Local publishers afraid to publish book about Belarusian speakers’ problems

Belarusian officials can rarely boast a good knowledge of Belarusian. While noone asks them for good English skills, the knowledge of the Mother tongue is required by law. For almost 30 years now math teacher from Mahiliou Mikhas Bulavatski has been collecting his correspondence with officials, where he is defending the status of the Belarusian language.

This is a portrait of an era. But officials and other servants are not playing a positive role in it.

Mikhas is not alone in the fight with windmills. Another example is Valadar Tsurpanau.

The Mahiliou activist has sent as many as 13 complaints against his former employer for replies in Russian. The case ended up in court, which also replied to Tsurpanau in Russian.

Every year Mahiliou human rights defenders receive multiple letters from many citizens, whose right to the Belarusian language gets violated by the state.

“In this case, it is the violation of the law on languages, Article 5, stating that officials are obliged to reply in the language of the address, as well as article 4, which states that an official must have the language proficiency sufficient for working with it,” says human rights activist Barys Bukhel.

The law is there, but there are no sanctions for its violation.

But such the book of Mikhas Bulavatski may well become a suspended sentence, which will preserve the names of anti-heroes for the history.

Mikhas has had problems with the publication of the book. At first, it was to be published by the Belarusian publisher, but it became afraid of potential problems and transferred it to Smolensk. As a result, 200 copies of the book were published in Lviv.

Volha Zharnasek, “Belsat”

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