[tz] Belarus is listed in MSK timezone

Dzmitry Kazimirchyk dkazimirchyk at gmail.com
Wed Apr 1 19:37:36 UTC 2015

On 04/01/2015 09:28 PM, Paul Eggert wrote:
> I'm not sure about that theory.  If it were so, the English-language
> abbreviation would be "MSC", not "MSK", since English text almost
> invariably uses the spelling "Moscow".  And that theory wouldn't explain
> "MSD" either.  I expect the actual etymology was more complicated.

I doubt there is a better theory (any experts out there?). I guess the 
existing Russian abbreviation was transliterated directly into English 
without checking with English translation of the city name. I would 
explain MSD as *MS*K and *D*ST joined together and cut to three symbols.

> Regardless of the original etymology, in English "MSK" is a more-natural
> acronym for Minsk than it is for Moscow, and it has the advantage of
> being recognized as an alias for UTC+3 by a reasonably large set of
> software already (which is unwise, but there it is). The tz database is
> already on record as saying that time zone abbreviations are ambiguous
> and that software cannot reliably infer UTC offsets from the time zone
> abbreviations (e.g., "IST" stands for both India and Israel standard
> time).  The ambiguity of "MSK" is merely about location, not about both
> location and UTC offset, so it is more benign than ambiguities that have
> longstanding precedents in the database.

The main problem here is with MSK being both historically and nowadays 
widely known as "Moscow time" and absolutely zero public awareness of 
the fact that now it can also mean "Minsk time" in addition to lack of 
any official sources explaining that.

I can understand that some time zones may have got identical 
abbreviations due to historical reasons and usage in official documents, 
but I don't understand why there is a need to create more ambiguous 
names without any previous history of them being ambiguous (in fact 
deliberately choosing new ambiguous abbreviation while there are many 
other possible matches which are not ambiguous, e.g. MNS or MNT).

If it is an official IANA position on the matter, I am very 
disappointed. It is pretty much ignoring the fact of existence of 
sovereign time zone name of one country in favour of another countries' 
name. Having in mind the fact that it is "Moscow time" time which had 
its rules changed from UTC+4 to UTC+3 and not "Minsk time" which stayed 
the same, it makes this thing look even more biased.

Dzmitry Kazimirchyk

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