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?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor