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1 Jan, 2021 17:38

Crimean senator tells Zelensky - return Ukraine to Moscow Time to recall days before it became ‘Europe’s most backward country’

Crimean senator tells Zelensky - return Ukraine to Moscow Time to recall days before it became ‘Europe’s most backward country’

As the last few hours of 2020 ticked away, Ukraine’s president urged Crimeans to “turn back the clock” and return to rule by Kiev. But one local leader says the troubled country would be better off adopting Russian time instead.

In his address to citizens in the Eastern European country on Thursday, Volodymyr Zelensky bemoaned the fact that those living in the disputed Crimea and Donbass regions would be celebrating the new year an hour earlier than Kiev.

Breaking into Russian, the dominant language of the breakaway former territories, he acknowledged that “Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea now live in every sense of the word in a different time.” “But,” he insisted, “it’s been almost an hour and you’ve been waiting for us to celebrate New Year’s Eve together. As one family, as one people, as one country. Donbass and Crimea, turn the clock back, be with us.”

Switching back to the Ukrainian language in which he had been giving his speech, Zelensky reiterated that he wants to be able to write that Crimea is Ukraine, “not on the internet, but in the sand on the beaches of Yalta.”

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His sentiments provoked a furious reaction on the disputed peninsula, with its representative on the Russian Federation Council, Sergey Tsekov, ridiculing the idea. Speaking to RIA Novosti on Friday, the senator said that “it would be better for Ukraine to set the clock to Moscow time instead.”

“Until 1991, Ukraine lived according to Moscow time and together with Russia,” he said. “It was a prosperous republic. But then it broke away from Russia, switched its watch to Kiev time and became the most backward country in Europe.”

Crimea was reabsorbed into Russia in 2014 after a local referendum that Ukraine insists was illegitimate. The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics also broke away from the continent’s second largest country, with bloody fighting throughout the region between militias made up mostly of local volunteers who desired closer ties with Russia, against pro-Kiev forces.

Later that year, residents in the three territories set their clocks forward by an hour, aligning with Moscow instead of Ukraine. Since then, authorities have ploughed funds into Crimea, which, after two decades of Kiev’s misrule, was Russia’s poorest region upon joining the Federation.

In November, a member of Zelensky’s own party and a native of the peninsula said that Crimea was better off under Russian governance. “A lot of people are satisfied and happy,” she conceded, adding that her hometown was now “unrecognizable” because of infrastructure spending and new construction.

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