Sack for don active in politics

April 10, 1998

A leading member of the Belorusian opposition has lost her university post and other academic staff active in the pro-democracy movement have been told they face the sack if they continue with their political activities.

Luba Luyneva, a history lecturer at Belorus State University and member of the human rights group Helsinki Watch, was sacked just weeks after President Alexander Lukashenko ordered university rectors to crack down on staff known to be members or supporters of the Belorus Popular Front and other opposition groups.

In a meeting with rectors in January, President Lukashenko, who has been censured by human rights organisations for his dictatorial policies, said political activities would no longer be tolerated.

The president said that if lecturers were using university classes to spread political ideas, the CIA could pay them, not he.

Dr Luyneva, who spends her free time representing students and young people arrested on anti-government demonstrations, was told her temporary contract had been terminated because a colleague who had been on maternity leave was returning.

But she believes the move was directly related to President Lukashenko's remarks.

Dr Luyneva, a single mother with a young son, said: "I've worked at the university for the past six years covering for a colleague on maternity leave. Normally if someone comes back efforts are made to find another post, but the dean, Oleg Janovsky, told me there was no other job for me."

Dr Luyneva is now out of work and struggling to find another job. When she approached a local school for work the director took one look at her and said he would lose his job within half an hour if he appointed her.

Dr Janovsky denied that Dr Luyneva had been sacked for political reasons and claimed she had found another job.

"She left because she was on a part-time contract; now she is working as a history teacher at a secondary school," he said.

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