Zlatuska: Help to Belarussian students must come soon

Prague, March 26 (CTK) - The Czech Republic should help Belarussian students as soon as possible, while Czech universities have capacities for admission of young opponents of the totalitarian regime in Belarus, senator Jiri Zlatuska, a former rector of Masaryk University, told CTK today.

"This is a thing we should do at any rate. We should not drag our feet and we should not save any money in this respect. However, this will not be an expensive help," Zlatuska said.

Zlatuska reacted to a proposal by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek.

Along the lines of Polish politicians, Paroubek has proposed that Belarussian students expelled from schools because they were involved in protests against President Alexander Lukashenko's regime should be allowed to study at Czech universities.

"The Czech Republic cannot behave differently. For moral reasons, any tolerance is out of the question," Zlatuska said, adding that he condemned the steps taken by Belarussian authorities when suppressing demonstrations in Minsk. "This is a sign of all dictatorship and I wish Belarussians get rid of Lukashenko as soon as possible," Zlatuska said.

The programme was also backed by Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda. "Whoever will be expelled should have a chance of completing his studies," Svoboda told CTK today.

Education Minister Petra Buzkova has discussed the issue with the chairman of the Czech Rectors' Conference. She said that the road to Czech universities was open for these students.

"This would mean preparation either in Czech and later studies in English or a study in English," Buzkova said, adding that now studies in a foreign language are being paid, but the Education Ministry would allot the money for these students.

By helping the persecuted Belorussian students, Czechs can invest in the most valuable thing a country can have, the voice of the young, Zlatuska said.

"There are certainly the capacities, one should not speculate about this," he added.

There are various forms of cooperation, Foreign Ministry spokesman Vit Kolar said today.

There are about 25 projects devised to help the victims of the Belarussian regime, from scholarships to the printing of brochures, Kolar said.

"The brutal violence against demonstrators proves that Lukashenko's regime is afraid of democracy and tolerance, afraid of elementary signs of civic society," Paroubek writes in his statement passed to CTK today.

The events in Minsk are confirming that the successful Czech effort to place criticism of presidential elections in Belarus in the conclusion of the European Council was rightful, Paroubek writes.

President Vaclav Klaus does not comment on the situation in Belarus. His spokesman Petr Hajek said that Klaus had voiced position by not having congratulated Lukashenko on his re-election.

Former president Vaclav Havel said on Friday that one of a few things the free world can do for Belarus at the moment is to isolate the regime of Lukashenko.

"It is necessary to restrict all official contacts with Belarus," Havel told CTK in reaction to the latest developments in Belarus.

CTK has at its disposal a letter of support Havel has sent to the opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevich.

"I would like to assure you that I will continue to monitor the situation in your country, to support open-minded citizens and to alert the international community to the violation of human rights just as I have done to date. I beg you hold out. I hold my thumbs for you and your friends," Havel wrote.