Who's that boy in the grey suit? It's Kolya Lukashenko - the next dictator of Belarus...

Seven-year-old, illigitimate son named by Lukashenko as leader in waiting

Moscow

The next President of Belarus already has plenty of experience of the trappings of high office, having overseen military parades, sat in on Cabinet meetings, and met several world leaders when he accompanies his father, the current president Alexander Lukashenko, on trips abroad.

But there is something unusual about the nomination of Kolya Lukashenko as the nation's leader-in-waiting – he is seven years old.

Mr Lukashenko has two adult sons, but is estranged from his wife, who it is believed now lives on a cattle farm in rural Belarus. Nikolai, or Kolya for short, was born much later, and the identity of his mother has never been made public.

The child first appeared in public around four years ago, and now sits in on almost all state occasions. He can be spotted strutting around at major military events holding a golden pistol, with generals of the army obliged to salute the infant, and is also now a fixture on his father's infrequent foreign trips.

Mr Lukashenko made the announcement about Kolya's potential succession during a trip to Venezuela this week, where the pair were given a lavish welcome by President Hugo Chavez. "You're correct in pointing out that my kid is here alongside us," said Mr Lukashenko. "This shows that we have seriously and lastingly established the foundation for our cooperation, and that in 20 to 25 years there will be someone to take over the reins of this co-operation."

Kolya, with his blond hair crafted into a nascent mullet, wore a shiny grey suit and tie, and stood up straight while the two presidents spoke, but declined Mr Chavez's offer to make a speech.

"Venezuela is full of joy, decked out to welcome our brother president," Mr Chavez said to Mr Lukashenko. "Over the years we have not only built a true strategic alliance, but a sense of brotherhood."

Mr Lukashenko, who was famously called "the last dictator in Europe", is not welcome in most European capitals and has cultivated alliances with a number of states that oppose US influence in the world, notably Venezuela, Syria, and the Libya of Muammar Gaddafi. He has also visited Cuba and Ecuador on this trip, during which a number of trade and partnership agreements were signed.

"We will… talk about new projects to spite our foes and enemies, no one will stop us on this path," replied Mr Lukashenko in Caracas. "That's my answer to everyone who has doubts about what we are doing… Our state will do anything that my friend Chavez asks for."

Mr Lukashenko has been president of the former Soviet country since 1994, and most recently won re-election in late 2010, in a vote that most observers said was rigged.

In the aftermath, his riot police crushed demonstrations, and most of the people who stood against him were locked up. His main challenger, Andrei Sannikov, was only recently released from prison.

Mr Lukashenko has complained that his country suffered from a "nauseating surfeit of democracy". Mr Chavez has run Venezuela since 1999, and despite a recent battle with cancer he is standing for re-election in October.

Mr Lukashenko will continue his foreign travels at the weekend, when he is due in neighbouring Ukraine for the final of Euro 2012. No European leaders have confirmed their attendance in Kiev, save the President of Poland, which has co-hosted the tournament. European politicians have stayed away from Ukraine in protest at the jailing of the Ukrainian opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko.

If Mr Lukashenko is the only visiting president in the VIP box at Sunday's final, it could be an embarrassing image for Ukraine's President, Viktor Yanukovych.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Sport
David Silva strokes home his and City's second goal
football
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas