Lukashenko's early career

Lukashenko was born in the village of Kopys in the Vitebsk voblast of what was then the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. He graduated from the Mogilev Teaching Institute in 1975 Communist League), leading a Komsomol chapter in Mogilev from 1977-1978. After leaving the army, he became the deputy chairman of a collective farm in 1982 and in 1985 was promoted to the post of director of the Gorodets state farm and construction materials plant in the Shklov district.

In 1990, Lukashenko was elected as a Deputy in the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus, his first step as a politician. He founded a faction called Communists for Democracy, which advocated a democratic Soviet Union run on communist principles. He claims to have been the only deputy of the Belarusian parliament who voted against ratification of the December 1991 agreement that dissolved the Soviet Union and set up the Commonwealth of Independent States in its place. In the aftermath of the dissolution of the USSR, Lukashenko briefly returned to management of a state farm.

Having acquired a reputation as an eloquent opponent of corruption, Lukashenko was elected in 1993 to serve as the chairman of the anti-corruption committee of the Belarusian parliament. Although he maintained close links to leftist Communist factions, he fell out of favor with much of the Belarusian Communist Party for attacks on the corruption and privileges of the Communist nomenclature. In late 1993, he accused 70 senior government officials, including Stanislav Shushkevich, the speaker of the parliament and the acting president, of corruption and stealing state funds for personal purposes. Lukashenko's accusations forced a vote of confidence that Shushkevich lost. Later the accusations against Shushkevich proved to be without merit.

A new Belarusian constitution enacted in early 1994 paved the way for Belarus' first democratic presidential elections, held in July 1994. Six candidates stood, including Lukashenko, who campaigned as an independent on a populist platform of 'defeating the mafia'. Shushkevich and Vyacheslav Kebich also ran, with the latter regarded as the clear favorite. Lukashenko won 45% of the vote against 15% for Kebich and only 10% for Shushkevich. A second round was held on July 10 in which Lukashenko won over 80% of the vote.