Monday, October 14, 2019

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Article Index

Belarus

Governmental and societal discrimination against the ethnic Polish population and Roma persisted. There were also expressions of societal hostility toward proponents of Belarusian national culture, which the government often identified with actors of the democratic opposition.

During the year authorities continued to harass the independent and unregistered Union of Poles of Belarus (UPB). However, in contrast with previous years, authorities did not openly persecute UPB members.

Official and societal discrimination continued against the country's 10,000 to 20,000 Roma. The Romani community continued to experience high unemployment and low levels of education. Authorities estimated the unemployment rate among Roma to be as high as 80 percent, according to the latest available information. Roma often were denied access to higher education in state-run universities. In 2009, however, the Office of the Plenipotentiary Representative for Religious and Nationality Affairs stated that the country's Romani community had no problems that required the government's attention.

While the Russian and Belarusian languages have equal legal status, in practice Russian was the primary language used by the government. According to

independent polling, the overwhelming majority of the population spoke Russian as its mother tongue. Because the government viewed proponents of the Belarusian language as political opponents of the regime, authorities continued to harass and intimidate academic and cultural groups that sought to promote use of the Belarusian language. Proposals to widen use of the language were rejected routinely.

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