Alexander Lukashenko was sworn in for a fourth consecutive term as president of Belarus on Friday. He won the election amid criticism from opponents and international monitors, who claimed the voting process was rigged.
Lukashenko has held in the ex-Soviet republic since 1994 and has a stormy relationship with the West, accusing Germany and Poland of instigating demonstrations against him as part of a coup attempt.
EU and US ambassador declined to attend his inauguration. Much of the criticism stems from the detention of opposition activists. Ex-presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov was accused of espionage against the regime and imprisoned.
The election result sparked huge protests in the capital, Minsk, and hundreds of people were reportedly arrested.
Lukashenko has shrugged off threats of economic sanctions from the West if he refuses to release political detainees by promising tough countermeasures of his own.