Salihorsk UCP activist sues local state-run TV channel over language discrimination
A member of the United Civil Party, Viktar Malochka, filed a lawsuit to the Court of Salihorsk district against local state-owned TV channel. The decision to sue the TV channel is linked to failure of the latter to put on the air in March 2013 a greeting on the 95th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic and repeated replies in Russian.
“Back in early March I, together with local activists of the Belarusian Language Society, sent to the Salihorsk TV channel a statement concerning the use of the Belarusian language in its broadcasts. In particular, we asked to allow airing holiday greetings with Belarusian-language poetry and songs. Unfortunately, our request was rejected. Moreover, the answer was given in Russian,” says Viktar Malochka.
The activist believes that by doing this the directorate of the channel flagrantly violated the law “On Public Appeals”, as well as the Belarusian Constitution, which provides for equality of the Belarusian and Russian languages.
“I also asked the Salihorsk channel to congratulate the residents of the town on the 95th anniversary of the proclamation of the Belarusian People’s Republic. Of course, I was going to pay for this service. However, the channel refused to read the poem by Nil Hilevich “Our Holiday” and play Danchyk’s song House over the River with the lyrics of Natallia Arsenneva. They also refused to show a screensaver with the coat of arms of “Pahonia” during the broadcast of the track,” says Mr. Malochka.
The managers of the state-owned channel said Freedom Day was not on the list of public holiday dates, and the national coat of arms had no registration number, while the song was allegedly missing from the repertoire of the channel.
In addition to recognition of the violations of the law, the activist asks the court to order the editorial board of the Salihorsk TV channel to broadcast public apologies to him and to all the residents of the district, which must be aired in the Belarusian language. For refusing to broadcast Freedom Day greetings on trivial grounds, and for violation of the law, Viktar Malochka demands one million rubles in moral damages.