An article with extracts from Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s interview about journalist Iryna Khalip has disappeared from the website of the Evening Standard newspaper (the UK). The presidential press service claims the Belarusian dictator didn’t give an interview to Oliver Poole, the Standard’s journalist.
A message “Sorry… We have been unable to access the page you are looking for. The page may have been moved or deleted” appears if one tries to open the page with the article, TUT.by reports.
It should be reminded that the article titled “Europe’s last dictator agrees to free reporter after plea by Standard” contained Lukashenka’s shocking confessions regarding the possible release of Iryna Khalip, a Novaya Gazeta’s correspondent and wife of ex-candidate for Belarusian presidency Andrei Sannikov. Lukashenka said in an interview with Standard’s correspondent Oliver Poole that he was ready to free Khalip: “Is she here? I thought she was in Moscow. Send her there today with the evening horse. Take her away and never bring her here again. I can’t talk about this person at all. Never use this word in vain. You want her in Moscow – take her there,” Novaya Gazeta quotes Lukashenka with a link to the British newspaper.
He then addressed his aide: “Specify, who is responsible for that – someone from police or someone else, and tell me. <…> You see, a dictatorship is also good. Not a single president would make a decision immediately, but I just did. <…> You’ll take Khalip home instead of a wife today.”
The article also contained the footage of the interview.
Lukashenka’s press service, however, says Alyaksandr Lukashenka has never given an interview to journalist Oliver Poole from the Evening Standard.
“There was neither Oliver Poole nor the Evening Standard,” spokesman Pavel Lyohki said.
The Evening Standard and the Independent are owned by Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev. He bought the controlling stake in the Evening Standard in 2009 for a symbolic sum of £1. He paid the same price for the Independent in 2010. Alexander Lebedev also owns a 39% stake in Novaya Gazeta.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka was interviewed by the Independent and the BBC on October 9. Some extracts from the conversation were shown on Belarusian television, but the full interview has not been released yet. The head of state was reported to have talked to newspaper’s owner Alexander Lebedev.