Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has claimed that Jews caused the world “to kneel” to them.
The authoritarian leader made the remarks in a speech Saturday for Belarusian independence day, which marks Soviet forces’ liberation of the capital Minsk from the Nazis in 1944.
“The Jews succeeded in causing the entire world to kneel to them and no one will dare raise a voice and deny the Holocaust,” Lukashenko said, quoted by Israel’s Kan public broadcaster.
According to a separate translation Monday by the Ynet news site, Lukashenko said, “The Jews succeeded in proving to everyone that they went through the Holocaust and the entire world kneels before them.”
Referring to Nazi German actions during the occupation of the Eastern European territory during World War II, Lukashenko said there had been a “Holocaust of the Belarusian people.”
“We are so tolerant, so good, we did not want to offend anyone and we have thus come to being insulted,” he said, according to Ynet.
Kan had a different translation of that remark, which it quoted as coming immediately following Lukashenko’s remarks on Jews.
“On the other hand, the Belarusians, a tolerant nation, allowed their faces to be spit on,” he was reported as saying.
נשיא בלארוס לוקשנקו נאם ביום העצמאות של מדינתו: “היהודים הצליחו לגרום לכל העולם להתרפס בפניהם ואיש היום לא יעז להרים קול ולהכחיש את קיומה של השואה. לעומת זאת, הבלארוסים, אומה סובלנית, איפשרו לירוק בפרצופם”. השבוע שלח הנשיא ריבלין איחולים ללוקשנקו לרגל יום העצמאות@Yoav__Zehavi pic.twitter.com/HIeS3txF2X
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) July 5, 2021
A senior adviser to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled Belarus last year after challenging Lukashenko in a presidential election widely seen as rigged, slammed the Belarusian leader for the comments.
“Lukashenko is demonstrating his incivility, pathological lies and overt antisemitism. This man is trying to nurture in Belarus all the evil that the world is fighting against in the 21st century,” Franak Viacorka told Kan.
The publication of Lukashenko’s comments came after President Reuven Rivlin sent a letter Saturday to congratulate him on Belarus’s national day, apparently becoming one of the few Western heads of state to congratulate the Belarusian leader, who is widely seen as a dictator.
Rivlin’s office said in response to social media criticism that the letter was sent in accordance with Foreign Ministry protocol for the national day of any country that Israel has diplomatic ties with.
שנה של דיכוי מזעזע של זכויות האדם בבלרוס, לא מנעה מנשיא המדינה @PresidentRuvi לפרסם הודעה המברכת את הנשיא לוקשנקו לרגל יום העצמאות שחל אתמול. מבית הנשיא נמסר לשעה הבינלאומית כי האגרת שוגרה על פי הנוהל הנהוג במשרד החוץ בימים לאומיים של מדינות עימן יש קשרים דיפלומטיים. תודה @SBogus pic.twitter.com/54dBTM2Ksp
— ????️???? ערן סיקורל |Eran Cicurel |عيران شيكوريل (@EranCicurel) July 4, 2021
Belarus has been shaken by protests fueled by Lukashenko’s reelection to a sixth term in an August 2020 election that was widely seen as rigged. Authorities responded to the demonstrations with a massive crackdown that saw more than 35,000 people arrested and thousands beaten by police.
Lukashenko, who has ruled the ex-Soviet nation of 9.5 million with an iron fist for 27 years, has repeatedly accused the West of fomenting the protests and harboring plots to oust him.
On Friday, Lukashenko claimed his government thwarted a series of purported Western-backed plots, following a set of new bruising sanctions the EU slapped on Belarus over an incident last month in which fighter planes forced a passenger jet to land in the country to arrest a dissident journalist.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.