MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said that Pope Benedict XI was moved to tears by the sight of his five-year-old son, Kolya.
The existence of Kolya, Lukashenko's third son, was a secret until 2007. Since then, the Belarusian leader has often taken the boy, whom he has referred to as his "heir", on official trips. Kolya was also photographed with his father in the uniform of the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Belarus at Russia-Belarus military exercises in late 2008.
"I went to see the pope," Lukashenko, 54, in Russia for talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, told the Izvestiya paper. "It's unheard of for a child to be there, but I'd already brought him along, and I said, 'wait in the corridor.'"
"When my talk with the pope was over, he asked me if I could bring my child in," Lukashenko went on.
"The boy came in, and how that man, that elderly man who never sees children, changed. There were tears in his eyes. He stroked Kolya's head, but Kolya doesn't like that, he only likes it when I stroke his head, and I could see that he was getting angry, but I said to him 'put up with it.'"
Lukashenko, who has ruled the former Soviet republic since 1994, also said that he had no choice but to take Kolya with him on state business.
"To be honest, if I am not at home, he doesn't sleep or eat. He's attached to me like a tail. I'm forced to take him on foreign visits because he won't sleep if I do, he'll wear himself out. But with me in the plane, he sleeps and he eats."
The Belarusian leader, once called "Europe's last dictator" by Washington, also admitted however that Kolya sometimes caused problems at meetings with heads of state.
"I tell him, 'Kolya, sit next to me, not on my lap, but he says 'no, I want to sit with you, on your lap. You're my dad, and I want to sit with you, on your lap.' What can I do when there are journalists, film crews all around?" Lukashenko asked. "I say 'OK, sit on my lap, then.'"
Lukashenko has two other sons, Viktor and Dmitry, with his wife, from whom he lives separately. However, the identity of Kolya's mother has never been made public. Media reports have speculated that Kolya's mother is his former personal doctor.
"How many children are there, illegitimate children, in Russia and Belarus? And how many abandoned children are there?" the Belarusian president continued. "Let this be a lesson. No matter what happens in life, if you have a child, the circumstances of his or her birth are not important."
"As [Russian Prime Minister] Vladimir Putin said, 'This [a child] is from God.' What am I going to do, hide from God? People say to me, I'm sorry to be so immodest, that there are very few fathers like me."
"Kolya is only five years old, still only five, but he understands everything," Lukashenko boasted. "That's why, you know, to be blunt, he is my talisman, my everything."
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Erdogan will continue to help consolidate Islam’s influence in public life and use Islam as a political issue. It is hard to say what Turkey will do in the Muslim world, but Erdogan obviously does not need any more turmoil in neighboring countries.