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Belarus president takes bold anti-freedom stance

The concepts of popular sovereignty and democratic legitimacy are so pervasive in world politics that even the most authoritarian regimes usually give some deference to them. Even North Korea has the word "democratic" in its official name, for instance. So it’s always a bit surprising when a leader just flat out says he doesn’t believe ...

VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/GettyImages
VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/GettyImages

The concepts of popular sovereignty and democratic legitimacy are so pervasive in world politics that even the most authoritarian regimes usually give some deference to them. Even North Korea has the word "democratic" in its official name, for instance. So it’s always a bit surprising when a leader just flat out says he doesn’t believe in freedom. RFE/RL reports

 In his annual state of the nation address, Lukashenka said that Belarus has no use for revolutionary activities which "lead to chaos and bloodshed."

He added, "The great Dostoevsky wrote that there is nothing more unbearable for a person than freedom. And of course he was right."

The actual quote, said by the Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov, is "Didst thou forget that man prefers peace, and even death, to freedom of choice in the knowledge of good and evil? Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of conscience, but nothing is a greater cause of suffering." 

There’s a lot to think about in that, but it’s not exactly a strategy for governance. 

In the March/April issue of FP, Thomas De Waal discussed what Gogol, Chekhov and Dostoyevsky can explain about the post-Soviet world. 

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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