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Protests aspro-Russians threaten school

BELARUS: Demonstrations by pupils, staff and human rights groups have failed to stop the pro-Russian government of Belarus forcing a new head on their school.

The Yakub Kolas humanities lyceum, founded in 1992 after Belarus became independent, saw itself as protecting the country's language and culture.

The appointment of a Russian speaker as head is regarded as a fatal blow to the school and to Belarusian-language education. The popular existing principal, Vladimir Kolos, says he has no alternative but to resign. Under Soviet rule, the Belarusian language was downgraded in favour of Russian, so that, by the mid-1980s, no school in the capital, Minsk, taught in Belarusian. The lyceum was then praised by officials for its contribution to "state building" in the new republic. The school's academic record has been among the best in the country.

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