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Thousands Protest Time Zone Changes in Russia

Thousands gathered in eastern Russia to protest the proposed changes to the country’s time zones on December 11, 2010.

Group of people with arms raised above heads.

Eastern Russia against the time zone changes

©iStockphoto.com/Özgür Donmaz

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed time zone changes that would further cut the time difference between eastern Russia and Moscow.

The Protest

Over 3,000 residents of the Russian Far East gathered in the central square of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to protest the proposed time zone plans that would further cut the time difference between the region and Moscow. Protesters argue that the winter darkness occurs soon after noon and that the early night has a bad effect on the health and safety of its residents.

Petitions were circulated during the demonstration that requests the authorities of the country to re-adopt the old time zone where Kamchatka would be nine hours ahead of Moscow. The petition currently has more than 20,000 signatures. A similar demonstration also occurred in southeast Russia where about 500 people gathered at the government headquarters to protest the time zone changes in Samara.

Russia’s Time Zone Reform

A plan to reduce Russia’s time zones from 11 time zones to 9 was submitted to the State Duma in December 2009. Russia reduced the number of time zones earlier this year on March 28, 2010 after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed decrees to abolish the time zones of four Russian regions. As a result, the Kamchatka region did not observe daylight saving time (DST) so that it can cut its time difference with Moscow from nine to eight. This led to darker winters and an increase in electric energy consumption in schools and other institutions for that region.

Future plans for Russia’s time zone reform will require government officials and scientist to examine the consequences of the time reform in the five Russian regions, as well as the possible effects of eliminating daylight saving time in Russia. According to Russia’s President, Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s time zones may be further reduced in the future if the experiment proves to be a positive move and DST may be abolished by February 2011.

Time in Russia

Russia currently has nine time zones:

  • Kaliningrad Time (USZ1) - UTC +2 is observed in Kaliningrad Oblast.
  • Moscow Time (MSK) - UTC+3 is observed in most of European Russia. The Udmurt Republic and the Samara Oblast moved to the same time zone as Moscow on March 28, 2010.
  • Yekaterinburg Time (YEKT) - UTC+5 is observed in Bashkortostan, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Khantia-Mansia, Kurgan Oblast, Orengburg Oblast, Perm Krai, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Tyumen Oblast, and Yamalia.
  • Omsk Time (OMST) - UTC +6 is observed in Altai Krai, Altai Republic, Novosibirsk Oblast, Omsk Oblast, and Tomsk Oblast. The Kermerovo Oblast moved to the same time zone as Omsk Oblast on March 28, 2010.
  • Krasnoyarsk Time (KRAT) - UTC+7 is observed in Khakassia, Krasnoyarsk Krai and Tuva.
  • Irkutsk Time (IRKT) - UTC+8 is observed in Buryatia and Irkutsk Oblast.
  • Yakutsk Time (YAKT) - UTC+9 is observed in Amur Oblast, western Sakha Republic and Zabaykalsky Krai.
  • Vladivostok Time (VLAT) - UTC+10 is observed in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai, Primorsky Krai, central Sakha Republic, and Sakhalin Island.
  • Magadan Time (MAGT) - UTC+11 is observed in Magadan Oblast, eastern Sakha Republic, and Kuril Islands. The Kamchatka Krai and Chukotka moved to Magadan Time on March 28, 2010.

timeanddate.com will provide updates on the time zone reform in Russia when more information becomes available.