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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Post Office Backs Down On Paper Delivery Rates

A proposed rate hike on postal delivery of newspapers next year has been halved following an outcry by publishers warning that subscription renewals would plummet if they tried to pass on the increases to customers.

This month, regional post offices announced plans to increase delivery charges up to eightfold for some areas in Russia.

Izvestia fought back with an editorial accusing postal officials of "robbery" and "suffocation of the press".

In the face of the attack, which included other national newspapers, the post office backed down this week and cut its proposed increase in rates so that newspaper subscription prices throughout Russia would rise a more modest 350 to 400 percent next year, according to newspaper and postal officials.

In the Izvestia article, Sergei Taranov railed against the possible 1994 subscription price of 15, 192 rubles ($15) as "almost half the average monthly salary" in the region to which it applied. He called it "open robbery in broad daylight" and complained that "the constitutional right of the people to receive information depends on postal workers with mid-level educations".

Under the new agreement, delivery of Izvestia to the MOSCOW suburbs for the first six months of 1994 will now cost 7, 300 rubles, according to Vladimir Shelekhov, deputy director of the national post office.

For Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the 1994 price for six month's delivery to Moscow's suburbs will be 6, 822 rubles - not 10, 000 rubles as published in the a paper Monday, newspaper officials said.

Izvestia's circulation director, Alexander Grishkov, said the newspaper was "grieved" that fewer people would be able to afford subscriptions because of postal costs. But he added it was "impossible to exclude the post office completely" from the distribution process.

Most newspapers in Russia depend on the postal system not only as a delivery conduit but as an extended circulation department. Subscribers choose publications out of catalogs in the post office.

The post office collects payment for newspapers and delivery, which are listed separately, and then gives the newspaper its share of the money and its subscription list.

Since 1991, regional post offices have been allowed to set their own rates, which explains why getting Izvestia delivered to Khimki, just outside Moscow's ring road, was slated to cost almost as much as receiving it in Chelyabinsk, in the Urals - and why, for that matter, it can be sent to Yerevan, Armenia for one-twenty-fifth of that.