A national leader dubbed Europe's last dictator showed that he did not mind getting his hands dirty by helping to lay a concrete floor in a new sports arena.

 

Belorussian president Alexander Lukashenko, 62, was joining millions of his countrymen in 'Saturday cleaning' in which Belarusians work a day for free for the community.

 

He helped put in a concrete floor in the Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Training Centre currently being built in the capital city of Minsk.

 

The president was in charge of a team pouring and levelling concrete in what will be the choreography hall at the centre.

 

The centre is due for completion by March 2018 and Mr Lukashenko said of the project: "Everything should be functional, nothing extra."

 

As well as the president, many of Belarus’s most famous celebrities and athletes joined three million Belorussians in the Saturday cleaning event.

 

The tradition of working unpaid on community projects in former Eastern Bloc nations goes back to 1919 when Russian Bolsheviks needed to mobilise workers to rebuild the country but were unable to pay them.

 

Mr Lukashenko has been the Belarusian president since 1994. He has retained Soviet-era policies, such as continued state ownership of key industries.

 

Belarus has been labelled "Europe's last dictatorship" by some Western journalists, on account of Lukashenko's authoritarian style of government.

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Author: Zoey McDougall

Zoey McDougall

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