Russians rock around the clock on New Year in eleven time zones

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Moscow, Jan 1 (UNI) The New Year was ushered throughout Russia with people celebrating the advent of 2008 in the county's eleven time zones.

While the people in Russia's Far East were the first to welcome the arrival of 2008, those in Kaliningrad enclave in North-Central Europe were the last to receive it.

The contrast was especially remarkable for the occasion in Moscow.

While there was no snowfall in the Russian capital with temperature hovering around five degree Centigrade, avalanches were feared with heavy snow storms and gales sweeping through Russia's Kamchatka, in the Far East on the New Year.

The main venue for celebrations in Moscow was Red Square, where thousands of people gathered to take part in the New Year festivities.

However, people gathered at the Red Square were disappointed as there was no snowfall in Moscow.

''We very much miss the snow-covered trees,'' they said, pointing to the autumn-like weather in winter although the atmosphere there was special, with a chance to welcome the New Year at the heart of the capital.

Nobody seemed intent on an early night and revellers of all ages partied with new friends as well as old in one of the world's biggest New Year parties.

No alcohol was allowed on the Red Square and there was screening at all the major entrances. For around 12,000 visitors at the Red Square, there were 3,000 policemen.

Commenting on the warm weather, the chief of the Russian Meteorolgical Centre, Roman Vilfand said the year 2007 became the warmest in 150 years.

''It shows the climate warming obviously continuous,'' Mr Vilfand said.

Meanwhile, Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz), who is the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus) conveyed New Year greetings to the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) from the Flight Control Centre in Korolyov city in the Moscow region.

''With all my heart, I congratulate you on the New Year and wish you happiness, mutual understanding, love, health and success in your work,'' he told Russian cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko and NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Daniel Tani.

The crew celebrated the New Year with the recently arrived fresh fruits and vegetables.

However, champagne was not served, as alcohol is banned at the ISS.

UNI XC SHB BD2259

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