Russia schools ban 'cult of death' Halloween

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MOSCOW, Nov 1 (Reuters) Moscow schools have been ordered to ban students from celebrating Halloween despite the widespread popularity of the imported festival to Russia.

Halloween is being forced underground because it ''includes religious elements, the cult of death, the mockery of death,'' a spokesman for the city's education department Alexander Gavrilov said yesterday.

''It's not an attempt to block the celebration of this holiday completely, just in schools and colleges,'' he added.

Pumpkins and images of witches are widespread across Russia, with many bars organising special fancy dress parties, despite the efforts of the Kremlin, and especially the Russian Orthodox Church, to curb enthusiasm for non-native festivities.

''This is destructive for the minds and the spiritual and moral health of pupils,'' said Gavrilov.

REUTERS PD RAI0930

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