The hardline president of Belarus has saddled up on a Harley Davidson to lead a procession of more than 800 motorcyclists.

Alexander Lukashenko drove through Minsk on the motorcycle with youngest son Nikolai in his lap. Both weren't wearing helmets.

They led a procession Saturday opening the Minsk 2009 international motorcycle festival.

Members from more than 15 European countries took part in the parade, dedicated to the allied victory over fascism.

Lukashenko is criticized by rights activists who say he crushes dissent and takes political prisoners in the former Soviet nation. Small liberal steps Lukashenko has recently taken has led to better ties with the West.