National sound: Minsk rail management in Belarusian music vow

16 August 2016

Bosses at Minsk’s main train station have promised to play more Belarusian-language music, in response to a passenger complaint.

Customer Yahor Makarevich was decidedly unimpressed when he heard only Russian-language music during his wait at the Belarusian capital’s principal railway station. Much to the surprise of local media, he received a prompt reply to his complaint, along with a promise of action.

“Your suggestion is correct, and we have already bought discs of Belarusian-language music to make our selection. The Russian and Belarusian languages will alternate,” read the response, according to the local Nasha Niva newspaper.

Belarusian social media users have been eager to engage with the issue, not only expressing support for the move, but also extending offers to help with selecting songs for the station’s new playlist. While many have commended the station managers for promoting Belarusian music, some have voiced fears about the possible choice of tracks — might traditional folk-style music be favoured over more dynamic and innovative newer artists?

Although Belarusian is the main language spoken at home by only a minority of Belarusians, and the language has suffered marginalisation in favour of Russian during the 22-year rule of President Alexander Lukashenko, the last two years have seen the government attempt to revive the language. The railway station bosses will not be short of song choices — pop music has been one arena in which Belarusian has enjoyed considerable success, with local groups like Lyapis Trubetskoy gaining a significant following both at home and abroad.

Source: BBC News