Belarusian education officials tell schools to subscribe to state press

All the secondary schools in Pastavy, northern Belarus now have to subscribe to two copies of the Young Rescuer magazine - one copy for the students, another one for the teacher. The education department of the Pastavy District Executive Committee  has allegedly sent a letter with this requirement to all the local schools, reports.

“Based on the letter from the head of the Pastavy District of Emergency Situations, the education department of the Pastavy district executive committee urges you to assist in conducting a subscription campaign for the Young Rescuer magazine in education institutions and consider the need to subscribe to at least two copies for each grade in July - December 2019," the letter reads.

Considering that the cost of a six-month subscription to the Young Rescuer is 12 rubles and 72 kopecks, it turns out that, for example, pupils of secondary school No. 1, or rather their parents, must transfer 814.08 BYN to the magazine for a subscription. It is done in a voluntary compulsory manner.

Euroradio has tried to figure out who forces schools to subscribe to the magazine: the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the education department or someone else - and whether it is possible to unsubscribe from the state media.

Officials at different levels both at the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Information have repeatedly stated that there is no compulsory subscription. Reporters also have heard similar statements from Vital Navitsky, the head of the Emergencies Ministry press office, particularly when it came to subscription to the Young Rescuer magazine. But maybe they didn’t know about it in Pastavy?

Pastavy Emergency Rescue Office: we did write the letter about Young Rescuer but did not force anyone.

Representatives of the Pastavy Department of Emergency Situations recognize that they did write to the department of education about the Young Rescuer. But there was no requirement for the schools to subscribe to it.

"The letter had an advertising nature: it described the magazine, what it writes about, said that it's content is for children and what information there was. It was a letter of this kind. And not a kind of letter demanding anything -- no way! There was just a letter to the head saying that there is a magazine which tells about thit and that which can be used to work with children -- something like that," the Pastavy Emergency Rescue Office explained.

That was all. I don't know what happened next, what letters the schools received from the education department,“ the Euroradio source said and added that he voluntarily subscribed to this magazine for his child at his home address.

The information from the Pastavy rescuer was supported by the spokesperson of the Emergencies Ministry, Vitaly Navitsky: "It was an information letter, of course. The Emergencies Ministry inspector would be immediately dismissed for any kind of coercion," he wrote in the comments.

"Various officials agree directly among themselves" 

So, coercion is an initiative of the district education department?

“I don’t know anything about this letter,” said Tatsyana Rusalouskaya, deputy head of the education department of the Pastavy district executive committee. “Various officials ask their questions directly to the head of the department. Therefore, you need to ask him -- we don’t know anything.”

We did not manage to reach Alyaksandr Kashyrin during the day. Although we would very much like to know how the “information letter” from the head of Pastavy Emergency Situations Department turned into a letter of demand “about the need for a subscription” and whether pupils and teachers can unsubscribe.