Hrodna: family picket for Belarusian school
On 2 September, Professor Aliaksandr Astrouski, his wife Aksana and their children came to Lenin Square in Hrodna and unfurled banners with slogans in front of the windows of the city executive committee.
The children, Yanka and Sveta, were holding a poster: ‘We want to study in Belarusian’, and Astrouski: ‘Ethnocide is a silent extermination of the nation’. A journalist Uladzimir Khilmanovich joined them. He said: ‘There is not a single form with Belarusian language of instruction in Hrodna region! What kind of country is it?’
Aliaksandr Astrouski explained that they had written an application to school number 32, for their daughter Sveta to study in the first grade with the Belarusian language of instruction. However, their application was ignored, that is why Astrouski’s family staged the protest.
According to RFE/RL, Professor of Hrodna Medical University Aliaksandr Astrouski and the journalist Uladzimir Khilmanovich were detained by policemen and taken to the police station in Haradnichanskaya Street. They were asked to provide explanations concerning the picket, and a report of posters’ seizure was drawn up. Then Astrouski’s wife Aksana and children, Sveta, Yanka and 2-year-old Vasil, where taken to the police department.
As said by Aksana Astrouskaya, a policeman asked questions: who had been the initiator of the picket, who wrote posters, what was the reason of the rally on Lenin Square? In her turn, she demanded to write down the evidence in Belarusian, and the policeman agreed.
Aliaksandr Astrouski notes that first they were invited to Iryna Sechankova, Deputy Chairperson of The Hrodna City Executive Committee, and had a constructive talk about the possibility to open a first form with the Belarusian language of instruction. However, he said that if that would not be done, he would take his girl away from school and hire tutors. He was surprised that after such a conversation 5 policemen were waiting for him.
Astrouski says that the policeman asked why they had not filed an application for the picket 15 days ago. But parents had a hope that their daughter would be offered education in Belarusian. However on 1 September they found out that their hopes were futile. According to Mr. Astrouski, the policeman said that the law had been violated, and summons could be issued to him.