US, UK and Canada to impose sanctions on Belarusians on Friday

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko abruptly sworn in for new presidential term

Lukashenko holds snap inauguration, Belarus opposition calls for Canadian sanctions

State media announced that Lukashenko, who has held onto power for more than a quarter century, took the oath of office during a ceremony held at Independence Palace in Minsk that was attended by several hundred government officials.

In Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has been sworn in without prior notice, despite mass protests over the president's claim of victory in an election in August.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell reiterated that the 27-nation bloc did not recognize the result of the August 9 election that kept Lukashenko in power after 26 years.

Lukashenko, taking the oath for a new five-year term, promised to "faithfully serve the people of the Republic of Belarus, respect and protect the rights and freedoms of the person and of the citizen" and defend the constitution.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko abruptly sworn in for new presidential term

The eastern European country was plunged into turmoil following a presidential election last month that Lukashenko says he won by a landslide, but the opposition says was rigged.

Latushko called for "an indefinite action of civil disobedience". Police and other security forces blocked off parts of the city and public transportation was suspended.

And Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said on Twitter: "Such a farce".

"Ukraine has never interfered in the internal affairs of Belarus in any way and will always support the Belarusian people".

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"Forged elections. Forged inauguration".

"His illegitimacy is a fact with all the consequences that this entails".

"The so-called "inauguration" and the new mandate claimed by Lukashenko lack any democratic legitimacy", he said.

Tikhanovskaya has said she would call for free and fair elections once Lukashenko had been removed from power. In his daily conference with journalists on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointedly noted that Vladimir Putin had decided not to congratulate his Belarusian colleague on the inauguration.

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Lukashenko has bristled at suggestions of starting a dialogue with the opposition. "Those who officially [get] 80% of the votes don't act like that", Klaskousky said.

Amid global outrage, Belarusian authorities switched to prosecuting top activists and mass detentions, avoiding large-scale violence.

Mr. Latushko praised Canada's call, along with 16 other members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, for the creation of a mission of experts that would investigate the alleged election fraud, as well as the regime's use of violence against protesters.

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