MINSK, Belarus – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at his swearing-in ceremony has rejected calls for economic reforms.
Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, was elected for his fifth term in office last month in a vote boycotted by the opposition. He said on Friday he will not pursue structural reforms because they are fraught with "revolution or a civil war."
Lukashenko, once dubbed Europe's last dictator, has skillfully maneuvered between Russia and the West since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March 2014. He has not recognized the annexation and has sought to act as a peacemaker, brokering talks between Ukraine, Russia and Russia-backed separatist rebels fighting in Ukraine's east.
The European Union last week suspended sanctions against Belarus following the government's decision to release political prisoners.