The international community and the Belarusian opposition reacted to the inauguration of Alexander Lukashenko. The representatives of many countries stressed that despite the formal ceremony, they don’t recognise the beginning of a new five-year presidential term of Lukashenko.
Germany still does not recognise Alexander Lukashenko as president of Belarus even after his inauguration on Wednesday, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
He added that “the fact that this ceremony was prepared secretly and carried out away from the public eye is very telling,” Deutsche Welle reports. Berlin reportedly wants to agree on EU sanctions against Belarus as quickly as possible.
Foreign ministers of several EU countries also commented on the ceremony, declaring their official position. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia reacted on the inauguration of Alexander Lukashenko on his Twitter acoount, 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
In a similar vein, Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok expressed his opinion on Twitter.
Alexander #Lukashenko, inaugurated today, has no legitimacy to lead his country. He is responsible for presidential elections in #Belarus which were neither free nor fair. Slovakia 🇸🇰 stands with citizens of Belarus.
— Ivan Korcok (@IvanKorcok) September 23, 2020
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Tomáš Petříček also declared the illegitimacy of the formal procedure for the inauguration of the President of Belarus.
🇨🇿🇧🇾 The elections in #Belarus were neither free nor fair. The result is therefore illegitimate, which is why today’s inauguration of Alexander #Lukashenko is also illegitimate. Belarusian civil society has the full support of the Czech Republic. Belarusians deserve #freedom.
— Tomáš Petříček (@TPetricek) September 23, 2020
The head of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry Linas Linkevičius used even more categorical language.
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
According to several independent media sources, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Denmark have announced that they no longer consider Lukashenko the President of Belarus.
Belarusian opposition reacts
Pavel Latushko, a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council of the Belarusian opposition, considers the situation with today’s inauguration unprecedented, in his telegram channel he called it “a special operation for his self-inauguration.”
“Under the protection of riot police, in an atmosphere of secrecy, in a small circle of hastily brought officials. Where are the jubilant citizens? Where is the diplomatic corps? And frankly, it looks more like a thieves’ meeting for the coronation of another thief in law. It is obvious that Alexander Lukashenko is exclusively the president of the OMON [riot police] and a handful of lying officials,” Latushko said.
Former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya called today’s ceremony at the Palace of Independence a farce, stressing that from now on, Lukashenko’s orders to the security forces have no effect, and only she is the legitimate leader elected by Belarusians.
“Today, in secret from the people, Lukashenko tried to hold his own inauguration. We all understand what’s going on. This attempt to recognise himself as legitimate only led to the fact that the previous mandate ended, and the people did not give him a new one. This so-called inauguration is, of course, a farce.
In fact, today Lukashenko has just retired. This means that his orders to power structures are no longer legitimate and cannot be executed. I, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, am the only leader elected by the Belarusian people. And our task now is to build a new Belarus together,” Tikhanovskaya said.
Valery Tsepkalo, who was a presidential contender, recorded a video message, where he said that the legal procedure for holding the event was violated.
“The person who today said that he is going to comply with the laws of the Republic of Belarus has violated every conceivable law that related to the presidential elections in the country, and which related to the inauguration, according to which it had to be announced in advance, people should know and it had to be broadcast on television and on state radio.
A person who has violated all laws, including the article of the criminal code, which relates to the illegal seizure and retention of state power. The person who announced the commission of a crime in terms of retaining and seizing state power – unconstitutional – is exempt from liability,” said Tsepkalo.
He also appealed to the law enforcement agencies of Belarus, prosecutors, the KGB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs with a request to give this event [an inauguration ceremony] a legal assessment, recalling their oath of service to the Belarusian people.