By Ria Novosti
Police in Tajikistan arrested three Tajik students on Tuesday on suspicion of murdering a young man dressed as Father Frost, or Russian Santa Claus, on New Year’s night, a Russian radio website said.
Some media reports quoted a senior police official who said the crime had been committed by 30 religious fanatics in protest against Father Frost traditions imposed during the Soviet era. The Tajik Interior Ministry denied the reports, Ekho Moskvy said.
The police said the three detainees, students of the Tajik national university, were drunk when they allegedly attacked the 24-year-old victim, Parviz Davlatbekov.
Davlatbekov put on the Father Frost outfit to congratulate his relatives but was severely beaten up on his way home. The young man died in hospital of sustained injuries.
The murder caused an outcry in Tajikistan and is being actively mulled in social networks.
Debates around supporters and opponents of New Year celebrations in Tajikistan arise every year ahead of the holiday. The country’s spiritual leader Saidmukarram Abdukodirzoda said on December 30 that festivities such as decorating the New Year tree, dancing and playing games around it were all alien to the Tajik culture and contradicted Islamic rules.
But the holiday is nevertheless celebrated officially, with Christmas trees standing on the streets and parties organized at schools and nursery schools across the country.