Head is sacked over joke

February 18, 2005

The pro-rector of a university in Belarus has been fired two months after being accused of failing to control students who poked fun at the country's president.

In the opinion of provincial authorities, Regina Ventsel, pro-rector for educational matters at Baranavichy University, and her deputy Ivan Kitsun, were responsible for a skit performed by her students that mocked Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The performance was staged at a student comedy festival in Minsk last November. The Brest Regional Executive Committee decided it was "unacceptable", since not only had Mr Lukashenka "done so much" for Baranavichy, but also because "disrespect for the president is disrespect for the country".

Mr Kitsun was fired the day after the show and Ms Ventsel formally reprimanded. Now she too has been sacked.

No official explanation has been offered for her dismissal. The entry on her employment card states that her contract was terminated "by mutual agreement". But according to the Charter 97 human rights website, no one among the Administration personnel denies she was sacked because of the skit, which apparently depicted the president discussing his salary.

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