Ten p.m. in Crimea suddenly became midnight, as a crowd in Simferopol watched the railway station clock advance two hours to Moscow time.
The event Saturday night meant Crimea and Moscow now share a time zone, a symbolic but important experience. In newly-acquired Crimea, Russia is controlling currency, paying government employees and controlling time. The change of clocks is indicative of Ukraine’s release of Crimea.
Russia, a country spanning nine international time zones takes its time-keeping seriously. In 2011 it moved from a twice-yearly changing of the clocks, to accommodate daylight savings time, to a permanent summer time. Then-President Dmitry Medvedev justified the change, citing statistics indicating an increase in heart attacks and suicides in the period of time-changing.
It has confused laptop computers and other devices with automatic time-changing functions, and a law returning Russia to permanent winter time is under consideration in the state Duma.
A sudden, two-hour time shift in Crimea could still cause some confusion. The Crimean newspaper Krymskaya Gazeta warned the shift could lead to “health problems such as sleep disorder, apathy, depression and possible changes to the endocrine system.”