Madrid: Belarus has a "criminal regime of a violent and authoritarian nature", according to a US diplomatic assessment quoted by the Spanish daily El Pais Tuesday.
The daily was quoting confidential US diplomatic cables which had been obtained by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
In cables written in 2007 and 2008, US diplomats based in Minsk described Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko as a "dictator".
Lukashenko was a "peasant turned ideology officer", whose Soviet upbringing had brought him to believe that "the state rules the people", the cables quote a former Lukashenko aide as saying.
"As a former Soviet army political officer, the dictator understands the use of ideology as a veneer to mask the true intentions of one`s actions," the source said.
Lukashenko was able to take even harsh decisions, but "he knows to stop short of allowing opponents to tie him to extra-judicial executions", he explained.
"Murder is the only sin a ruler could commit that the Belarusian people would never forgive," the source was cited by the US cables as saying.
The diplomatic cables also present Lukashenko as protecting former interior minister Yuri Sivakov and Colonel Dimitri Pavlichenko.
The two were suspected of involvement in criminal rackets, disappearances of opposition leaders and, in Pavlichenko`s case, killings of crime bosses.
They may have committed "heinous crimes" on Lukashenko`s behalf, US diplomats wrote.