of the earliest statements dates back to 2002:
"I've been president for eight years. Believe me, I've had enough so much of power that you couldn't even dream of".
A year later, he would state the following:
"I very often start making excuses, even to high-ranking officials of Russia. I tell them the following: my dears, and I am fed up with power, I don't need the Monomakh cap, I don't come to the Kremlin to grab some wall and take it to Belarus, I have no pretensions to any powers on the territory of Russia.
Lukashenka was so fed up with power by then that he would hold a referendum as early as next year: amendments to the Constitution would allow him to be elected an unlimited number of times.
The thesis that Lukashenka hasn't taken a swing at the Kremlin will be repeated in 2005. "Fed up with power" comes as a bonus:
"And it's not about "sharing power." I've had enough of power. In the ten years of my presidency, I can't get any further. This is used to criticize me: "Lukashenka took a swing at the Kremlin. I've had enough of "that Kremlin" in Minsk."
In 2008, the phrase "I have had enough of power" had a rival: "I do not hold on to power with two hands":
"I'm not going to convince you that I won't hold on to power with both hands. Because you may or may not believe that. Time is the chief judge".
But in 2009, "overeating" is back:
"I want to be frank: Lukashenka has had enough of power, he has had enough of it, and the question is why I am trying to keep it. I have always had one aim: to preserve the sovereignty and independence of our country".
In 2010, he said that his sons were not running for his position:
"I am telling you frankly and sincerely. I don't want my children to be the president of Belarus. I don't want it. I've had enough, and my children have had enough of this presidency because of me".
In 2019, after almost two more terms in power, the power was too much:
"I declare publicly: I have been President longer than one term; I have had enough of this presidency. So to ruin the country in the name of personal ambition (someone else's and my own) - I will never do it. It means crossing out everything I've been doing for more than two decades, so you need to calm down in this respect. I'm not going to prolong my political life at the expense of some political twists or configurations or this transit from you to me. Absolutely not. And besides, I'm a very inward-focused man: if you don't vote for me tomorrow, I'll worry about it quietly, I won't cry anywhere, and I won't shout at anyone. I've been President for quite a while now, and I've had enough of it".
That same year, during the parliamentary elections, he mentioned "blue fingers" for the first time:
"If the public doesn't like the way the President manages things, they'll re-elect him in six months. Rest assured: I will not hold on to this chair with my blue fingers if you refuse to trust me.
In July 2020, already during the presidential campaign, Lukashenka made a combo of "fed up" and "blue fingers":
"I'm already full. I've had enough of this presidential life, and I'm not in this presidential campaign because I'm clinging to this chair with blue fingers; I've given the best years of my life to build this country like many of you. I built it as best I could".
In October 2020, already after the elections, he wanted to know what we would do without him:
"As for the President of Belarus, he is not holding on to the power with his blue hands, as he said many times. The question is not about me, and the question is about you: what will happen to you without me?"
At the end of 2021, while discussing the future referendum, he gets fed up with power and the Constitution.
"Society demands change. That is why we need a new Constitution - not because Lukashenka needs this Constitution... Look, Lukashenka has had enough of these Constitutions, power, and everything else. Now the question is not about Lukashenka. It's the question of maintaining stability in our country".
The mood of the current state machine, and then the situation in Belarus, may change since Lukashenka is not going to leave power until death. Independent analyst Syarhei Chaly believes that Lukashenka became more sure of this intention after the events in Kazakhstan. Although the rhetoric after the elections in 2020 was quite different:
"Lukashenka not only promised his departure outside, but he also promised it inside the country to a large number of people who still have to stay in their jobs up to the top. That was the point of this deal with the devil: "Just bear with me a little longer," he told them. "This term is definitely the last one," the round-table Democrat told them, explaining this Constitution. We see that it's not - no way: it's about something else. It's about "I want to be forever." And that's the problem: the goldfish can only grant wishes up to a certain point, but when you want to become the mistress of the sea, then something breaks, and you go back to the trough".