The Polish-based Belarusian opposition news outlet Nexta has published an investigative film about Alyaksandr Lukashenka's "luxurious life."
The film -- titled Lukashenka. Goldmine. -- was published on YouTube on March 8.
The investigative material focuses on Lukashenka's personal expenses and what it describes as Lukashenka's villas, expensive cars, and gifts he allegedly uses for his own personal needs.
The report says Lukashenka has been offering "protection" to corrupt Belarusian and foreign business people. It mentions, in particular, a luxurious residential compound in Krasnoselskoye near Minsk, which Nexta says is a gift from Russian oligarch Mikhail Gutseriyev to Lukashenka in exchange for "protection."
According to the moderator, the film was based on the testimony of several anonymous sources, including a man presented in the film as a former employee of Lukashenka’s administration. Nexta also obtained documents it says back up the claims.
Stsyapan Putsila, the founder of Nexta, told Current Time on March 9 that the documents were not presented in the film at the request of those who provided them. Putsila said that Lukashenka's name was not in any of the obtained documents, adding that Lukashenka’s automobiles, which alone are worth more than 4 million euros ($4.75 million) and include a Maybach and a Rolls-Royce, are officially registered in other names.
Lukashenka, who has been in power since 1994, has said that his "only palace" is a tiny house of less than 60 square meters where he was raised by his mother.
"I did not steal anything from my state, did not take anything," Lukashenka said last week after reports of the film's imminent release were published.
Lukashenka has amended the constitution several times during his authoritarian rule that brought Belarus the unwanted moniker "Europe's last dictatorship."
In August 2020, he was officially pronounced the winner of a presidential election for the sixth time, a development that triggered unprecedented mass protests across the country.
Thousands of Belarusians, including dozens of journalists covering the protests, have been detained by the authorities, some handed prison terms, and hundreds beaten in detention and on the streets.
Several protesters have died in the violence, and some rights organizations say there is credible evidence of torture being used by security officials against some detainees.
On September 23, 2020, Lukashenka held an inauguration ceremony behind closed doors amid public protests, but many EU countries, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada refused to recognize him as Belarus's legitimate president.
The European Union imposed three sets of sanctions against Belarusian authorities, including Lukashenka, over the rigged presidential poll and ongoing violence and police brutality against peaceful protesters.