Updated at 23:19,25-10-2016

Language discrimination during census in the army

15-10-2009, 17:54

One of the leaders of the BPF party Vintsuk Vyachorka told the website www.charter97.org how his son Franak Vyachorka had taken part in the census in air defence military unit 48694 in Mozyr.

According to the politician, the soldiers were offered to fill in census forms only in Russian; when asking about the native language, the interviewers, in violation of all rules, explained it was "the language one had spoken in childhood". Thus, Vintsuk Vyachorka thinks the soldiers were pushed to call the Russian language their native.

Democratic activist Franak Vyachorka, forcefully drafted into the army, refused to fill in a census from in Russian and demanded to give him a form in Belarusian. The command of the military unit refused to fulfil the lawful request of the activist. Moreover, battalion commander Ihar Lyabedka threatened rudely that if Franak Vyachorka "broke the census campaign", the military prosecution agency would get interested in him.

Nevertheless, Franak Vyachorka demanded that the command should address the Mozyr census center and learnt if it had census forms in Belarusian. After long wrangling, forms in Belarusian were given to the military unit three hours later.

"The events in the military unit in Mozyr are a reflection of the events in the country, but in an uglier form. I have always said that the answer to a question about the native language depends in great degree on the language an interviewer speaks and the language of the form. If one must demand a form in Belarusian, this is discrimination! Giving definitions to "native language" is also wrong! It is an affair if any person to decide which language is his or her native. What does it mean "the language you spoke in childhood"? What if a person began to speak Belarusian in old age?", Vintsuk Vyachorka commented on the situation.