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Young Kazakhs Embrace Sweethearts Day

This group of students got into Kozy Korpesh and Bayan Sulu Day, dressing in Kazakh national costumes at the invitation of the Dostoyevsky museum in Semei on April 17. (Photos courtesy of Tatiana Titaeva.)
Spring is in the air, and love is breaking out all over.

This week, it's Kazakhstan's turn.

The Kazakh ministries of Education and Information last year declared April 15 Sweethearts Day in that country. The effort -- which is also known as Kozy Korpesh and Bayan Sulu Day after a centuries-old tale of two star-crossed lovers -- is a homegrown response to Valentine's Day, which was slowly picking up steam among Kazakh young people.

Sado, a contributor to the NGO network, described official scorn for love as a Western import:

The head of the department of educational work in the education department of Almaty Katipa Moldabayeva said, "During this day there will be various contests and competitions. The date of the Valentine's Day was intentionally moved to promote national holidays and traditions. Kazakhstan Valentine's Day will have a profound educational sense, so that the West would learn from us."

Moldabayeva noted on February 14th in the city's schools there would not be celebrated Valentine's Day anymore. She says that they received different complaints from parents who were outraged by holding this festival.

But a group of secondary school students from Zubair in East Kazakhstan made a day of it, traveling to Semei for a poetry challenge in front of the F.M. Dostoyevsky Literary Memorial Museum. (After prison, Dostoyevsky was exiled as a soldier to the garrison at Semei, better known as Semipalatinsk.)

The ensuing lyrical battle -- for hearts and lines -- was all in fun, as a report by our Kazakh Service and these photos from the event show.

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