Belarusian language is squeezed out of district state-owned press

2013 2013-03-04T18:14:11+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Members of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party hold an action in support of the use of the Belarusian language in the pages of the local state-owned press.

They send letters to the editorial offices of the state-owned editions, asking to publish at least half of the articles in Belarusian, as far as it a state language on par with Russian. However, their concern is hardly shared by the newspapers' editors.

At present, only one of the 17 district newspapers, "Peramoha" (issued in Dziatlava), is published predominantly in the Belarusian language and has a completely Belarusian website.

A half of the remaining newspapers are published only in Russian (though two languages – Belarusian and Russian – are indicated in their registration certificates). The other half keeps to the official bilingualism.

BCD activists submitted letters with readers' signatures to the regional and district press, asking to publish at least a half of articles in Belarusian. According to Slonim activist Ivan Bedka, ten years ago the state newspaper in his district was published only in Belarusian.

"We ask to publish at least half of the newspaper in Belarusian. We have two official state languages, whereas the newspaper is issued only in Russian, though earlier it used to published articles and the Belarusian language, and yet earlier – was issued only in Belarusian," commented Mr. Bedka.

The editor of "Slonimski Vesnik" Kiryl Liashchenka explains the domination of the Russian language in the pages of the newspaper in the following way: "What concerns the articles, our journalists can write in the preferred language. Most often the sympathies of our readers bend towards the Russian language. We have repeatedly studied this issue by holding questionnaire and street polls – and this is a fact".

A reader of the Masty district newspaper "Zara nad Niomanam", Uladzimir Kaushovich, reported about the results of the analysis of all issues of the newspaper for the previous year he held together with his friends: "The newspaper used to be published only in the Belarusian language, and it had a literary page where local poets and literary workers could publish their works. At present even such pages have disappeared and everything is published only in Russian."

The deputy editor of the newspaper, Natallia Sheuchyk, doesn't consider it to be a problem: "Every journalist chooses what language to write in. Some of them choose Russian, some others – Belarusian. So, what's the matter? We have two state languages, and I don't see any problems here."

Slonim journalist and writer Siarhei Chyhryn analyzed the situation of the Belarusian language in the district newspaper and concluded that during the recent years even the journalists who use to stably and constantly write in the Belarusian language suddenly started writing in Russian.