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No New Year's Toasts In Sauna, Russians Urged

MOSCOW -- Russia has urged revelers celebrating the New Year in saunas tonight to refrain from popping open the Champagne until they have left the steam houses, warning it could prove fatal.

"I would like to make the following recommendation: drink after being in the sauna, not when inside," Interfax news agency quoted Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying on New Year's Eve.

"Maybe this sounds funny...But many people die in saunas," he added.

Enthusiastic sauna visitors, Russians often drink beer or vodka in the wood-paneled huts and hold alcohol-fueled New Year's celebrations in the thousands of steam rooms and bath houses across the country.