SOCHI, September 26 (Itar-Tass) - It is already impossible to pass a decision on switching the clocks in Russia one hour back before the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak told reporters Thursday.
Decisions on a temporary changeover to what used to be standard zonal time prior to its abolition in March 2011 could have been done before February 1, 2013, when the organizers of the Olympic Games and the broadcasting companies finalized agreements on live coverage of the sports events in Sochi from February 7 through to February 23, 2014, he said.
“As for this moment, all the decisions have been endorsed and all the agreements for televised coverage of the Games proceed from the system of times in effect at present,” Kozak said. “I can tell you definitely it’s already impossible to shift the clocks back.”
Last week, a bill on reintroducing the previous standard zonal times in Russia was submitted to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, and sources familiar with the situation said the MPs might consider it in the first reading sometime in October.
One of the reasons cited by the proponents of reinstitution of the so-called “winter time” /standard zonal time as opposed to the “summer” daylight saving time”/ is that the Western media community has been complaining over too broad a time lag between Russia and the Western countries, which means that live programs from Sochi will arrive in the West too early and millions of potential spectators will simply be unable to watch them.
Kozak said the organizers of the Olympic Games would do their best to convince the MPs to put off the changeover to the old “winter time” - for the period of the Games as a minimum.
Russia canceled the seasonal transitions of time on the last Sunday of March and the last Sunday of October in spring 2011 when the daylight saving time was fixed permanently and turned into a universal time on a vast space from Kamchatka in the East to the Baltic exclave region of Kaliningrad in the West.
Ever since then, debates over whether the measure was correct or erroneous do not die down. Many opponents point out the specificity of Russia's geographic situation, saying most densely populated and heavily industrialized areas in the country are located rather high up north and dawn in the wintertime occurs there when regular activities at educational institutions, factories, commercial companies and state organizations is already in full swing.
They also indicate that the 'springboard' standard zonal time in this country was moved one hour ahead of the actual astromic time by a governmental decree in 1930 so as to eliminate the necessity for seasonal changeovers, and this means that under the current system of times the Russians have to live two hours ahead of their astronomic time.
A research of public opinion done by the VCIOM sociological center in February 2011 showed that the majority of Russians /73%/ supported the decision to abolish the seasonal shifts of time and to fix the daylight saving time forever. A year later, the percentage these respondents dropped to 44% and it slimmed further to 35% in 2013.