There was a children’s party in Novopolotsk, on Sunday, 20 December. Parents and children gathered at the Christmas tree, local resident Vladimir donned Ded Moroz‘ [aka Santa Clause] outfit. A few hours later at least two men were detained for participating in a “protest action” and taken to the police, one of them is Ded Moroz, the other is a candidate of historical sciences, associate professor of Polotsk State University Viktor Yakubov.
Vladimir works at a thermal power plant, and in his free time, he dresses up as a “grandfather” to bring happiness to children.
However, that Sunday evening something went wrong: “When I left the place, I took off my Ded Moroz costume and got into my car. I drove away from the square, went to the grocery store on the way home. On the way out, I was detained and taken to the Novopolotsk сity department of internal affairs.”
While Vladimir was at the police, his wife was waiting for him in the car [she was the Snow Maiden at the party]. In a police courtyard, the car was examined and taken away on suspicion of auto theft. According to the man, the police officers behaved correctly, many were also surprised at what had happened.
“They just followed the order they were given. They asked if I shouted slogans. But I worked with children. Children did not shout slogans – they sang songs, recited poetry. I treated them to sweets, bought at my own expense. They checked my biography, checked whether I took part in the recent rallies. I did not take part in them. I also shared my thoughts on what was happening to me with an obscene word [in a censored version, it sounds like “I’m in shock.”], to which they replied: ‘Well, you know what country we live in.'”
Vladimir notes that before that he always believed that he was living in a normal country. The police officers tried to convince the man that what was happening at the Christmas tree was an action.
“I was asked if I saw white-red-white flags. I said that one grandfather was walking with it. I think this is not the first time I have seen him, but what he walks with is his own business. No one shouted any slogans. Long story short, this is insanity.”
At the police station, Vladimir saw several other detainees. However, he does not know their names and can’t say whether they were just at the children’s party too. Vladimir has dressed up as Ded Moroz for several years now. Usually, he comes to visit relatives and friends who ask him about it.
“I have many friends and colleagues who ask me to come to visit them. I always wish children a Happy New Year on the eve of the holidays. I myself have grandchildren, daughters, many nephews. Children need to have fun. This year it was my personal desire.
All these things happening in the country traumatize children, scare them. What kind of a generation will grow up? People with distrust of everything? This is just my personal opinion. They ruin and break the festivities for kids. There are not many bright days nowadays,” says Vladimir.
The police department of the Vitebsk regional executive committee was unable to promptly comment on this case.