Lukashenko Sworn In Belarusian President For Fourth Term

(RTTNews) - Alexander Lukashenko has been sworn in Belarusian President for a fourth term, a month after he was re-elected amid controversy.

The 56-year-old was inaugurated for a five-year term on Friday at a ceremony held at the presidential palace in capital Minsk, which was boycotted by European Union officials.

Addressing the gathering that included parliamentarians, diplomats, and Belarusian intellectual elites, the former Soviet Republic's first and only President assured his people that the country was immune from the "coup virus" that had swept several neighboring countries - Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan - over the past few years.

"The color revolution virus affects only weak countries," he said.

He pledged to pursue closer cooperation with former Soviet Republics, including Russia, with China, the European Union (EU) and the United States.

Lukashenko made the statement a day after warning of tough retaliatory measures against a possible strengthening of sanctions on the Belarusian leadership by the EU and the United States.

On Thursday, the EU Parliament adopted a resolution calling for immediate sanctions against the leaders of Belarus, irked by the handling of the post-election protests in the former Soviet Republic.

Lukashenko, dubbed by the United States as "Europe's last dictator," was re-elected for a fourth term with a landslide majority in the December 19 elections.

Declaration of the results followed violent anti-government protests in the capital with thousands of Opposition supporters taking to the streets alleging electoral fraud behind Lukashenko's victory.

Police and KGB agents detained more than 600 protesters, including presidential contestants. Opposition candidates Vitaly Rymashevsky and Vladimir Neklyaev were injured when the police broke up a rally of their supporters. Neklyaev was arrested from his hospital bed.


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