This Central Asian dictatorship is one country Santa will be skipping this year. According to the Associated Press, local media reported earlier this month that President Islam Karimov's regime has banned the local version of Santa Claus from television.
The gag order reportedly applies to Ded Moroz (Father Frost), his young female side-kick Snegurochka, and several other folklore characters known throughout the former Soviet world, including the infamous wood witch Baba Yaga. The ban is an attempt to discourage the celebration of holidays and folk figures deemed too Russian or too Western. According to the new decree, Christmas trees are allowed on TV, but only if they are small and pictured at a distance.
Karimov's nationalist, Asian-centric crusade has also targeted some other favorite holidays. Santa's blacklisting is similar to the government's 2005 ban on celebrating New Years Eve in the capitol's public schools. (Uzbekistan's New Year's Eve traditionally falls on the vernal equinox.) The government also canceled Valentine's Day celebrations this year, replacing them with "organized readings of poems by medieval Mughal emperor Babur." How romantic.NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images