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Orsha authorities: We are about to unite with Russia
Orsha inhabitants demand to bring back the Belarusian language to the public transport. More than 300 people have signed the appeal demanding to be able to hear public transport announcements in Belarusian. The Belarusian language was removed from Orsha public transport seven years ago. Officials have been rejecting all requests to bring it back ever since. Why is it a problem to use Belarusian names for bus stops and bring back Belarusian timetables to stations? Why is the Union State connected with it?
“The Belarusian language has been ousted from all spheres of life”
All the attempts to discuss the Belarusian language issue with Orsha officials have brought no result, the authors of the petition say.
“Orsha public transport has been using only the Russian language for several years,” the authors of the petition noted. “Bus stops are announced in Belarusian and timetables are also in Belarusian in other Belarusian cities. However, Orsha is an exception. All the attempts to discuss the problem with the administration of the public transport and all the appeals sent to officials have brought no result […] The Belarusian language has been ousted from all spheres of life in Orsha and Orsha District.”
Local and regional officials explain their refusal to bring the Belarusian language back to the public transport by the fact that there are two state languages in Belarus.
“Many heads of Orsha District Executive Committee were not local inhabitants,” a local Belarusian Language Association (TBM) activist Yury Nahorny said. “You could send appeals to the executive committee and to the public transport administration. Rinse and repeat. They kept saying that there were two state languages and that Russia was close...”
To avoid translating Russian announcements to Belarusian, local and regional officials kept saying that… they lacked specialists who could do it. Then they found another reason to refuse: some local citizens had allegedly opposed to hearing their mother tongue in buses.
“We kept telling the officials that we would translate everything and find teachers with good pronunciation,” head of Orsha TBM affiliate said. “However, somebody asked to preserve the Russian language in the public transport, they replied. Do you know how it is done? The ideological department orders to find five or ten people from the Veteran Council or some other governmental organization who would sign the appeal. Done.”
“Many people complained about the Belarusian language”
The petition would be considered as soon as it is delivered to Orsha District Executive Committee, local officials told Euroradio. However, why have they replaced the Belarusian language with Russian?
“Local inhabitants complained. Everything should be solved here. I cannot tell you anything by phone,” chief specialist of the ideological department of Orsha District Executive Committee Tatstsyana Petrashkevich said.
Deputy director of Orsha bus fleet #3 Vital Tsyareshchanka also mentioned complaints about the Belarusian language. There is no sense in translating announcements as Belarusians should be preparing to unite with Russia, he added.
“We used to have them [announcements and timetables in Belarusian] but it resulted in numerous complaints,” Vital Tsyareshchanka told Euroradio. “Belarusian announcement contained mistakes. That is why we switched to the Russian language. After all, there are two state languages in Belarus. We are also in a union with Russia. We will soon unite.”
Vital Tsyareshchanka did not specify when Belarus would unite with Russia.
Orsha is not the only Belarusian city where officials are refusing to use the Belarusian language. Graffiti with a Russian inscription was created to mark the Day of Belarusian Literature in Slonim. It was explained by complaints lodged by adherents of the Russian language. Those people turned out to be activists of ‘the Russian world’.