Tags: Russia | time | zone | four

Russia Mulls Cutting 11 Time Zones to Four

Wednesday, 02 Dec 2009 01:19 AM


MOSCOW – President Dmitri Medvedev hasn’t enjoyed much success in efforts to reform Russia’s top-heavy political system since he entered the Kremlin more than a year ago, but he might have better luck at tweaking the laws of nature.

Russians can’t seem to stop buzzing about a seemingly oddball idea tossed out by Mr. Medvedev in his recent State of the Nation address, in which he suggested that major political and economic benefits could be achieved by slashing the number of time zones that delineate Russia’s vast expanse from the current 11 to as few as four.

“It has been customary for Russians to take pride in the number of our time zones, which seem to us a vivid symbol of our country’s greatness,” Medvedev said. “But have we ever stopped to think seriously about whether dividing our country this way makes it harder to manage it effectively?…. We should examine the possibility of reducing the number of time zones.”

The proposal has drawn praise from some, mainly government officials who view time differences as an obstacle to smooth administration. Others hoot with derision, including many scientists who say they can’t see why a politician should try meddling with timekeeping.

“The Earth rotates and the sun rises and sets” according to astronomical laws, says Nikolai Kasimov, dean of the geography faculty at Moscow State University. “We’ve been living with this system for some time, and I haven’t heard anyone complaining about it. There is no public movement demanding that time zones be changed.”

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