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President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus has said he does not have the resources to be a dictator, although he has admitted he may be an authoritarian leader. He has denied gagging opponents, but dismissed the opposition as what he called the “fifth column” financed from abroad.

In an interview with the Russian TV channel Russia Today, recorded on March 15 and broadcast this week, the president denied reports that he was grooming his son or anyone else as a leader-in-waiting:

“To be honest, I never think in these terms. I swore that I will never hand over power to my relatives, to my in-laws or children. It’s out of the question,” he said.

Lukashenko denied being aware of the German foreign minister’s sexual orientation when he said he would rather be a dictator than gay in what was seen as a scornful comment about Guido Westerwelle.

But there was little sign of remorse: “I forgive women for their lesbianism,” he said. “But I will never in my lifetime forgive men for being gay… A woman becomes a lesbian only if we men are so wretched.”

The Belarussian president, who is banned from travelling in the EU over alleged human rights abuses, praised the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez for inspiring other left wing leaders in Latin America. Lukashenko recently visited Caracas for the funeral.

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