MINSK, Belarus (AP) — The Belarusian president has lashed out against President Barack Obama, drawing a comparison between American exceptionalism and Nazism.
Alexander Lukashenko told the Kazakh TV station 24.kz that Belarus had "already survived this 'exceptionalism' ... which cost us 50 million lives." He appeared to be referring to the number some cite as the Soviet death toll during World War II, although most historians put the figure between 20 million and 30 million.
In the interview, which was shown in Belarus on Thursday, Lukashenko said he was surprised that Obama would promote such rhetoric, given he comes from a country "where black people were slaves not all that long ago."
Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist for nearly two decades, has been known for his outbursts in the past. In 2011, he called European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso a "goat."
But this time he appeared to be taking his lead from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who took to the opinion pages of The New York Times in September to criticize Obama's description of America as exceptional.
In making the case for holding the Syrian government accountable for a deadly chemical weapons attack, Obama had asserted that American ideals and principles were at stake. "That's what makes America different," Obama said. "That's what makes us exceptional."