MINSK -- With widespread protests against his regime in Belarus entering their sixth month, Alyaksandr Lukashenka has repeated previous pledges to draft a new constitution by the end of this year and put it to a referendum.
Similar promises by the 66-year-old Lukashenka have been dismissed by the embattled opposition as stalling tactics.
The latest pledge -- via Russian television -- comes with scattered protests continuing across the country on January 10 despite the threat of violent suppression by police and security forces.
Security officers were out in force in Minsk and other cities on January 10 to intimidate possible participants in weekly Sunday demonstrations of opposition, with officers quickly stepping in to arrest people in some cases.
Lukashenka's declaration of victory for a sixth presidential term after a heavily fettered election on August 9 set off months of unprecedented opposition that has been ruthlessly countered with mass arrests, beatings, and strictures on media and public gatherings.
In a recorded interview with Russian state television ahead of the Orthodox New Year that begins on January 14, Lukashenka again dangled talk of changes but declined to specify what they might be.
"I think that by the end of next year, the draft of a new constitution will be ready," TASS quoted him as saying. "And then in a referendum, people will decide whether to have a new constitution or not."
Crisis In Belarus
Read our coverage as Belarusians take to the streets to demand the resignation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and call for new elections after official results from the August 9 presidential poll gave Lukashenka a landslide victory.
Lukashenka has repeatedly used dubious referendums and noncompetitive elections to consolidate the state and keep himself in power since he became post-Soviet Belarus's first president in 1994.
But the pot boiled over after the August election, which took place with would-be opposition candidates rejected or jailed and dissidents rounded up beforehand.
Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the wife of one of those jailed aspirants, has fled into exile over fears of arrest and claims she won the vote.
She and other opposition figures -- many of them forced to flee or expelled from the country -- have rejected Lukashenka's vague promises of future constitutional changes as a tactic to defuse the protests that have attracted hundreds of thousands of Belarusians to demand his exit and new elections.
They say it is a matter of time until he is forced to leave.
Protest actions -- kept small and scattershot to avoid tipping off police beforehand -- were reported on January 10 in Minsk and Vitebsk. Arrests soon followed.
WATCH: In an effort to avoid detention, protesters have resorted to flash-mob tactics and engage in smaller and shorter marches outside city centers as opposed to large-scale demonstrations that have become an easier target for the security forces.
Lukashenka has rejected dialogue, and has leaned heavily on support from Moscow to withstand the international condemnation.
More than 30,000 Belarusians have been taken into police custody in the 155 days of protest since the vote.
Western governments and pro-democracy groups have also demanded that Lukashenka clear a path to new elections and stop the roundups and brutal suppression of dissent.
Amid the Orthodox holidays, the Vatican this month said Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Minsk, who was briefly prevented from reentering Belarus after he criticized the government's harsh crackdown on the protests.
It was unclear whether Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz's resignation had been expected.