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Following his annual state-of-the-union address yesterday, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenko said to Semyon Shapiro, the governor of Minsk: “I asked you a year ago to take all Jews in Belarus under control.”
But the Belarusian “Jews” Lukashenko spoke of, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, is actually a reference to only one man—Yury Ziser, the Jewish owner of the largest Internet service provider in Belarus, including the website, tut.by.
Lukashenko’s remarks were reportedly part of a larger verbal attack on Ziser, in which he also told Shapiro, “We have not been able to normalize that man.”
The president also said that Ziser was not behaving correctly.
Ziser said he did not understand how it was possible to “normalize” Jews.
Lukashenko then poked fun at Shapiro by saying that his Jewish faith had brought rain to Minsk.
“Shapiro prayed in the synagogue,” he said. “There was rain only in Minsk region.”
In his address, Lukashenko, the President of Belarus since 1994, said his country “remains an island of stability and order” even though the tension between countries in Europe is the “same as during the Cold War.”
But Lukashenko also praised Jews for resisting Nazi occupation during World War II, Reuters reported, describing them as “white boned.” He also said, “Semyon Borisovich (Shapiro) is a good guy.”
Then he added: “[Jews] don’t like to get their hands dirty or fight, but they did get their hands dirty with us!”
In 2007, Lukashenko said that Jews had turned the city of Bobruisk turned into a “pigsty.”
As of 2009, some 13,300 Jews live in Belarus in a population of 9.5 million.