Man in Homel wins court battle over language dispute


Homel's Central District Court has cleared charges from Siargei Siamyonau, a resident of this regional center. Siamyonau was facing the second fine for demanding a Belarusian-language customs declaration form when crossing the Belarus-Ukraine border. The man refused to fill in the form in the Russian language.

But when his case became widely publicized and made high-ranking officials like the chairman of the Constitutional Court comment on the situation, the court machine came to a halt.

Siargei Siamyonau told the European Radio for Belarus that he was still unable to appeal the first court's ruling which sentenced him to a fine of Br930,000 ($460).

Three days ago, Siamyonau left for Ukraine where he has a job.

"When I was crossing the border, the officer looked at my passport as usual but did not call the customs officials. He only made a telephone call to his commanders. I think they still lack the Belarusian-language declaration forms, so they decided to avoid a conflict with me at this time", Siamyonau told the European Radio for Belarus.