2009 21/10

lvykankamok_mal2By a resolution of the Juvenile Commission … the authorities have taken a five-day time-out to make a decision on the future of the Belarusian-speaking gymnasium pupil Yanka Lapitski, who after a discriminatory decision #928 by the Executive Committee of 09.09.2009 was actually deprived of the right to education in Belarusian Gymnasium #1 in Zhodzina.

On 19/10/2009 the parents of the Belarusian-speaking schoolboy Yanka Lapitski received a letter with an invitation to the meeting of the Juvenile Commission of Zhodzina Executive Committee to consider the future education of their son. After a telephone conversation with Alexei Lapitski, when he requested that they were sent a written invitation to the meeting, a document was served upon them by chairman of the commission and the secretary Natalia Larchanka and Iryna Danilava. 

About an hour before the meeting Sviatlana Lapitskaya received a phone call by her employer, who wanted to verify her presence at the meeting, and another 15 minutes later they were visited by policeman Khamenkou, who in quite a cavalier fashion declared that he had been ordered to escort the parents of Yanks to the building of the executive committee so that they could take part in the meeting in a police car.

However, before attending the mission in Zhodzina Executive Committee, which was scheduled at 10-00, refusing the services of the police, the parents had to register their application in Zhodzina Prosecutor’s Office, together with their unanswered applications to Zhodzina gymnasium, the executive committee, and the recent response by the Deputy Minister of Education of the Republic of Belarus Kazimir Faryno.

At the executive committee meeting, chaired by Natalia Larchanka, attended by secretary Iryna Danilava and committee members Dzmitry Khamenkou (police department), head of Zhodzina department of education Yauhenia Harydze, employees of the executive committee Lidziya Samusevich, Tanya Pekar, Katsiaryna Sakhonchyk, in the presence of the complainant, headmaster of Gymnasium № 1 Henadz Karshun, the session began with a report on the case.

Aliaksei Lapitski requested that the meeting was held in Belarusian, which triggered a strong negative reaction by the Interior Ministry official Khamenkou, who in spite of the fact that the request was directed to the chair of the meeting Natalia Larchanka, actively tried to influence the situation during the meeting.

He objected and said literally that he has, for example, “dual language” to which one was told that on this occasion A. Lapitski is sorry for him, because the invited to the meeting parents of Yanka have “not a double, but a normal” language, which is Belarusian.

In response to the request, chair of the meeting decided to repeat the materials in Belarusian after they are voiced in Russian. Then, the executive committee’s lawyer Andrei Lahvinets was summonsed for consultations on the matter, who advised to put down the request in the minutes, and then address the issue in the course of the meeting … because ‘we have two languages’ …

Following the report by the Chair of the Commission, the position on behalf of the parents was expressed by the father of Yanka Aliaksei Lapitski, basing it on the constitutional law and international standards of law, documents by the Ministry of Education, as well as on the situation with the Belarusian language in the education sphere of Zhodzina, over the last 7 years; he described the discriminatory situation of Belarusian-language education of his son in Zhodzina Gymnasium № 1.

It was interrupted many times by the same representative of Zhodzina town police department Khamenkou, who could not calm down and made comments on the Belarusian words that were used during the speech.

However, (as noted by the participants) in the end it was clear that the Commission staff learned a lot of new things for themselves, which were valuable for decision-making. In addition, the speech was accompanied with a number of documents – complaints to School #1 (among them the very first ones, which in defiance of the Law of Belarus ‘On public appeals’ – was not responded to been for more than 1,5 months response), the last additional complaint to the school and the executive committee, the response from the Ministry of Education and the complaint to the prosecutor’s office filed the same day 20/10/2009 against the illegal actions, inaction and discrimination based on political, ethnic or linguistic grounds.

The speech by the initiator of the meeting – Principal of Gymnasium № 1 Henadz Karshun – turned out to be a real show. He presented the facts (even from the beginning of Yanka’s studies at the school) in such a distorted manner that the parents had to make some corrections and comments afterwards.

In the following brief, very informal exchange of remarks in which the representative of the city police department Khamenkou tried to focus the attention of the local education department and other persons present on the existence of a health certificate of the student attached to the parents’ application for home form of teaching. This motivation has been actively used by the executive committee and the administration of Gymnasium № 1 to justify the refusal to teach the boy in the premises of the educational institution.

Besides, headmaster Henadz Karshun stressed that the said Deputy Minister did not have an opportunity (in his response to the parents) for a positive decision – it was not enough and that he could not teach a Belarusian-language student at Gymnasium № 1 in the framework of home learning – even under the appropriate application by the parents. He again referred to the existing instructions and orders…

Chairman of the Commission, Natalia Larchanko suggested that he stopped turning a blind eye to the existing problem, voiced by the Ministry of Education and find an opportunity to see how it can actually be used for a more rapid and positive decision. Moreover, the parents completed the formalities and the relevant procedures a long time ago.

Following the comments, head of Zhodzina department of education Yauhen Haryd took the floor, who referring to “newly discovered evidence” in the form of a response from the Ministry of Education, signed by Deputy Minister Kazimir Faryno and additional, relevant application by the parents – suggested that the Commission provide the educational department a few days to consider the issue of further Belarusian-language studies of Yanka Lapitski at Gymnasium number 1.

Principal Karshun wondered what he could do about the student’s studies in these days. The proposal – to teach! was rejected by Svzitlana Lapitskaya who said that she did not give her consent for the boy to be trained in at home.

As a result, after a number of remarks by Aliaksei Lapitski, the final order was adopted and signed under number 417 of 20.10.2009, with preliminary results of the consideration.

According to the participants of the meeting, Sviatlana and Aliaksei Lapitskis were surprised to note that after the statement by head of the town education department the disputes suddenly died, which resulted in the adoption of a resolution (even though it had some positive content) , which no one on the committee voted for. No one tried to suggest voting. Is that a tradition…!?

In any case, after the meeting of the juvenile commission of Zhodzina executive committee, Yanka Lapitski’s parents and the boy himself, who, due to the discriminatory policies and decisions of the executive committee actually lost a semester of studies, seem to have regained a chance for the continuation of Belarusian-language learning at the school.

As the parents were told after the meeting of the Commission by head of the local educational department Yauhen Horyd, “the process is under way….”

However, despite all this, it should be noted that the status and form of education which are only admissible during the period of the validity of a medical certificate (half a year) and depend on the will of the executive committee, make the positions of the Belarusian-language student and his parents, Aliaksei and Sviatlana Lapitskis, very unstable and dependent on the local authorities.

Incidentally, the meeting of the Commission was attended by the PERMANENT MEMBERS of Skaryninski polling station – Lidziya Samusevich and policeman Khamenkou. It at this polling station where chairman of the City Council of Zhodzina Aliaxandr Puhach is always elected…

As pointed out by Aliaksei Lapitski, in any case, the parents and the pupil will continue to seek the complete abolition of the discriminatory decisions by Zhodzina executive committee number 928 on the prohibition of Belarusian-language education in Gymnasium number 1 in Zhodzina.

Prepared by Ales Leta,
Belarusian Legal Portal,

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