Soviets Get Clocks Back on Track--and It’s About Time

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Red-faced Soviet officials are admitting they haven’t kept the correct time in more than six decades, blaming a mistake in the Stalin era when clocks should have been turned back an hour.

As a result, officials are scrapping the Soviet version of daylight-saving time this summer. Clocks, however, will still “fall back” an hour in the autumn.

All this timekeeping havoc is bound to further baffle a nation that has had its share of confusion for 1991.


March 31 is when clocks usually are moved forward an hour for summer time in the Soviet Union, which has 11 time zones.

But the Council of Ministers has decreed that the move won’t be made for most of the Soviet Union--the huge Russian Federation, which includes Moscow; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Byelorussia; Turkmenia and the Ukraine.

The republics of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova, however, will follow their rebellious tradition and move their clocks ahead as before.

To confound the masses even more, Tadzhikistan, parts of Kazakhstan and some other regions will actually set their clocks back an hour to better organize daylight hours, the decree said.

According to the newspaper Evening Moscow, the move was made to correct a 61-year-old mistake.

“In 1930, it was decided to introduce summer time and move the hands of clocks one hour ahead,” the paper said. “In the passage of time, they did not announce winter time” in the fall of 1930, leaving the country with a single time year-round.


In 1981, it was decided to restore the seasonal time change. But when the clocks were moved forward an hour that spring, the country wound up with two extra hours of sunlight during summer instead of the intended one.

Officials figured that the end of March--the regular date to move clocks ahead--was the best time to correct the imbalance.

“On March 31, one should not move the hands of the clock ahead, but go to bed as usual,” the newspaper advised.