Saturday, June 15, 2024

Kazakhs Demand Reversal of Astana’s Decision to Impose Single Time Zone in Kazakhstan

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 9 – Kazakhstan, which extends more than 3,000 km east to west, has had two time zones since Soviet times; but on March 1, Astana, in the name of national unity, decreed that all regions operate would henceforth function within a single time zone. The results? Popular outrage and the possibility that the government will back down.

            The Russian Federation has a long history of protests about time zones and day light savings time adjustments, with the most recent outbursts taking place in 2010 when Moscow sought to reduce the number of times zones in Russia from 11 to nine, a decision popular anger led the center to reverse (

            Now something similar is taking place in Kazakhstan. According to the Fergana news agency, people in northeastern portions of the country are angry about a change which means they do not have as many hours of daylight after work as they did. And they are expressing their anger openly (

            Kazakhstan citizens have gathered 41,000 of the 50,000 signatures they need on a petition that would require the government to reverse course; and a government commission has been sent to the region to try to mollify the population by assuring that the government will listen to the people (

            Whether Astana will back down remains to be seen. It seems likely that it will. But the fact that protests have arisen over this issue is a clear example of  how black swan events can prove far more important that developments that commentators might expect to provoke the kind of protests no government can afford to ignore. 


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