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Swiss citizen has quick rethink on political asylum in Belarus

MINSK, December 14 (RIA Novosti) - A Swiss national said 'Hello' and a swift 'Goodbye' to Lenin after applying for political asylum in Belarus recently, changing his mind after 10 days in the "last dictatorship in Europe."

The Russian Noviye Izvestiya paper reported on Friday that the young man, whose name has not been released, arrived at the Belarus' border with Poland in a Lada, the Soviet and Russian economy car, almost two weeks ago.

The former Soviet republic of Belarus has been ruled by self-styled "man of the people" Alexander Lukashenko since 1994. The authoritarian leader has maintained a Soviet-style economy and encouraged nostalgia for the U.S.S.R., with Lenin statues a common sight throughout the country.

When questioned by border guards as to his lack of a visa, the Swiss dissident said that he wanted to apply for political asylum. To further prove his devotion to socialist ideology, he opened the boot of his car to reveal the complete works of Lenin, the father of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

Shocked border guards directed him to an immigration center in Brest, where, after a few days of serious consideration, migration officials began drawing up documents to grant the Swiss citizen political asylum.

However, before the documents were ready, the would-be political refugee had a change of mind, and asked to be sent home.

"He simply asked us to let him leave," a source at the immigration center said. The man then left in his Lada.

There has been no explanation as to why he decided to rethink his application, or, come to that, why he decided to lodge it in the first place.

Switzerland was ranked the third richest country in the world in 2006, with a GNP per capita of around $50,000. Belarus was in 82nd place, with less than $4,000.

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