What Time is it? Russia's Medvedev Resists Change
When will the sun come up today? In Russia, it's a matter of fierce debate, and one that may reflect the sinking stature of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Medvedev declared Thursday that he has no immediate intention of reversing his decision to leave Russia's clocks on summer time the whole year.
The move he made in 2011 when he was president has been widely unpopular as it has plunged the sprawling nation into darkness until late morning throughout the winter.
And now it's not clear how long that decree will actually last.
Medvedev's mentor, Vladimir Putin, who returned to the presidency in May after spending four years in the premier's seat due to term limits, has indicated that Russia could switch back the time soon.
Putin said in December that sticking permanently to summer time would make it difficult for TV audiences in Europe to watch the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The games — on track to be the most expensive Olympics ever, even more than the Summer Games in London and Beijing — are known to be close to Putin's heart.
On Thursday, the daily Izvestia newspaper that kowtows to Putin said the Cabinet already had made the decision to switch Russia permanently to winter time and that a decree will be issued soon.
The government quickly denied the report, and then Medvedev himself told a cabinet session that he sees no point in switching the clock now.
"The government considers it unfeasible to again switch time at the current moment," Medvedev said, adding that public opinion has been divided. "Let's not make sharp movements and live in those conditions without making extra fuss. Let's keep monitoring the situation and once again analyze the opinion of experts, doctors and citizens."
The switch to summer time is one of the few of Medvedev's reforms that has survived Putin's return to the presidency.
Since Putin came back, most of Medvedev's initiatives — from decriminalizing slander to ousting government officials from the boards of state-controlled companies — have been methodically reversed.
Putin's harsh course has contrasted sharply with Medvedev's modernization platform. The president has backed a series of repressive bills that introduced heavy fines for those joining unsanctioned protests and imposed new tough restrictions on groups promoting democratic rights.