Kiev tries to drag Crimea back in time

Time is clearly of the essence in turbulent Crimea, where Ukraine's leaders have set a deadline of next Sunday for the peninsula's mainly Russian- speaking population to join the same time zone as the rest of Ukraine. "There cannot be two different times in one nation," said one exasperated aide to Ukraine's President, Leonid Kuchma, omitting to recall that his country was once part of the 11-time-zone Soviet Union.

Ukraine's time wars broke out in 1994, when the authorities in Kiev signalled their commitment to full independence from Russia by switching Ukrainian clocks one hour back from Moscow time. Crimea's ethnic Russian leaders at that time were demanding sovereignty for their peninsula, and in a show of defiance they kept their clocks on Moscow time.

The struggle, which has ticked on to this day, had some strange consequences. In the Crimean port of Sevastopol, the home of the disputed former Soviet Black Sea fleet, Ukrainian government officials would have to pass through a time zone if they wanted a meeting with pro-Russian naval officers whose quarters were only minutes away.

Perhaps sensing time was on their side, Mr Kuchma and the central government in Kiev steadily reasserted their authority over Crimea after 1994, whilst making little serious effort to abolish the rebel time zone. However, the government switched tactics last month, making it clear that it expected Crimeans finally to fall in line.

For those ready to concede that their time is up, it could not be easier to comply with the government's order. All they will need to do on Sunday is leave their clocks and watches alone. The government has decided to move forward one hour to daylight saving time, meaning that if Crimeans resist the temptation to adjust their timepieces, they will end up in the same time zone as the rest of Ukraine.

Whether that will reduce tensions in Crimea, or pave the way to more amicable Russian-Ukrainian relations in general, is another matter. Thousands of people attended rallies in Crimea 10 days ago where demonstrators demanded unification with Russia and condemned Ukraine's efforts to forge closer ties with Nato.

The presidium of Crimea's parliament passed a resolution on 16 March complaining that "gangster methods, such as intimidation, threats, beatings and liquidation of aides to MPs, are being openly used against those MPs and officials who favour Ukrainian statehood".

Meanwhile, the Kiev government's efforts to extend the use of Ukrainian has sparked a backlash in the Russian-populated eastern region of Donetsk, which has restored Russian to equal official status.

Mr Kuchma, who once supported closer ties with Russia but nowadays defends Ukrainian independence, made clear this week he was fed up with Russia's attempts to dominate the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the loose successor to the Soviet Union. "We want to see this structure as a community of equals," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...