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Russia won't turn back the clock

Mark Brown repairs a clock at Brown's Old Time Clock Shop March 6, 2007 in Plantation, Fla.

Jeremy Hobson: This weekend, clocks in Europe will fall back. It'll be another week for us here in the U.S. But in Russia, there will be no time change this year. Last March, the country moved to summer time was it has for the past 30 years and it's not going back.

From Moscow, Peter Van Dyk explains.


Peter van Dyk: Moscow's long winter is only just starting, but the sun has been up less than four hours as The Kremlin clock strikes mid-day.

By the end of the year, it will be 10 o'clock before Muscovites see the sun. That's because this year, Russia will not "fall back" to winter time. The final part of President Dmitry Medvedev's time reforms puts Russia forever on summer time.

The stress of changing the clocks forward and back is bad for our bodies, Medvedev says. And that's not to mention the poor cows, he jokes, who don't know when they are going to get milked.

If the cows are confused, they can blame the farmers. Andrei Panin is a geography professor at Moscow State University. He says when the world's time zones were agreed on in 1884, they were designed for life on the farm. He says that these days, permanent summer time matches most Russians' daily schedule.

Andrei Panin: About half of the territory of Russia and about two-thirds or three-quarters of the population will live now throughout the whole year between one to two hours ahead of solar time, which fits well from my point with the lifestyle of an industrial society.

But being an hour further ahead of the U.S. and Europe might not be so good for business. Kirill Yankovskiy is an equities trader at Unicredit Bank in London. He says it creates problems for Russia's stock market.

Kirill Yankovskiy: It not only separates, but it just gives an extra reason for people to focus on London.

Worse, Yankovskiy says, Russian trading will be even further out of step with New York. Right now, there's a one-and-a-half hour overlap, but an hour of that will be lost when New York switches to winter time. There's a danger that Medvedev moving Russia out of sync with the West could leave Russian traders and markets in the dark.

In Moscow, I'm Peter van Dyk for Marketplace.

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