Electoral Commission Prohibits Belarusian Language
On 12 February 2003 Yuliya Dzenisenka, secretary of Homel City Electoral Commission, Chairperson of the department of organizational staff work at Homel City Executive Committee, categorically refused to print in Belarusian the biographical information of the candidates to deputy positions Ivan Yatskow and Andrei Baranaw. According to Chairman of Homel branch of PA HRC “Viasna” Anatol Paplawny, she explained it with the fact that all other candidates printed their information in Russian and she wouldn’t make any exclusions because of the insufficient technical provision.
In the opinion of the “Viasna” lawyer Valiantsin Stefanovich, it is linguistic discrimination. The Law about languages of the Republic of Belarus says that Belarus has two State languages – Russian and Belarusian. The law provides citizens with the right to apply to State bodies in either of the languages. Article No. 12 stated that all electoral materials are to be published in both languages. This law also obliges all duty officials to have command of the two languages. The Code of administrative Violations contains Article No. 172, the second part of which provides punishment to duty officials for groundless limitation of usage of a State language – fine from 5 to 10 minimal wages.