'Ded Moroz' stabbed to death in Tajikistan
A young man dressed as "Grandfather Frost," or Ded Moroz - the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus - was stabbed to death in Tajikistan on Monday in an attack police believe was motivated by religious hatred, two police sources said, Reuters informs.
A crowd attacked 24-year-old Parviz Davlatbekov and stabbed him with a knife as he visited relatives in the early hours of Monday dressed as Father Frost, who by tradition brings Russian children presents at New Year. Russian cultural influence remains strong in Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic.
"We have witness statements that say the crowd beat Parviz and stabbed him with a knife, shouting: 'You infidel!'," one of the sources told Reuters.
The second source said religious hatred was being investigated as the motive for the crime, which occurred in the capital Dushanbe.
Tajikistan is officially secular, although the vast majority of its 7.7 million people are Muslims. Authorities have cracked down on religious freedoms in the last few years and jailed dozens of people for membership of Islamist groups.