For years it has been said that Soviets were behind the times - and now we know!

Red-faced Soviet officials have admitted that they haven't kept the correct time in more than six decades, a mistake dating back to the Stalin era when clocks should have been turned back an hour.In 1930, the Soviets introduced summer time and moved the hands of the clocks one hour ahead - but then did not announce winter time in the fall of 1930. For unknown reasons, summer time was not reintroduced in the spring of 1931.

Then in 1981, summer time was again mandated, giving the country two extra hours of sunlight during the summer months.

So now in a frenzied effort to set things right, officials are skipping the Soviet version of daylight-saving time this summer - but clocks will still "fall back" an hour in the autumn.

In theory at least, this process will put their clocks back in sync.

That means that March 31st, the day on which clocks usually are moved forward an hour for summer time in 11 time zones, was to pass without a time change. The only problem is that in those well-known rebellious republics of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldavia - the ones that have rejected communism and want independence - clocks did move ahead just as before.

Even the decision to skip daylight-saving time was made in a time warp. The Soviet Cabinet adopted the change on Feb. 4 but didn't announce it until March 20, only a few days before clocks were to change.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that it explains a lot of things. The Soviets have been out of sync for about 61 years!

They have had a lot of trouble ever since the Stalin regime, when the dictatorship became especially authoritarian. After Stalin, the Soviet people tried to forget and even erase from their history books Stalin's barbaric actions.

Finally, in the current era, Gorbachev made an attempt to open up the system and democratize it. But he was not pleased with the results and tried to backtrack. Unfortunately for him, the rebellious republics still want independence, which has led Gorbachev to get tough again - like in Stalin's day.

Sound like a time warp?

In the meantime the Soviet economy is in a shambles, and Soviet leaders seem not to have the slightest idea how to fix it.

A sense of timing could be the answer to all of these problems.

I have two suggestions that might help Soviet leaders bring their country out of total chaos. First, they should rent from the United States the Christopher Reeve movie "Somewhere in Time," in which Reeve's character successfully used a technique allowing him to go many years back in time so he could fall in love with a certain beautiful woman whose portrait fascinated him.

If the Soviets could successfully utilize Reeve's technique they might be able to go back to Stalin's day and reset the clock - sort of start over. While they were at it, they could scrap the whole communist system and fix the economy - which would make the future a lot easier!

My second suggestion is this: The Soviets could divert the funds that might ordinarily go for weapons systems or those big fur hats and order instead millions of day planners from Utah manufacturers. If Soviet leaders and citizens were ordered to use Day-timers or Franklin Planners, they would get their sense of timing back and become addicted to planners just as Americans are!

That would also be a much simpler way of converting to a democratic system than the complicated approach they have been using. Forget economic and political revolution - just become time-management fanatics!

Now, maybe none of this will completely solve Soviet problems - I don't know. But you must admit that it couldn't be any worse than the unfortunate mistakes they've made so far.

The moral to the story is that you should never mess with daylight-saving time - certainly not this weekend. It is a time-honored principle.