Leaked flight information shows how the family of Belarus’s ruthless president Alexander Lukashenko lived in Europe, from birthday trips to Michelin-starred restaurants in France, skiing in Austria and sunbathing in Italy.
Meanwhile, jailed opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova is in intensive care at a Belarusian hospital, her relatives said on Wednesday (November 30).
He is one of thousands of victims of Lukashenko’s crackdown on those who refused his bogus re-election in 2020, a horror show that risks being forgotten amid the daily headlines of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Lukashenko himself and his two adult sons, Dmitry and Viktor, as well as Viktor’s wife, Liliya, are all on the European Union’s visa ban and asset freeze list.
But the president’s youngest son Kolya (a student), Dmitry’s wife Anna Lukashenko and several minor relatives are not on the blacklist.
As Anna’s tyrannical father-in-law continues to wreak havoc on people like Kolesnikova, the leaked flight footage shows the luxury the ruling clan likes to enjoy in the heart of Europe when given the chance.
For example, in January 2018, Anna, her sister and their family flew to the French Alps for 11 days and posted a photo at a Michelin-starred and two-star restaurant in Val. -Dinner with desserts such as d’Isère and frog’s legs in horseradish costs €400 per person.
In 2017, Anna went skiing with her family in Innsbruck (Austria), celebrated her birthday in Cagliari (Italy) for 25 days on a private jet, and visited the five-star Banana Island Resort in Doha.
Flight data spanning 2011-2019 was obtained by Belarusian hacker activists Cyber Guerrillas and published by an exiled journalists’ group called the Belarusian Investigative Center.
The Belarusian Investigative Center notes that travel expenses for 2017 and 2018 alone will be at least 480,000 euros, which exceeds the joint income of 80,000 euros declared by Anna and her husband, which is a clear indication of regime corruption.
It is unclear what Anna is up to these days and whether she or her entourage are still using EU travel discounts.
However, records show that in 2018 and 2020, he worked for the BelAZ trading house, which sells Belarusian trucks and car parts to Russia.
Her husband, Dmitriy, is the chairman of the state public association, a sports club named after the president, described in EU sanctions documents as a front for the Lukashenko family’s business interests.
Anna’s sister and brother-in-law (Tatyana Kulakova and Volodymyr Kulakov) are also in the family firm.
Tatyana, who has been vacationing in the EU with Anna, works for a state-funded television production company, while Volodymyr manages the Tennis Club of Dmitry Lukashenko’s sports empire.
Tatiana also owns a small chain of clothing stores, one of which is located in the same shopping center as Lilia Lukashenko’s art gallery in Minsk.
Meanwhile, Anna’s trips to EU cities over the years include Barcelona, Ljubljana, Frankfurt, Munich, Pisa, Thessaloniki and Vienna, according to flight data.
Also, some trips highlighted the Lukashenko family’s business connections in Europe.
For example, in 2017, Anna and her husband Dmitry traveled to Minsk for their birthday in Cagliari and flew home with Zivorad Smilkovic, a Slovenian businessman from the Ljubljana-based company Rico, which won a multimillion-dollar construction contract in Belarus.
In 2019, Smilkovich also flew from Zion (Switzerland) to the capital of Belarus together with Lukashenko’s closest relatives.
But not all of the dictator’s associates are so lucky.
Belarusian activists discovered in 2021 that Lukashenko’s presidential plane, a VIP model of Boeing-767, has a golden toilet.
But when Lukashenko visited Yerevan last week, his longtime foreign minister, Viktor Makai, arrived home by plane in minus 60 degrees Celsius and no more than 10 degrees Celsius.
Makai can be seen rubbing his cold, anxious hands during an interview with CTV.by a week before his sudden death on November 26.
The EU last updated its sanctions on Belarus in March, including economic measures for “Belarus’ role in Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.”
His previous sanctions included those who “perpetrated unacceptable violence against peaceful protesters” and those “closely connected to a number of prominent companies that benefited from the Lukashenko regime.”
Bleeding from the nose
“Existing sanctions against Belarus are regularly reviewed in light of developments on the ground,” a spokesman for the EU’s foreign service said when asked if it would be blacklisted again.
The Belarusian opposition in exile in Estonia also distributed a document to EU diplomats calling for “more damaging economic sanctions” and “finding and freezing Lukashenko’s family and his wallet”.
But in truth, not much is happening in Brussels about Lukashenko.
“No suggestion [for more Belarus sanctions] on the table. We are talking about further Russian sanctions, but nothing about Belarus,” said an EU diplomat.
Another EU source said: “Even the new Russian sanctions are moving forward like a slow nosebleed from exhaustion. It’s reprehensible given the level of suffering for ordinary people.”
The EU embassy in Minsk has been making inquiries about the health of jailed opposition leader Kolesnikova in what the source called “quiet diplomacy”.
Asked what would happen in Belarus to trigger the next EU action, the source added: “People there can’t breathe, so let’s pray that something happens.”
But if there is another round, it could target the remaining “flowers” of the regime’s clan, bypassing them, and imposing sanctions on propagandists and law enforcement officials, the EU source added.
Kolya, Lukashenko’s student son, “would never be targeted because of his youth unless he committed a particularly serious crime personally,” the source said.
“But Anna is [Lukashenko] It’s still flying happily around the EU, so we have to keep an eye on it,” the source added.