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At a time when subscriptions to the Russian press are down by 50 percent and most major newspapers are engaged in an unseemly scramble for government handouts, the advertising department at Moskovsky Komsomolets is furiously busy. Advertisers who want to appear in the paper's daily four-page spread have to wait for more than a month, while the line to place classifieds spills out of the cramped third-floor offices and into the stairwell.
The reason for the flood of advertising is the popularity of Moskovsky Komsomolets, the only major Moscow-based daily to have discovered how to survive in a rough-and-tumble marketplace without government subsidies or outside investors, and with new ideas like advertising, profit and the need to define a paper's relationship to power.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union and its party propaganda machine, a shakedown of the highly centralized Russian press was inevitable. Welcome to Competition. Last month, when subscription figures were released, they showed that Moskovsky Komsomolets The Moscow Young Communist , which had no particular standing in the old days, has a comfortable circulation of 1.
While down from last year's level, the figures mean that Moskovsky Komsomolets can still claim to be the capital's most widely read newspaper. But the picture is considerably different for most of the old giants of the Soviet press and even the leading lights of glasnost, which found that their subscription figures were another marker on a slow slide to the realities of a competitive market.
Pravda Truth was once the mighty Communist Party organ boasting 11 million readers at its peak, but it now has , The weekly Ogonyok, or Spark, a glossy magazine that during the Gorbachev era was a popular front-runner in the rush to write on once-forbidden topics, has fallen from a high of 4.