REUTERS/Vasily FedosenkoBelarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko (back) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin walk during peace talks in Minsk, February 11, 2015.

Belarus’ president, often referred to as Europe’s last dictator, has just taken a swipe at ally Vladimir Putin in an interview with Bloomberg.

Here’s the snippet:

The pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine shook him and, in an interview, he called on the U.S. to play a central role in the Ukrainian recovery, warned that Belarus wouldn’t become Russia’s “northwestern province” and even poked a finger at Vladimir Putin.

“I’m not Europe’s last dictator anymore,” Lukashenko, 60, said with a chuckle. “There are dictators a bit worse than me, no? I’m the lesser evil already.”

That’s a pretty big claim for a man who tried to stop people moving from the countryside to cities, and effectively bring back serfdom.

Lukashenko is occupying a pretty difficult position — his country has close relations with Russia and is pretty economically dependent on Moscow, but he doesn’t want to come off like a soft touch.

That may be why he told Bloomberg: “Whoever comes to us with a sword will die from a sword. We will fight against Europeans, Americans, Russians, against anybody who will try to conquer this land where Belorussians should live.”

He’s also suggested Belarus could leave Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union, stressing that the bloc must be an economic alliance, not a political union.


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