2013 17/10

Aliaksiey Lapitsky, Zhodzina

In connection with the fact that in Salihorsk members of Belarusian Language Association (TBM) began to defend their right for naming streets in Belarusian and demand implementation of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On the geographical names of objects”, Belarusian Legal Portal asked Aliaksiey Lapitsky, the organizer and one of the founders of Zhodzina TBM n.a. F. Skaryna in 1999, about this attitude to the problem.

The human rights defender from Human Rights Center “Viasna”, activist of the Litvins Center and TBM n.a. F. Skaryna in Zhodino, Aliaksiey Lapitsky, in connection with the following example of Salihorsk residents’ struggle for their rights and officials’ performance of the standards of the Belarusian legislation, notes:

– In Zhodzina, as well as in Salihorsk (and elsewhere in Belarus), there are also many violations of the law of that kind. They are everywhere around actually. We live in some kind of a nonlegal abstraction, where reality has nothing to do with the rights and freedoms guaranteed to the citizens by the Constitution. After a successive destruction (there are no better words to describe it) Belarusian-speaking classes in schools of BelAZ city – Zhodzina, Belarusian-language street inscriptions were also practically destroyed. To our requests and suggestions to make the inscriptions in Belarusian or in two official languages, the “local vertical” replied that they do not have the budget for it (!?). As the saying goes, there is no comment. The last class with education in Belarusian language was forcibly closed by the order of Taisa Danilevich (now a deputy of the House of Representatives of National Assembly of Republic of Belarus, by the way not from Minsk, but from Salihorsk) “in order to save the budget and socialize the student in the school’s environment”, speaking about Yanka Lapitsky, the last Belarusian speaking student of the Gymnasium number 1 (former Zhodzina Belarusian Gymnasium).

It is worth speaking that Russian-language street signs in Zhodzina completely violate the law “On the geographical names of objects” and rules of appellation titles in Belarusian and transcribe them into Russian through the proper transliteration, described in art. 17(streets in particular). We didn’t raise the issue in contacts with the administration at the local level intentionally. However, this problem is urgent and obvious.

We even have an example of not just ignoring the law but of the execution of it quite the opposite. Near Zhodzina there is a small town “Aktsiabrsky”, the name of which seems to be written with Belarusian letters, but is a transliteration from the Russian-language name “Oktsiabrskiy”. It is like walking backwards or standing not on feet, but on one’s head. You can walk different ways, but where will you get that way?! And it’s difficult to stand on one’s head for a long time. But in hope that a Belarusian can withstand everything, such kind mockery of us and our children (and as a result of our national heritage and a common future civil) cynically continues. We are forced to be “meek and mild” to live and not think, watch and not see, and listen and not hear, and what is most important in this case – to like this “antediluvian touring circus”.

Indeed, we no longer know what is more here – the indifference or ignorance (or even some hostility) to all Belarusian, authentic and native. Maybe it is a random mistake or provincial official desire to please and always work within the imposed artificial, but “always right” ideological doctrine? Such kind of a “nomenclature-command” victim to “brotherhood” and “peace” … for the sake of one more demonstration of “good” relations of slaves with their masters.

“Whatever it was, but the desire to do Belarusians a lot of harm is bigger than a duty “to know and regard” Constitution and other Belarusian legislation” – summed up Zhodzina human rights activist.

For your information:

In accordance with article 17 of the Law “On the geographical names of objects”, the names of geographical objects in the Republic of Belarus are to be given in Belarusian language. Transcription them into the Russian language is only possible through transliteration.


Examples of appeals to the administration on the language issue and questions of the names of the streets in Zhodzina:

1) Appeal of the residents of the house number 3 on pr.F.Skaryny in Zhodzina, 2009. (Bel)
2) One of the common official responses from Public Utilities (Bel)
3) Appeal of A.Lapitsky, 2010. (Bel)
4) A reply from Zhodzina authorities (Vasil Hryshchanka) (Rus)

Ales Volny
Belarusian Legal Portal

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