Moscow to shut Red Square on Dec 31

MOSCOW • The Red Square in Moscow, traditionally a place where people gather to ring in the New Year, will be closed to revellers on Dec 31, the city authorities said, amid mounting security concerns.

This year, police will turn back everyone who show up for the countdown to midnight sounded by the chimes on the Kremlin's tower clock, Moscow security chief Alexei Mayorov was cited as saying on the city hall's website.

The official reason given for the unprecedented closure of the square was the filming of a live concert for state-run Channel One television that only a select audience will be allowed to attend.

Mr Mayorov said the police would tell anyone else who wants to join in "that Red Square is closed for an event and that there are a lot of other places around where people can have a wonderful time".

Speaking to Kommersant radio, former lawmaker Alexander Klyukin said the surprise move was "the same as closing off Times Square in New York".

Moscow has introduced a raft of tighter security measures since the terror attacks in Paris last month. The attacks added to the nervousness caused by the downing of a Russian passenger plane over Egypt's Sinai in late October, killing 224 people in what Moscow says was an act of terror.

Metal detectors manned by security guards have been installed at the entrances to malls and carpark attendants have been given permission to check the trunks of suspicious vehicles. Russia's main television tower Ostankino was also sealed off with barbed wire this month.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2015, with the headline 'Moscow to shut Red Square on Dec 31'. Print Edition | Subscribe