Growing number of brave Siberians strip off for the winter, with debate raging about the benefits of taking to the snow and ice naked.
In recent years Siberians have loved nothing more than getting almost naked during the frozen winter months. Picture: I am Siberian
They have caused a sensation on the Internet by taking to the great outdoors wearing scant little other than a smile or a revealing swimming costume.
From the ski slopes to the beach, and the city streets to the rivers, in recent years Siberians have loved nothing more than getting almost naked during the frozen winter months.
Most recently, pictures of the beautiful Maria Berezovskaya strolling along wearing only a hat and shoes at -30C went viral on the Russian web.
But her posing also sparked debate over the trend of growing numbers of people stripping off, with many heralding the supposed health benefits, and others saying it sets a 'bad example'.
Following Maria's photo shoot, with professional photographer Elizaveta Shaburova in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, social network sites praised her bravery.
One user joked: 'Usually mothers beg their daughters to put hats on when going outside in the cold; she obviously took good care of that advice and kept her hat on.'
Beautiful Maria Berezovskaya strolling along wearing only a hat and shoes at -30C'. Picture: Elizaveta Shaburova
But others said it was 'a stupid decision' and 'an invitation for all sorts of illnesses'.
However the photographer herself defended the shoot and insisted: 'There is no reason to worry about Masha's health. We did the shoot extremely quickly, and she had every means to keep warm. Even though it was cold, we had lots of fun and equally enjoyed the pictures that came out of it.'
This winter it seems that stripping off outside has become a craze with Siberians, and while some have been doing it simply for fun, many say it actually has health and fitness benefits.
Posing on the banks of a freezing river in Novosibirsk in her swimming costume, Viktoria Smolina is a big advocate of outdoor relaxation sessions in the snow.
Images of the 27-year-old sunbathing on a towel also went viral on the Russian internet and have shown that Siberians can have fun, no matter the weather.
She has even produced a video showing Siberians enjoying unusual activities in the winter, including swimming in icy water, running in the snow, and pouring buckets of cold water over their heads outdoors.
Posing on the banks of a freezing river in Novosibirsk in her swimming costume, Viktoria Smolina is a big advocate of outdoor relaxation sessions in the snow. Pictures: Ekaterina Marinina
Victoria, who was born in Novosibirsk but is now based in Moscow, told the Siberian Times: 'I have been getting myself used to the cold for several years. I have cold showers, which improve health and helps me to tolerate frosts better. I recommend it to everyone.
'The Siberian climate might seem difficult to a newcomer because of its sharply continental character, in which temperature can jump 20C within a day, where summers can be really hot, up to 45C, and winters can be bitterly cold, down to -50 and sometimes below.
'What I want to say is that living in such a climate can, in fact, do wonders to your health. I try to be an advocate to this theory, living for years without drinking alcohol, doing sport and eating healthy foods which in itself helps improve health.
'But another important aspect is in taking the best you can out of the cold climate; you should embrace the cold rather than running away from it.'
In April 2013, 700 men and women set a world record at the Sheregesh ski resort for the number of people skiing in only their bikinis or swimming costumes.. Pictures: The Siberian Times
In April 2013, 700 men and women set a world record at the Sheregesh ski resort for the number of people skiing in only their bikinis or swimming costumes. On a gloriously sunny, if chilly, day they took to the slopes wearing colourful outfits, smashing the previous record, held by Canada by almost 500 people.
'It felt great,' said Maria Kostrova, 21, from Tomsk, where eight months later a group of residents posed almost naked during a 'heatwave' that saw temperatures above freezing.
Tomsk locals posing outside in bikinis at -1C and at -34C. Pictures: Anton Perebeinos, Nikita Rusanov
Relaxing by the river with a picnic as if they were on a Caribbean beach, they emulated the feat a year earlier when the water was completely frozen at -34C.
Clearly, Siberians love the cold. And, judging by the evidence, who could blame them?
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