“Such gestures only show Lukashenko’s contempt for fundamental democratic principles and the basic human rights of the Belarusian people,” he said.
The ceremony, a grand state occasion that would normally go on with fanfare, took place without prior warning in an apparent attempt to keep it from being disrupted by the protests.
Instead, it drew thousands of people to the streets of the capital Minsk on Wednesday evening, where security forces chased protesters and fired water cannons to disperse the crowds. Police arrested 364 people, the Interior Ministry said.
A video of a taxi driver rescuing a protester and walking away from baton-wielding riot police has gone viral on social media.
At the same time, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the House of Commons in London on Thursday that in light of the European Union’s delay in preparing for its own sanctions, Britain is standing by join with other allies in adopting targeted sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations.
“We will apply all the tools at our disposal to hold Lukashenko and his regime to account,” he said.
“We are ready to join the EU in adopting targeted sanctions against those responsible for the violence, repression and vote rigging, although the EU process has now been delayed in Brussels,” Raab said. “In view of this delay… we are coordinating with the United States and Canada to prepare the appropriate lists as a matter of urgency. ”
The EU said Thursday that Lukashenko’s swearing in to a sixth term lacks democratic legitimacy, defies the will of the Belarusian people and will only worsen the country’s political crisis.
🇨🇦 deplores the unexpected inauguration of Lukashenko following a fraudulent election. He does not have legitimacy as a democratically elected leader.
🇨🇦 calls for a & amp; free; fair election for the inhabitants of #Belarus . We coordinate with the int. partners for an appropriate response.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell reiterated that the 27-country bloc had failed to recognize the outcome of the August 9 elections that kept Lukashenko in power after 26 years.
“This ‘inauguration’ directly contradicts the will of a large part of the Belarusian population, expressed in numerous peaceful protests unprecedented since the elections, and only serves to further aggravate the political crisis in Belarus,” said Borrell.
Borrell underlined the EU’s conviction that “Belarusian citizens deserve the right to be represented by those they choose freely through new inclusive, transparent and credible elections”. He praised their courage.
On Monday, EU foreign ministers failed to impose sanctions on Belarusian officials suspected of electoral fraud or of participating in a brutal security crackdown on post-election protests, despite calls from Lukashenko’s main opponent to take courageous action against his regime.
Cyprus continues to block sanctions until similar measures are imposed on Turkey for its disputed energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. EU leaders will try to break the deadlock when they meet in Brussels on October 1.
In an email to The Associated Press on Thursday, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said: “Lukashenko does not belong to a presidential palace. It is on the EU sanctions list.
“The secrecy surrounding his inauguration ceremony simply illustrates that he was not sworn in on the basis of free and fair elections, but on voter fraud and violence,” Kofod said.
Lukashenko defended the swearing-in
Lukashenko swept aside the condemnation.
“We did not ask anyone to recognize our elections or not to recognize them, to recognize or not the legitimacy of the newly elected president,” said the Sputnik Belarus news site.
The 66-year-old leader has defended the way he took the oath.
“You know that around 2,000 people were invited to the inauguration, along with the army. And it’s almost impossible to keep it a secret, ”he said.
Detained opposition politician Maria Kolesnikova urged protesters not to give up and mocked the security forces who arrested her, in a letter to her father that was shared by the Tut news portal. By.
“You have to tell them not to give up, just keep going! These people who kidnapped me are all incredibly weak and hysterical. They don’t even know how to do their job well, ”the 38-year-old wrote.
Kolesnikova polished her hero status for protesters by tearing up her passport to avoid a forced deportation to Ukraine earlier this month.