The Russian region of Belgorod barred Valentine’s Day festivities in schools and government buildings, saying the western day of romance promotes promiscuity rather than true love.
Valentine’s Day promotes “amorousness rather than love,” said Grigory Bolotnov, a spokesman for the governor of Belgorod, southwest of Moscow. “It’s designed to swell the emotions, and you know what kind of teenage liaisons happen then,” he said.
Government-funded institutions were instructed to refrain from promoting Valentine’s Day in any way, though private businesses and individuals are free to do as they please, Bolotnov said.
Popular western celebrations such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween are no longer “en vogue,” as they were after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Bolotnov said. A poll in 2008 by Moscow-based research group Levada Center found that 41 percent of Russians considered Valentine’s Day a holiday and celebrated it as such, while the same percentage said just the opposite.