Kiev tries to drag Crimea back in time
Friday 28 March 1997
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.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...