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ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) - Taking a leaf out of a Dr. Seuss story, the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan is reportedly stealing Christmas by keeping the local version of Santa Claus off the airwaves.

Independent news website UzMetronom reported Monday that President Islam Karimov's authoritarian government imposed the informal ban on Father Frost and his snow maiden sidekick.

The characters have for decades been regular fixtures across the former Soviet world over the New Year's holiday season.

The ban is similar to the semiofficial 2005 ban on celebrating New Year's Eve.

Uzbekistan has proven hostile to other holidays deemed insufficiently native. In February, authorities canceled concerts for Valentine's Day and instead organized readings of poems by medieval Mughal emperor Babur.

Karimov has been eager to eliminate Soviet culture in Uzbekistan.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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