RUSSIA / LONDON: Authorities in Russia’s Belgorod province are urging schools and other state institutions to refrain from celebrations marking the heart-shaped holiday, seen by some conservative Russians as a unhealthy foreign phenomenon.
The initiative is part of a recent directive on “measures to provide for spiritual security,” which calls on officials to ban Valentine’s Day and Halloween celebrations in educational and cultural centers in the province, Russian media reported.
“The very atmosphere of these holidays does not foster the formation of spiritual and moral values in youth, and holding them primarily benefits commercial organizations,” RIA quoted provincial government consultant Grigory Bolotnikov as saying.
The directive was signed by the Belgorod governor’s top deputy and “blessed” by the province’s Russian Orthodox bishop, the state-run news agency said.
Many nightclubs and other businesses in the province 600 km (380 miles) south of Moscow, have also been urged not to plan any special events for the February 14 holiday, according to RIA.
The dominant Russian Orthodox Church has grown increasingly powerful since the collapse of the officially atheist Soviet Union in 1991 and enjoys close ties with the Kremlin leadership.
Its efforts to influence education and secular life have drawn criticism from rights groups and members of minority faiths.
Western-style holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween have also gained popularity since the Soviet collapse opened up Russia to the world.
On the other side
UK men are choosing sexy knickers over short-lived and often more pricey presents such as roses and champagne this Valentine’s Day as they seek a bigger “bang for their buck” in a tough economic climate.
“Lingerie is for love on a budget. It really is the gift that keeps giving,” said Sharon Webb, head of design at department store group Debenhams, which is seeing demand rocket for knickers priced at 4.50 pounds.
With a dozen red roses costing up to 100 pounds on Valentine’s Day, including delivery, some men are prepared to spend a little more on lingerie, and still feel they are saving.
Sales of designer brands carried by the retail chain have been rising from one year to the next in the run-up to Valentine’s Day, and Debenhams said the demand for silk and lace underwear this year again looked encouraging.