Tajikistan has taken steps to ban Father Christmas from the country’s winter celebrations after his Russian equivalent, Father Frost, was outlawed by state TV.
Confirming the decision to the Asia Plus news agency, the deputy head of the Tajik government's TV and radio-broadcasting said it was made for cultural reasons.
“Father Frost, his maiden sidekick Snegurochka (Maiden Snow), and New Year’s tree will not appear on the state television this year, because these personages and attributes bear no direct relation to our national traditions, though there is no harm in them,” Siddiqov told the agency.
He also claimed that the decision was in fact made independently by state TV programmers, without any government influence.
“The state TV channels have made such a decision themselves and the Committee for TV and Radio-broadcasting has just approved it,” he said.
Tajikistan engages in a large secular New Year’s holiday celebration, with fireworks and parties broadcast across state channels.
The country had inherited Christmas traditions such as Father Frost (a translation of 'Dyed Moroz') from Russia during its time in the Soviet Union.
Around 98 per cent of the country’s population are Muslim and the presence of the traditions had come under fire from conservatives in recent years.
The capital, Dushanbe, will however still be erecting a 22-metre high New Year’s tree as part of festive activities funded by the city’s mayor.
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