School students sang songs during breaks: cases are taken against them under article 23.34

23 November 2020, 19:01 | The Village Belarus
After the father of three school children had been detained near the school building, students held a silent protest holding blank sheets of paper in the school lobby. This action was interpreted by the school administration as an unauthorised mass event.

The students of Minsk school No.4 who sang songs during breaks are subject to administrative proceedings under article 23.34 of Administrative Violations Code – “participation in an unauthorised event.” Since minors cannot be punished according to the law, their parents are being dealt with.

In school No.4, students sang songs written by Lavon Volski, by the bands “Lyapis Trubetskoy” and “Brutto” during breaks. After another flashmob, Andrei Asipenka, father of a large family whose children also study here, came to the schoolyard with a poster “Children, you are incredible!”

Someone called the police. Andrei was detained and jailed for 15 days for participating in an unauthorised event. On 30 October, 150 parents came to the school and demanded an explanation from the principal why the police who scared children had been called.

After the detention of Andrei Asipenka, children began to go out with blank sheets of paper, the father of one of the students told Radio Free Europe.

“Children supported him – they began to go out with blank sheets of paper during breaks. And a vice-principal for discipline, Volha Kulinkovich, filed a complaint with the police, saying that an unauthorised mass event was being held inside the school during breaks in the presence of teachers,” says the father of a student.

Currently, administrative cases are being initiated against the minors under article 23.34 of the Administrative Violations Code. Parents together with their children are invited first for a “preventive conversation” and then to the commission for juvenile affairs. The father of a student said that he and the parents of 9 other students had already been called for a conversation and then to the police.

Children receive reprimands. And there are already complaints in the police under the article 23.34 on every child. The children are underage and the police cannot hold them liable, so police reports are drawn up with their parents as offenders – for alleged inadequate performance of parental duties.

“A report has been already drawn up on us, and we have testified to a police lieutenant colonel. My report says who filed the complaint – Volha Kulinkovich, a vice-principal for discipline,” claims the father.

The family has already hired a lawyer and are collecting character references for their son. Now the commission for juvenile affairs is making a decision; the family may be fined.

He insists that children understand everything. And during the preventive conversation, it was said that some other parents were outraged [at the protest songs].

“The administration refers to some anonymous parents who don’t like that children sing at school. Some striking phrases were quoted, “Children come home and ask awkward questions.” They say our “spoiled” children influence their “‘good’ ones,” adds the man.

He recollects his childhood when the commission for juvenile affairs stepped in if “someone stabbed another person with a knife, sniffed glue or stole something.”

“And now children are reported for singing and playing the guitar. How can one file a complaint on children who sing at school with teachers around?” the father is indignant.

On 24 November, another preventive conversation is going to take place in school No.4. Seventeen parents with their children, as well as members of the commission for juvenile affairs, have been invited.

The vice-principal for discipline Volha Kulinkovich refused to explain why it is forbidden to sing during breaks at school. She replied with irritation that “all questions must be addressed to the principal Andrei Hotsman.” And yet she added: 

“There is the law, there is a code of conduct [that specify] what a lesson is for and what a break is for. Children mustn’t gather during breaks – don’t you know about the coronavirus? We have not had a single concert, a single event at school this year. I will not explain anything to you, I am not obliged to explain anything to you!” said Volha and broke off the conversation.

The principal is constantly busy, as we were told at the reception.