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Public Action For Schooling In Belarusian Brings Results

Uladzimir Khilmanovich and the Astrouskis demonstrate for Belarusian education.
HRODNA, Belarus -- A schoolgirl in the western Belarusian city of Hrodna is to be taught in the Belarusian language following a protest by her parents, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Svyatlana Astrouskaya's classes will be in Belarusian starting on October 1. In the meantime, she will receive her first-grade education in Russian as all other children in elementary school No. 32.

Local authorities agreed to prepare a special academic program in Belarusian for Svyatlana after her parents Ales and Aksana Astrouski picketed the Hrodna mayor's office on September 3 to demand education in the Belarusian language for their children. All Svyatlana's classes, except art, music, and physical education, will be conducted in Belarusian as of next month.

But Svyatlana's parents, as well as journalist Uladzimir Khilmanovich, who also took part in the picket, are to be tried in a local court for holding an unsanctioned public action of protest. According to them, the date of the trial is not clear at this point.

Both Russian and Belarusian are official languages in Belarus, but Russian dominates all spheres of everyday life in the country.