Dmitry Matuizo, a lecturer at the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts, claims that his contract was not renewed because of his civil position. He announced this in his recorded video appeal. He doesn’t want to leave the university and asks his students to sign a petition in his support.
Timur Olevsky, a journalist with the “Nastoyascheye Vremya” (Present Time), talked to Dmitry Matuizo about how he was fired, about protest activities and students’ moods.
“Do they fail to extend your contract in line with the law; and why isn’t it extended from the viewpoint of common sense?”
“I don’t think that common sense can be appealed here; in terms of the minimum labour legislation, our ‘wonderful’ contract system allows an employer not renew a contract without giving any explanations.”
“That is, this is the very case when an employer has leverage over subordinate teachers, isn’t it?”
“What are the current moods among teachers and students? Do they now stick to the same viewpoints that you do, or do many, on the contrary, oppose them?”
“I can’t speak for the whole university; I can tell of what I can see with my own eyes and hear with my ears. But it seems to me that most people, including teachers, really think in the same way as I do. It just turns out that there is a huge gap between one’s opinion and one’s position. Thinking is one thing, but speaking out is quite different.”
“And who, by the way, is more inclined to hide their position: teachers – they have a lot to lose – or students?”
“Of course, teachers; young people are always more active. The teachers are adults; in general, it’s all as usual.”
“Have you watched the today’s Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s appeal to teachers? What do you think, will it resonate in their hearts? By the way, is she right?”
“To be honest, I haven’t watched the appeal. I found it already after I recorded my messages. My appeal is not motivated, and in any way not connected with what Tikhanovskaya said.”
“She tells teachers that it takes courage not to let OMON (riot police) inside, and promises support, including financial one. Can this seem to someone sufficient arguments to [move] from opinion to position?”
“This is such a slippery slope that you can very easily use to discredit someone, including myself, by saying, ‘He is a human; it’s easy for him to talk about his position, when he knows that he will be paid if he is fired.’ Therefore, I wouldn’t like to emphasize this. First I listen to my conscience, and then I think what to do if I suffer for it.”
“There are now quite many people like you in the country, who don’t agree with what is happening, including teachers. Maybe some kind of independent university, not recognized by the state, without official diplomas, can appear in Belarus? Students will come to you, as to the people who are trusted by the society, to study, and then a sort of educational establishment will grow out of this. Or do you hardly believe that this can happen?”
“Under the existing conditions, I have little faith that this can happen. There was a period when Belarus had quite a lot of private universities, but as a result of certain events they disappeared; some found themselves abroad. To do what you said, we must first solve more serious problems, which, in fact, we are talking about.”