It is so cold in Moscow that some traffic lights are not working, cash machines have broken down, and steel tramlines have become so brittle they have snapped. Even Russians are not used to this, with temperatures down to minus 35 degrees celsius.
Newspapers are full of helpful tips, like putting goose fat on your cheeks to ward-off frostbite. The energy firms are feeling the pinch as Russians use more power than ever. State gas giant Gazprom has reportedly had to cut back supplies to Italy and Hungary as it struggles to meet demand. “At the moment our capabilities on extraction and supply of gas are at maximum capacity. The daily extraction of gas from underground storage facilities has hit a historic high,” said Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov. In western Russia at least 24 people have died from the cold in last few days. But that has not stopped some hardy souls from celebrating the Russian Orthodox Epiphany by symbolically washing away their sins in icy water.