Autocratic Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is bringing a special guest with him as he visits Latin American leaders in Cuba, Ecuador, and Venezuela — his 7-year-old son, Kolya. While Lukashenko has two adult-aged sons, it is his youngest son that is most frequently in the public eye, accompanying his father for official visits — including a recent meeting with the Pope — and casting his father’s voting ballot.
At a recent meeting with Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Lukashenko seemed to reveal his plans for Belarus’s future leadership, as reported by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:
"You’re correct in pointing out that my kid is here alongside us. This shows that we have seriously and lastingly established the foundation for our cooperation, and that in 20 to 25 years there will be someone to take over the reins of this cooperation."
Leaders are usually a bit more coy about designating future heirs — especially at Kolya’s age — but subtlety isn’t really Lukashenko’s style.
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.| Passport |