Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko was inaugurated in a secret ceremony Wednesday for a new term in office, mainly to avoid a throng of demonstrators.
Parliament members and Army generals were invited to attend the ceremony in Minsk amid civil unrest related to his election.
Opponents say he won re-election last month through fraud.
"The day in which the president takes office, the day of the inauguration, is the day of our joint victory -- a convincing and momentous victory," Lukashenko said.
"We haven't just elected a president, we've defended our values, our peaceful life, our sovereignty, and our independence, and we have a lot more to do in this regard."
Lukashenko, who has support from Russian President Vladimir Putin, won 80% of the vote but the results were immediately rejected by opponents.
Thousands have rallied against his re-election and the demonstrations have lasted for weeks as Lukashenko's government has struggled to calm the dissent.
"Under the protection of riot police, in the atmosphere of secrecy, in a narrow circle of hastily brought officials," opposition politician Pavel Latushko said.
"Where are the jubilant citizens? Where are the diplomatic corps? To be honest, it looks more like a thieves' meeting for the coronation of another thief-in-law."
The inauguration officially opened Lukashenko's sixth term as Belarusian president, a position he's held since 1994.
Authorities arrested hundreds of protesters in Belarus engaged in various demonstrations last weekend.