Russian city bans Valentine's Day

Picture used for illustrative purposes only. (GETTY IMAGES)

Russian city banned Valentine's Day celebrations, amid fears Tuesday that the festival could undermine the country's cultural traditions.

Belgorod, in southwestern Russia, will not organize Feb. 14 celebrations because it would threaten "spiritual safety," according to a decree signed by the city's deputy governor, Oleg Polukhin.

"Society has to think about the consequences," said Grigory Bolotnov, from the department for relations with social and religious bodies, citing fears that many people see the romantic holiday as an excuse to get drunk.

"We could have just as well have introduced a Vodka Day," he told The (London) Times. "Marking this sort of holiday means that tomorrow we could end up creating other celebrations, such as a National Beer Day or a Day of Marijuana."

Bolotnov said the ban extended only to public celebrations and that individuals would not be prevented from exchanging tokens of love privately.

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