[WORLD NEWS ★]
WHY DOES THE PRESIDENT OF BELARUS TAKE HIS SON EVERYWHERE?
(P1) Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko surprised some ONLOOKERS by taking his 11-year-old son to the UN General Assembly in New York.
(P2) Kolya was photographed POSING with his father alongside Barack and Michelle Obama at a RECEPTION for the summit on Monday.
(P3) But he was not just there for the sandwiches.
(P4) Kolya also joined world leaders in the seats of the general assembly hall as his father addressed DELEGATES from around the world.
(P5) But it was not a ONE-OFF “take your child to work day” for Belarus’s ruling family.
(P6) The little boy in a suit often accompanies his father ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, including a visit to Beijing for China’s World War Two COMMEMORATIONS on 3 September.
(P7) Kolya was pictured watching Beijing’s MASSIVE military parade alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, and lining up for a PHOTO SHOOT with leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping.
(P8) There are claims Mr Lukashenko is GROOMING his youngest son to be his successor.
(P9) Speaking to the BBC in 2012, Mr Lukashenko denied this and insisted the boy was so ATTACHED to him that he would not go to sleep without him.
(P10) Among other recent trips, Kolya went with his father to the United Arab Emirates in October 2014 where they visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
(P11) He may be extraordinarily well travelled for an 11-year-old, but some critics have begun to question the increasing impact of all these appearances on his education.
(P12) Kolya missed a week of school in September this year – the same amount of time that he missed during six months of 2014.
(P13) Mr Lukashenko’s TIGHT GRIP on power has brought criticism from the West – with the US Bush administration describing him in 2005 as the “last DICTATOR in Europe” at the head of an “OUTPOST of TYRANNY“.
(P14) Human rights groups accuse him of WIDESPREAD abuses.
(P15) Meanwhile most Belarusian media channels are controlled by the government.
(P16) Kolya, short for Nikolai, is the youngest of the president’s three sons.
(P17) It has been widely reported in Western media that he was born in 2004 as a result of an EXTRA-MARITAL AFFAIR between the president and his personal doctor.
(P18) Whatever the CIRCUMSTANCES of his birth, Kolya has certainly received special attention in recent years – attending numerous world events and meeting global leaders.
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- Do you think that President Lukashenko is indeed grooming his son to succeed him?
- When you were a child, did either of your parents have to spend much time away from home? Was this difficult for you?
- What effect do you think these travels are having on Kolya? Is he benefiting from them?
- Do you think that having a “normal childhood” is important, or not always?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- On official business
- Photo shoot
- Tight grip
- Extra-marital affair