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Russian Regions May Change Zonal Times Depending On Population's Wishes


A change of zonal time by minus one hour may take place in Russian regions at any moment depending on the wishes of their population, Russian President's aide Arkady Dvorkovich said Thursday.

"In separate regions, zonal time may be shifted by an hour at any moment if their populations expresses a wish for this," Dvorkovich said. "But more serious decisions won't be taken shortly."

Earlier, the chief of the Kremlin Administration staff, Sergei Naryshkin said the decision on a possible reduction of the number of time zones in Russia will be taken by the government.

"It's the government's task," he said.

"The President /Dmitry Medvedev/ set forth the task of scrutinizing the problem in detail and it's obvious that a slashing of some time zones is possible," Naryshkin said.

However, he found it difficult to say how many times zones should be left eventually in a country as huge as Russia.

At present, Russia has eleven time zones, one being Moscow Standard time minus one hour and all others being ahead of Moscow.

The Baltic exclave region of Kaliningrad is located in the zone of GMT + 2 hours. Moscow, St Petersburg and the greater part of European Russia are in the GMT + 3 hours zone.

The most geographically remote areas - Chukotka and Kamchatka - are located in the zone of GMT + 12 hours. The time gap between Moscow and the major cities of Siberia varies from three to five hours.

Some times zones in Siberia and the Far East do not reach the Arctic Circle. For instance, if you cross the administrative border between the Krasnoyarsk territory and the constituent republic of Yakutia-Sakha at the latitude of the Arctic Circle, you skip over a gap of two hours rather than one.

Thursday, President Medvedev said in a regular State-of-the-Nation Address to both houses of parliament that the government and experts should consider whether or not this density of time zones makes sense from the angle of view of efficient management of the national economy.

He also called for examining the situation from point of need for expensive technologies.

"Examples of other countries /U.S. or China/ show that shorter time gaps are quite possible, too," Medvedev said.

"The same concerns the rationality of transfers to Daylight Saving Time," he said. "We must carefully compare all the economic benefits and the apparent inconveniences."

"I hope experts will give us an unbiased - please note this word - unbiased answer to these questions," Medvedev said.

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