The inauguration of the embattled Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, for another term as president has taken place in Minsk in a secretive ceremony that was not announced in advance. Opposition leaders and European politicians immediately denounced the move as illegitimate.
“The day in which the president takes office, the day of the inauguration, is the day of our joint victory – a convincing and momentous victory,” Lukashenko told those gathered on Wednesday, in video footage published by his press service. Army generals, MPs and others were invited to the ceremony.
Lukashenko, whose claim to have won elections on 9 August with 80% of the vote sparked massive and ongoing protests in the country, appears to have held the ceremony without publicity to avoid it becoming a magnet for rioters.
“We haven’t just elected a president, we’ve defended our values, our peaceful life, our sovereignty and our independence, and we have a lot more to do in this regard,” he said, as he swore his oath for a sixth term in office.
A broad coalition has mobilised in opposition to Lukashenko, with daily protests and huge gatherings on Sundays, but he still appears to retain the support of the police and army, as well as backing from the Kremlin.