Does publication of newspaper in Belarus violate the equality of state languages?

2013 2013-05-03T19:56:53+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
District newspaper "Slonimski Vesnik"

District newspaper "Slonimski Vesnik"

In February members of Slonim branch of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy gathered 39 signatures under an address to the chief editor of the “Slonimski Vestnik” newspaper, calling to return the Belarusian language to its pages, which had been completely replaced by Russian.

Before this, the newspaper had been published only in Belarusian since 1939. At present only the newspaper’s name is written in Belarusian – with the appointment of Lyashchanka the newspaper started being printed almost solely in Russian, only journalist Vasil Afanasik writes in Belarusian.

In his answer Kiryl Lyashchanka refers to the results of the referendum of 15 May 1995, after which the Russian language acquired the status of a state language on par with Belarusian. Then the editor writes that the editorial staff allegedly held a poll among the readers and the majority of readers voted for its issue in Russian. In fact, there was no such pall in the pages of “Slonimski Vesnik” during Lyashchanka’s editorship.

He also writes that the newspaper wasn’t renamed in Russian after the recent re-registration with the state.

The members of Slonim BCD were dissatisfied with such an answer. Slonim resident Barys Kuchynski filed a written address to Kiryl Lyashchanka, asking to publish the previous address with the 39 signatures and the answer to it in the newspaper.

Mr. Lyashchanka answered that he didn’t want to issue the newspaper in the Belarusian language as far as “the activities of “Slonimski Vesnik” aren’t aimed at violating the equality of the media”… What concerns the request to publish the collective address and the answer to it, the editor answered that the editorial office had the right to choose the letters which are published in the newspaper and nobody has the right to force the editorial office to publish the information it has rejected.