Kazakhstan zones

Gwillim Law RLAW at nc.rr.com
Fri May 20 20:09:39 UTC 2005

> In the beginning of the article however it is clearly stated that
> "is situated in the fourth and fifth time zones in relation with
> HELP!!
> Oscar van Vlijmen
> 2005-05-13

It appears that we're still uncertain about the current state of
Kazakhstan's time zones.  I've tried to gather all the evidence we've seen
so far and draw the most likely conclusions.  Excuse me if this message is
too verbose or detailed.  Since there are so many contradictions in the
evidence, I had to reason on a very basic level.

The main sources I looked at were:
A.  http://www.kazsociety.org.uk/news/2005/03/30.htm - Kazakhstan Society in
the U.K., based on embassy report
B.  http://www.kazakhembus.com/031705.html - Kazakhstan Embassy in the U.S.
(same text as the previous source)
C.  http://eng.gazeta.kz/art.asp?aid=47715 - gazeta.kz report dated
D.  http://www.inform.kz/showarticle.php?id=86783 - Kazinform report dated
2004-07-27 at 14:07
E.  http://www.kazakhstanembassy.org.uk/cgi-bin/index/55 - Kazakhstan
Embassy in the U.K.
F.  http://www.kazakhstanembassy.be/Kazakhstan.asp - Kazakhstan Embassy in
the Belgium
G.  The Official Airline Guide online
H.  The CIA World Factbook time zone maps from various years

The regions (oblysy) of Kazakhstan that are mentioned can be divided into
four groups, listed roughly from west to east below.
1.  47° to 56° E:  Atyrau (a.k.a.  Ateransk, Gur'yev), Mangghystau (Aktau,
Mangyshlak, Shevchenko), and West Kazakhstan (Batys Qazaqstan, Oral,
Ural'sk, Zapadno-Kazakstan) regions.  Tz database equivalent:  Asia/Aqtau
and Asia/Oral (both of which have been on UTC+4 since 1995).
2.  54° to 64° E:  Aqtöbe (Aktobe, Aktyubinsk) region.  Asia/Aqtobe, UTC+5
according to the tz database.
3.  58° to 67° E:  Qostanay (Kustanai) and  Qyzylorda (Kzyl-Orda) regions.
Asia/Qyzylorda, UTC+6
4.  63° to 87° E:  Remainder of Kazakhstan, including Astana, the capital,
and Almaty.  Asia/Almaty. UTC+6
All of these areas have followed RussiaAsia DST rules since 1992 or earlier,
until the termination of DST in 2005.

In the first place, be aware that when a Kazakh source says "plus" it may
mean "minus".  For example, C says, "in the West of Kazakhstan there will be
the Astana time plus 2 hours".  There is no reason on earth why western
Kazakhstan would have a later standard time than eastern Kazakhstan.
Perhaps the logic is that when it's noon in Astana, you have to wait another
two hours before it's noon in West Kazakhstan.

A and B say that the government issued a decree on 2005-03-15 cancelling
daylight saving time.  None of the other sources seem to be in disagreement.
There are also many sources that agree that Astana was and still is on UTC+6
as its standard time.

C and D both say that one of Kazakhstan's three time zones will be

D says pretty clearly that, after the change, group 1 will be two hours
ahead of group 4.  Its most ambiguous statement is, "Henceforth Aktobe
oblast is to enter into the given time belt," where it's not entirely clear
which time zone is the "given" one.  The previous sentence was about the
time zone of group 1.  If that is the "given time belt", then group 2 will
be placed in the same time zone as group 1.

C has the most information.  It also has two contradictory statements.  It
says, "The order established that the territory of RK is situated in the
fourth and fifth time zones in relation with Greenwich", but also "...in the
West of Kazakhstan there will be the Astana time plus 2 hours."  Since there
is ample evidence that Astana's standard time is UTC+6, the "fifth time
zone" is very likely a typo.

C also says, "The time zones will be divided by the Aktobe province Eastern
border...."  The only explanation consistent with Kazakhstan's geography is
that groups 1 and 2 will form one time zone and groups 3 and 4 will be the

Next, C says, "Previously there were 3 time zones in Kazakhstan.  [We knew
that.]  But in Kostanai, Kyzylorda, and Aktobe provinces the Astana time
plus 1 hour functioned.  [This says that groups 2 and 3 were one hour
earlier than group 4, i.e. UTC+5.  The tz database says that group 3 has
been on UTC+6 since 1992.]  However the daylight hours were not used
efficiently in those provinces. The Astana time was functioning in fact in
Kostanai and Kyzylorda provinces to simplify the administrative work."  The
explanation seems to be that group 3 was de jure UTC+5, de facto UTC+6.

Finally, C says, "To introduce changes in the measuring of time there will
be no transfer to winter time in Kostanai and Kyzylorda province [group 3]
in 2004 and to summer time in Aktobe province [group 2] in 2005."  Is it now
talking about de jure or de facto time in group 3?  Remember, C is dated
July 2004, when DST was in effect, so local clocks in group 3 would have
been set to UTC+7 de facto.  Group 4 set its clocks back from UTC+7 to UTC+6
on  2004-10-31.  If group 3 did not set its clocks back, it would still be
on UTC+7, an hour later than Astana, which is absurd.  So the sentence must
be referring to de jure time in group 3.  That means that group 3 was on
UTC+6 during the summer of 2004 and remained on UTC+6 when group 4 returned
to its standard time of UTC+6 in October 2004.  Groups 3 and 4 would then
stay on the same time ever after.

As for group 2, if it didn't set its clocks ahead an hour in spring 2005
while group 1 did, the two groups would then be in synch.  The end result
would be that groups 1 and 2 would have UTC+4 as their standard time, and
groups 3 and 4 would have UTC+6.  This fits in well with the conclusion I
drew from D.

However, when C was written, no one knew that Kazakhstan was going to
abandon DST.  As it turned out, group 1 didn't turn its clocks ahead in
spring 2005, which spoiled the plan to bring it into synch with group 2.
What is the backup plan?  I don't have any evidence on that point, but if I
were in charge, I would have decreed that group 2 should set its clocks back
an hour (from UTC+5 to UTC+4) on 2005-03-27 at midnight.

Summarizing my conclusions from these sources, a new row should be added to
the Asia/Aqtobe zone, with 4:00 as the offset from UTC.  The previous row
should have an end date of 2005 Mar 27, if my guess is right.

Source E is fully consistent with these conclusions.  F only says that
Kazakhstan has three time zones, and since its copyright date is 2004, we
can assume that it was written before these changes were decided on.  G
agrees that there are two time zones, and that the western one consists of
groups 1 and 2; however, it says that the time in the western zone is UTC+5,
not UTC+4.  Earlier printed versions of the Official Airline Guide showed
Kazakhstan with three time zones, consistent with the tz database.  H is
noncommittal about DST, but it shows Kazakhstan divided into two zones, with
groups 1 and 2 on UTC+5 and groups 3 and 4 on UTC+6.  Therefore, G and H are
in agreement, and they say that the western zone is UTC+5 in contradiction
to the other sources which say it's UTC+4.

One fact that calls H into question, though, is that it has been wrong in
the past.  As far back as I've checked, the CIA World Factbook time zone
maps have split Kazakhstan into only two zones, UTC+5 and UTC+6.  The
western zone consisted of groups 1, 2, and 3 in the 1992 edition.  Later on,
Qostanay (part of group 3) was switched to the eastern zone; then, between
the 1999 and 2000 editions, Qyzylorda (the remainder of group 3) was also
switched to the eastern zone.  The current edition's map is dated March
2005, but it doesn't show any changes in Kazakhstan since 2000, so it may
not reflect recent changes.

That's the best I can do for now.  If other sources turn up, we may have to
reconsider again.

--    Gwillim Law

More information about the tz mailing list