Excuse me, what time is it?
Nobody in Russia knows what time it will be after October 28. Fixed summertime like today, permanent wintertime, or a switch between the two. The State Duma has to find a way out of the current time-confusing situation.
Last year’s reform with permanent summertime was not such a good idea after all. Now, it could go the other way around to permanent wintertime.
A bill was submitted to the State Duma on Thursday suggesting to reverse the reform by ex-President Dmitri Medvedev. That reform gave most Russians darker mornings and lighter afternoons during the winter period.
The permanent summertime caused huge challenges for people living at the Kola Peninsula during December and January. As late as around 11 o’clock in the morning it was still dark outside. For cross-border travelers between Norway and Russia in the north, the challenges were even larger. The land-border between the two countries became the only in Europe with a three hour time difference.
If the bill is approved, Russia will switch over to permanent wintertime from October 28. But, it might very well be another result after the bill is debated. Due to the uncertainties, it is for instance difficult to buy a train ticket in Russia for a train departing after October 26. A train travels 35 hours from Moscow to Murmansk, or even 7 days towards Vladivostok. On Friday, Russia’s railwway halted ticket sales for trains leaving after October 26 amid confusion created by the authorities' failure to decide in good time whether to put the clocks back this winter.
The author of the law proposal is Sergei Kalashnikov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Health Protection.
"We suggest moving the clock one hour backwards to set winter time, and then 54 territories in Russia will live in an astronomically correct time zone, while a seasonable change of the time zone to summer time should be dropped," Kalashnikov says to Itar-Tass.
Ex-President Medvedev argued last year that daylight saving caused unnecessary stress for Russia’s population. His successor, Vladimir Putin, told Interfax that he had no interest in continuing with permanent summertime.
“Something might not have been thought through,” Putin said.
The time difference over the Norwegian, Russian border will, if the new bill is approved, be two hours during the winter period and then only one hour when Norway and the rest of Europe in March 2013 switch to summertime.