HOMEL CANDIDATES TO LOCAL COUNCILS DENIED RIGHT TO USE BELARUSIAN LANGUAGE
On 12 February 2003 secretary of Homel city election commission Yulia Dzenisenka categorically refused to publish candidates’ CVs in Belarusian language. Candidates to Homel city council Ivan Yatskow and Andrei Baranaw wanted their information in Belarusian on the common poster of all candidates published by the election commission. Commission secretary Yulia Dzenisenka (head of personnel department of Homel city administration) grounded her refusal on the fact, that all other candidates had their texts for the poster in Russian, and the commission is not going to make an exclusion for 2 people: there were no resources for that.
Valantsin Stefanovic, lawyer of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", says: “This is called language discrimination, i.e. ungrounded limitation in using the language. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, and the Law “About Languages”, there are two state languages in Belarus: Belarusian and Russian. Belarusian citizens are guaranteed the right to address the state bodies both in Belarusian or Russian. Article 12 of the Election Code says, that all election materials should be published in Belarusian and Russian language. The Law “About Languages” also obliges all officials to have the knowledge of both languages to an extent, which allows to work with people. The situation in Homel is a disgraceful fact of discrimination. Meanwhile, the Code of Administrative Offences has Art 172/2, which provides for the responsibility of officials for breaking the legislation on languages (ungrounded limitation in using the language): a fine from 5 to 10 units”.