Sculptor to sue Belinvestbank over Belarusian

2014 2014-02-24T12:39:47+0300 2014-02-24T12:39:47+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Henadz Loika

Henadz Loika

Back in 2012, sculptor and teacher Henadz Loika wrote a letter to Belinvestbank asking to open a card account in his native Belarusian language, as he said he did not speak the other official language, Russian. However, his request was rejected.

The bank’s deputy head, Y. Korzhal, says that, the Belarusian legislation allows using one of the official languages using for documentation and record keeping​​, while it does not oblige organizations to use both languages at a time​​. Therefore, Belinvestbank is using only Russian. The bank’s management also argued that the standard forms of contracts for opening card accounts are developed in Russian with the aim of providing most convenient services to a wide range of clients.

It seems that the bank’s managers did not think that “a wide range of clients” could include Belarusian-language citizens. The 2009 census showed that some 5 mln people named Belarusian their mother tongue (60 % of the overall population).

Later in 2012, Belinvestbank said it could start providing Belarusian language services to credit card holders, naming the first six months of 2013 as the possible date for the reform. However, in September 2013, Mr. Loika received a reply saying that the bank had decided against updating software with reference to possible personnel and time expenses.

The claimant also wrote to the National Bank, which recommended Belinvestbank to find options to resolve the issue raised by the applicant.

The Constitutional Court in its decision of December 4, 2003 highlighted lack of equality of the two state languages, including in the field of banking services.

The National Bank in its letter of January 21, 2004 suggested that the banks should ensure the possibility of signing contracts in both Russian and Belarusian languages.

Since the management of Belinvestbank for almost two years has been rejecting all applications and requests by Henadz Loika, he decided to file a lawsuit in court to complain about the violations.

In his complaint sent to the Tsentralny District Court of Minsk, which was prepared with the help of Viasna lawyers, the applicant refers to the provisions of the Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which directly prohibits discrimination on linguistic grounds, and refers to the decision of the Constitutional Court and the recommendations of the National Bank.