MOSCOW, December 10 (RIA Novosti) – Taking on the role of Grinch in an anti-New Year crusade, Uzbek officials ordered the television censoring of Russian folk characters, including the Slavic Santa Claus, local media reported on Monday.
Ded Moroz (“Father Frost”) and his young female aide Snegurochka are not to be shown in New Year-related TV shows, according to an unofficial order “from on high,” independent news website Uzmetronom.com said.
Gift-bringing Ded Moroz became the New Year mascot throughout the USSR in Soviet times, and retains an edge in popularity over his Western rival Santa Claus to this day.
The ban also covers other Russian folklore figures such as the wood witch Baba Yaga, the report said.
Uzmetronom.com, citing unidentified sources in the Uzbek media, blamed the Ded Moroz crackdown on a group of ultraconservative officials in the government who have allegedly pushed for patriotic-minded censorship before. The website named no names.
Official Tashkent made no comment on Monday.
The ban is limited to television and does not cover public New Year festivities, including numerous children’s shows set to take place across the country, the report said. It remained unclear whether any Ded Morozes would make an appearance.
The story would not be Uzbekistan’s first attempt at cultural micromanagement: last year, local officials cracked down on rap music, demanding that local rap be tailored to Uzbek mentality by doing away with expletives and focusing on patriotism and filial piety in lyrics.
Like all post-Soviet republics of Central Asia, Uzbekistan has in the past two decades seen an exodus of ethnic Russians, who were said to suffer discrimination at the hands of the Uzbek authorities.