[tz] Belarus is listed in MSK timezone

Tim Parenti tim at timtimeonline.com
Fri Apr 3 23:56:09 UTC 2015

On 1 April 2015 at 19:07, Paul Eggert <eggert at cs.ucla.edu> wrote:

> On 04/01/2015 01:09 PM, Tim Parenti wrote:
>> I cannot think of another case where we have applied the designation of a
>> neighboring country to a region that has not itself changed its timekeeping
>> rules.
> The situation here is not unprecedented.  The tz database used MSK/MSD for
> Europe/Minsk at UTC+3/4 even after Belarus's independence from the Soviet
> Union in July 1990.  And this continued a longstanding practice of using
> MSK/MSD to denote Minsk time at UTC+3/4, going all the way back to 1930.
> The conservative approach here is to continue to use the same abbreviation.

This doesn't really address my inquiry, which was aimed at identifying
other areas of the world where similar situations have occurred.
Soviet-era history aside (MSK is clearly appropriate there), the period of
roughly one year before Belarus adopted independent timekeeping in
September 1991 is not a particularly compelling point.

Moreover, if using MSK to denote Minsk time at UTC+3/4 has been
"longstanding practice", why didn't we refer to Minsk Time as MSK instead
of FET in 2011–2014?  The (hopefully obvious) answer is the ambiguity
caused by its geographic proximity to Moscow, which was behaving
differently.  (It also happens to be a politically charged issue, but
proximity alone has been enough to disambiguate before; see AEDT, etc.)

On 3 April 2015 at 18:03, Paul Eggert <eggert at cs.ucla.edu> wrote:

> The situation with MSK is not unprecedented.  For example, in the tz
> database PST stands for "Pacific Standard Time" in the United States, and
> for "Pitcairn Standard Time" in Pitcairn, and corresponds to UTC-8 in both
> countries.  This is entirely analogous to MSK standing for "Moscow time" in
> Russia and for "Minsk time" in Belarus and corresponding to UTC+3 in both
> countries.  For timekeeping purposes it's often a bit simpler to use the
> same abbreviation for the same UTC offset even if the abbreviation is
> ambiguous, and this hasn't been a significant technical problem in practice.

I would argue that the large distance between the areas covered by Pacific
Standard Time and Pitcairn Standard Time make this very different from the
cases of Minsk Time and Moscow Time here, which abut.

On 2 April 2015 at 07:26, Dzmitry Kazimirchyk <dkazimirchyk at gmail.com>

> If hypothetically Russia will announce time zone rules change putting
> Moscow back to UTC+4 again, what will change in TZ database: MSK time zone
> rules or time zone for the Russia's Moscow region? I assume in this case
> Belarus even if staying at UTC+3 will not remain in MSK time zone and MSK
> rules will be changed instead, like it already happened in the past.

Although reasoning about hypotheticals often breaks down, this concerns me
as well.  If Moscow futzes with its clocks five times in the next decade,
changing our reckoning MSK along with it, while Minsk leaves its clocks
alone, does it really make sense to change Minsk's abbreviation five
times?  What if Moscow only futzes three times?  What if just the once?

While we shouldn't be quick to create new designations, we created FET for
convenient grouping and it was selected because it was "unambiguous":

On 3 April 2015 at 19:32, Guy Harris <guy at alum.mit.edu> wrote:

> But if you don't want them downplayed, please suggest an abbreviation to
> use for Minsk time.

MINT and BYT have been repeatedly suggested in this thread, and have much
stronger backing from Theory than MSK for this purpose.

MINT and BYT were suggested as natural designations for Belarus at the time
FET was created, as well:

Tim Parenti
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