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Dmitri Medvedev and Vladimir Putin

Putin turns back the clock to see the light

RobK(Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Medvedev2008)

In another snub to his predecessor, Russia's President Vladimir Putin has decided that seasonal time changes will be reintroduced at the end of October. Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev abolished winter time and reduced the number of time zones covering the vast country to nine in 2011 when he was head of state.

Medvedev's move led to widespread protests from Russians who said that daylight saving time was ill-suited to the winter season, when they would have to rise and go to work in darkness. Many time zones were two hours ahead of the solar time, with the sun not reaching its zenith until two o'clock in the afternoon. Although undoing this measure can be seen as another dent in the Putin-Medvedev tandem, the damage to the prime minister's career is not fatal. Medvedev remains the leader of United Russia, the conservative party which holds a 238-seat majority in the 450-member Duma and is a staunch supporter of Putin's policies. 

During his campaign for re-election Putin had pledged to reinstate winter time. The Duma, Russia's parliament, is discussing the measure and is expected to adopt it in the coming month. That will clear the way for the clocks to be moved back one our at the end of October, giving Russians back their much needed daylight on winter mornings, until March when the hour hands are readjusted to return to summer time.

European summer time
In addition to the advantages perceived by the Russian electorate, the seasonal time switch also brings Moscow in step with Europe, where switchover dates were synchronised in 1981 to facilitate the scheduling of international flights. It was also assumed that longer evenings would lead to energy savings, and would reduce traffic accidents in the evening. Many studies have been done since, but significant changes in energy use or road safety have not been found.

This year European summer time will end on 28 October, when the clocks go back one hour. Summer time returns on 31 March 2013. - (IEDE)

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