Hawaii to Siberia trip chills Russia's Medvedev
President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday endured a 60 degree change in temperature after flying from the tropical surf paradise of Hawaii to a Russian region that is home to the coldest settlement on Earth.
After bidding farewell to world leaders at the Asia Pacific Cooperation Summit in Hawaii in temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius, Medvedev headed to Yakutsk in Russia where he found the weather a freezing minus 30 degrees.
"The APEC summit has finished. I have arrived in Yakutsk. From +30 to -30," he wrote laconically on his Facebook page.
Yakutsk, 8,500 kilometres east of Moscow, is the main city of the vast diamond-mining region of Yakutia which is only slightly smaller than India. Also known as the Sakha Republic, it is home to the Turkic Yakut people.
The region is officially the location of to the world's coldest inhabited settlement, the village of Oimyakon, where temperatures of almost minus 70 have been recorded.
Bravely doing without a hat in the ferocious cold, Medvedev opened a section of railway that will finally connect Yakutia to the main Trans-Siberian railway to the south, state television pictures showed.
"This is the most northerly railway to become part of our great Fatherland's network," Medvedev said at the opening, according to the Kremlin website.
"This is a colossal event for the inhabitants of Yakutia and all the inhabitants of our country. The main thing that we have to do is to say thank you to everyone who have built this track."
He told the workers: "In conditions of permafrost, in the harshest conditions of the Russian climate you continued this work to the end."
The rail line terminates in the settlement of Nizhny Bestyakh just over the Lena river from Yakutsk and Medvedev promised that it would eventually be connected to the main city itself.
© 2011 AFP