Photo from UNIAN

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba says Ukraine does not recognize Alexandr Lukashenko a legitimate head of Belarus following the latter's inauguration.

"Taking into account the election campaign & what followed, today's 'inauguration' of [Aleksandr] Lukashenko does not mean his recognition as a legitimate head of Belarusian state," Kuleba tweeted on Wednesday, September 23.

The top diplomat adds that "Ukraine has never interfered in internal affairs of Belarus & will always support the Belarusian people."

The statement comes following what appears to be a behind-the-doors inauguration of Alexander Lukashenko held in Minsk earlier today with no public attendance or international guests invited.

The secret ceremony was widely ridiculed in Belarus and many took to the streets to express discontent before law enforcers cracked down on protesters.

Earlier, the European Union and a number of western powers said they did not recognize Lukashenko a legitimate president of Belarus amid allegations of a rigged vote count in the presidential election held August 9.

Belarus election: Reactions

  • Lukashenko has repeatedly claimed "foreign interference" in the election and external efforts to foment the protests. He spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin who had promised him comprehensive assistance upon request.
  • On August 27, Putin suggested sending Russian security forces to suppress protests in Belarus.
  • The European Union declared non-recognition of the Belarus election results and reached an agreement to impose sanctions against Belarusian officials in response to vote rigging and the use of violence against protesters.
  • On September 15, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a statement on Belarus. Ukrainian lawmakers said the presidential elections in that country were unfair. They condemned repression against protesters and vowed support for sanctions to be introduced by the European Union against Belarusian officials.
  • On September 14, Putin received Lukashenko in Russia's Sochi. During the meeting, Putin promised to lend US$1.5 billion to Belarus. After the meeting, the Kremlin announced they would recognize Lukashenko as the only legitimate president of Belarus.