The long-standing issue had been resolved after the referendum, which resulted in the declaration. The President also said that no one can go against the policy that he had just declared and any pressure on the language issue is banned.
This is a positive achievement for Belarusian, which had been playing second fiddle to Russian for so long. President Lukashenko said that these two languages are their nation’s pride. He said that Belarus has made a huge contribution to the development of the Russian language and although there are many Belarusians who claim Russian as their mother tongue, both languages are their legacy and they should not forget that fact.
Support for Belarusian language
While he made the declaration of using both Belarusian and Russian in Belarus, the president said that he still supports his country’s own language. He said it is what made them quite distinct from Russians. The Belarusian language is also a unique feature of the country and the language should not be lost as it is more important than money and loans.
Views on neighboring countries
President Lukashenko believes that the inexpedient national policy exercised by Ukraine over the language issue led to the sad events that happened in that country. He added that he believes that the Belarusians are wise, tolerant and smart because they have Tatar, Jewish, Polish, Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian ancestors.
Victory for Belarusian speakers
Speakers of the Belarusian language are rejoicing. For nearly two decades the use of their own language had been suppressed by the President. But now he had changed his mind, after continuously receiving criticisms for his authoritarian rule and facing renewed concerns over the increasing influence of Russia in Belarus. For a long time, only about 10% of the population spoke Belarusian, which was classified as the language of the political opposition.
One of the alternative cafes in Minsk (the capital of Belarus) called Gallery Y had been conducting three-hour Belarusian language classes every Monday. One of the students is Alena Vasilyeva, who is a university lecturer. Her family spoke Russian and they stopped her Belarusian language lessons when she was younger. She said that the short course on the language she took at university was not enough for her to conduct a normal conversation. She attends the classes at Gallery Y not only to learn the Belarusian language but also to know about the distinctiveness of her country and what makes them different from the people from Russia.
The new policy is projected to boost the number of Belarusian language learners in Belarus, where about 70.2% of the population speak Russian.