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Czech Republic: Renaissance Belarusian Scholar Honored

Prague, 31 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- A statue of Francishak Skaryna, prominent 16th century Belarusian Bible translator and printer, is today being ceremoniously unveiled at a place near the Hradchany castle in Prague.

Educated at the Cracow (Poland) and Padua (Italy) universities, Skaryna became famous when he translated and printed 23 books of the Bible in old Belarusian vernacular.

Skaryna subsequently continued his publishing and printing in Vilna, today's Vilnius, then a center of Belarusian culture. He is considered one of the first printers in Eastern Europe.

He traveled widely throughout Europe, but finally settled in Prague, where he died.

Skaryna's contribution to the development of Belarusian culture and language has been recognized by both Western and Eastern scholars.

The unveiling of his stature is being attended by a large official delegation from Belarus. It includes the current and former ministers of foreign affairs, Vladimir Syanko and Piotr Krauchanka, and the Minister of Culture Alyaksandr Sasnouski. The worldwide Association of Belarusians is represented by its chairwoman, Hanna Surmach.

The ceremony is to be preceded by a conference at the Charles University in Prague on Skaryna's role in the 16th century Renaissance Europe.