Photo: Telegram channel “Pul Pervogo”
On 23 September, self-proclaimed president-elect of Belarus Alyaksandr Lukashenka was sworn in at a “secret inauguration” that was not announced in advance. Apparently, the “last dictator of Europe” was afraid of the reaction of disgruntled Belarusians who are protesting the rigged election for the 45th day in a row, withstanding the mass detentions and police brutality.
— Alex Kokcharov (@AlexKokcharov) September 23, 2020
As riot police cracked down on protests that erupted after the secret ceremony in the Belarusian capital Minsk, where at least 197 were detained at publication time, according to the Viasna human rights center, leaders of many countries around the world announced they will not be recognizing the Belarusian strongman as president. Ukraine joined in, albeit cautiously.
Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba made a carefully-worded statement that hints at non-recognition of the inauguration yet addresses Belarusian accusations of Ukrainian interference into the election:
Ukraine has never interfered in internal affairs of Belarus & will always support the Belarusian people. Taking into account the election campaign & what followed, today’s “inauguration” of Lukashenko does not mean his recognition as a legitimate head of Belarusian state.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) September 23, 2020
Germany does not recognize Alexander Lukashenko as president of Belarus even after his inauguration on Wednesday, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a stateent.
Foreign ministers of several EU countries also commented on the ceremony, declaring their official position. Urmas Reinsalu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia reacted on the inauguration of Alexander Lukashenko on his Twitter account, calling it illegitimate:
Today's illegitimate inauguration of #Lukashenko goes against all principles of democracy.
Lukashenko has clearly lost his mandate.
We call upon free and fair elections for people of #Belarus to get the president they deserve.
— Urmas Reinsalu (@UrmasReinsalu) September 23, 2020
Linas Linkevicius, Lithuania‘s Minister of Foreign Affairs, called the inauguration “a farce”:
Such a farce. Forged elections. Forged inauguration. The former president of #Belarus does not become less former. Quite the contrary. His illegitimacy is a fact with all the consequences that this entails.
— Linas Linkevicius (@LinkeviciusL) September 23, 2020
Ivan Korcok, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia:
Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Latvia:
Secret “inauguration” of Alexander Lukashenko in #Belarus does not legitimise election fraud and his status as head of state. Regrettable that voices of Belarusian people and international community do not matter, only genuine political process can end political crisis in Belarus
— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) September 23, 2020
Tomáš Petříček, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Czechia:
Jeppe Kofod, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark:
Lukashenko confirms his own lack of legitimacy by arranging secret inauguration.#Belarus needs free and fair elections = a democratically elected president.
— Jeppe Kofod (@JeppeKofod) September 23, 2020
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland:
The US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee also stated Lukashenka is not the President of Belarus:
The fact that Lukashenka’s “inauguration” had to be held in secret only further proves he has lost all legitimacy as a leader. He is not the president of #Belarus and he must step down.
— U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee (@SenateForeign) September 23, 2020
The Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne was even more resolute; he also announced that Canada will donate $600,000 to support civil society in Belarus.
Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of The Netherlands, also stated that his country does not recognize Lukashenka as President of Belarus, De Telegraaf reported.
Belarusians responded with a flashmob with the flags of countries who did not recognize Lukashenka as President of Belarus:
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the wife of a jailed blogger who ran for president instead of him and is widely believed to have won, called the so-called inauguration “a farce” and stated that his orders to law enforcement agencies should not be obeyed.
Pavel Latushka, a former diplomat and member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council established to facilitate a peaceful transfer of power in Belarus, commented:
“Where are the jubilant citizens? Where is the diplomatic corps? To be honest, it looks more like a thieves’ meeting for the coronation of one more crime boss. From now on, he has ceased to be the President of Belarus.”
Latushka, like Tsikhanouskaya, left the country after intimidation by Belarusian law enforcement agencies. Most of the opposition has either been jailed or is exiled.
Note. Starting from today, we will be referring to Alyaksandr Lukashenka as the self-proclaimed president of Belarus.