No coup 'virus' here, says Lukashenko

MINSK, Belarus, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Alexander Lukashenko, dubbed the last European dictator by Washington, said during his inaugural address Friday that Belarus was immune from a coup "virus."

Lukashenko was sworn in Friday for this fourth presidential term following December elections widely criticized by the international community.

The post-election period was marred by widespread unrest that saw six presidential candidates and at least 600 anti-government protesters behind bars.

Lukashenko, the country's first and only president, said during his inaugural address Friday that his country was immune from so-called color revolutions that brought political upheaval to former Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Georgia.

"The color revolution virus affects only weak countries," he was quoted by Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying. "Belarus does not have any breeding ground for this."

The European Parliament passed a resolution Thursday that sanctions Belarusian leaders for their response to opposition protests. Washington stated shortly after that it supported the resolution.

Nevertheless, Lukashenko said he would use his fourth consecutive five-year term to move closer to Russia, the European Union and the United States.

Lukashenko was re-elected Dec. 19, claiming 80 percent of the vote in a 90 percent turnout. Hundreds of protesters were beaten and jailed when they rallied in Minsk, charging fraud.


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