Staunton, Dec. 29 – When Alyaksandr Lukashenka came to power in 1994, he restored Soviet efforts to make Russian the language of Belarusians hoping that would help him to become president in Moscow; but now, he is taking even harsher steps against Belarusian because it has become “the language of the opposition,” Marat Maytak-Annaozarov says.
But it has acquired that status because it corresponds to the desires of the population, the Belarusian opposition commentator says. Many who speak it now choose to go underground or even emigrate, further enraging the Minsk dictator and leading him to take ever more extreme actions against the language as such (theins.ru/obshestvo/257070).
He has removed Belarusian from state television, insisted that government actions down to the level of traffic police are only in Russian, and most seriously for the future closed Belarusian schools not only in the cities as the Soviets did but in the villages. UNESCO has already declared Belarusian a language at risk.
And if nothing is done to stop Lukashenka, Maytak-Annaozarov says, the national language faces extinction. Indeed, at the present, he continues, the language can only be saved by the efforts of Belarusians and their supporters abroad.