The maverick Moscow News

Purpose: Primarily, to present Soviet life to foreigners. Before Yegor Yakovlev became editor in August 1986, that meant an ``everything is wonderful'' approach. Now the push is to examine society's problems and promote debate. This has made for an identity crisis: The significance of much of Moscow News's material goes over the heads of average foreigners. Circulation: 1 million total, 250,000 in Russian. 500,000 to 650,000 in English, the rest in French, Spanish, and Arabic. Russian circulation is due to double by the end of the year, which will hardly make a dent in demand.

Availability: For the Russian edition, extremely tight. Muscovites start lining up at newspaper kiosks at 6 a.m. on Wednesdays, the publication day. Even among the staff, copies are rationed. Muscovites unable to get a copy legally, by photocopy, or through the black market can join the throngs that crowd around the copy on display outside Moscow News's offices. Outside Moscow, it is virtually unavailable. Soviet citizens generally cannot subscribe to the Russian edition.

Cost: 10 kopecks (16 cents). Some of the livelier issues have sold on the black market for as much as 10 rubles ($16).

Profits: 1.5 million rubles ($2.56 million) a year. Income from subscriptions, single-copy sales, and a little advertising (for things like Aeroflot, Soviet railways, and the exposition center).

Editor: Yegor Yakovlev. Immediately before joining MN, he was a columnist at the government newspaper Izvestia. Other previous positions: editor of the magazine Journalist, Prague correspondent for Izvestia, editor of the department of ``communist education'' at Izvestia. Author of 20 books on Vladimir Lenin. In July he took his first tour of the United States. Many feel that the swashbuckling Yakovlev was made editor of MN because his style would impress foreigners while reaching only a select Soviet audience.

Foreign-language editions: Can vary slightly from the Russian edition, often for reasons that aren't immediately evident. Each foreign edition has two or three ``stylists,'' native speakers who are supposed to clean up the translations, which are done by Soviets. New Soviet staff members are required to attend an orientation meeting on how to associate with foreigners. The message: ``Be careful.''

Staff: 45 reporters. When Yakovlev became editor in chief, 27 reporters and translators were replaced. He also brought in reform-minded editors from papers such as Izvestia and Trud (Labor).

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