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18 Nov, 2009 10:32

Medvedev suggestion of time zones cut sparks controversy

The suggestion by President Medvedev to reduce Russia's eleven time zones has sparked intense debate across the country.

In his address to the Federal Council, Dmitry Medvedev suggested that Russia’s 11 time zones be cut, in order to make managing the country more effective.

The Russian leader gave examples of the USA and China, which have five zones and unified time respectively.

While many say a change could be too expensive and may be dangerous for people’s health, for others the existing time difference means daily confusion.

It is six in the morning, but everyone in the Skachkov family is already up.

The boys hate getting up early the most, but have little choice if they want to get to school on time. The clock in their kitchen is always one hour ahead.

“It is still very dark when we wake up,” said one of the boys, Vladislav. “It feels like it's still night and we feel sleepy.”

The reason for the weird time shift is simple – the village Skachkovs live in is in one region and the school is in another. And both are in different time zones.

Patients coming from the same village to the town doctor's office always get a reminder not to be late.

Locals on both sides of the time border have got used to it, even seeing the bright side. Like the fact the shop in the village closes one hour later than the one in the nearby town.

While for residents of the village a time zone reduction might look like e a good option, some scientists say the change may be too expensive and difficult a matter.

According to Sergey Korotayev of Russian Academy of Science Physics Institute, time zone reduction in such a vast territory as Russia would be a completely ineffective measure.

“It will lead to an almost six-hour time change in Kamchatka and Chukotka and people will start working at 12 or 1pm instead of 8-9am. It is very inconvenient,” he said.

Korotayev also noted that as a result, energy companies will suffer huge losses both in terms of money and resources.

“As a result of unnatural time shift, more oil and gas will be used to produce electricity and the companies will be against it,” Korotayev noted.

Geographer Dmitry Ovechkin said that if decision to change the Russian time zone system is made, the change will not happen quickly.

“These borders were made by different people in different times. Nevertheless we got used to them this way, even if the picture is unjustifiably difficult. Rearranging it may take several years,” he said.