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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MT Buys Petersburg Newspaper

The parent company of The Moscow Times has bought a controlling interest in the weekly St. Petersburg Press and will relaunch the newspaper with a new name, design and publication schedule, publisher Derk Sauer said Friday.

The first issue of the new publication, to be called The St. Petersburg Times, will appear April 23, Sauer said. There will be two issues a week with the Tuesday paper concentrating on business and finance and the Friday issue emphasizing entertainment and leisure.

The St. Petersburg venture marks the first move by Independent Press, which owns The Moscow Times, beyond the Russian capital but it will not be the last, according to David Randall, managing director of the company.

"This is a first step in our expansion beyond Moscow and we intend to take many others." Randall said. "We will in the future be exploring other major cities both within and without the CIS."

Sauer, the publisher of Independent Press, said: "We saw room for growth of the paper so we decided to buy controlling interest."

Gregory Kunis, a co-owner of the St. Petersburg Press, which began publication in 1993 and became the largest English-language newspaper in Russia's second city, welcomed the move.

"We're all very excited," he said. "We realized that we'd get resources not available to us so far, such as experience, knowledge of publishing and some money."

Both Randall and Kunis said they expected an improvement in the quality of the newspaper.

"We're investing heavily in equipment there and we'll be redesigning the paper in time for the relaunch," Randall said, adding that some of the same features and international news articles will run in both the Moscow and St. Petersburg papers.

In another development in the English-language newspaper field in the former Soviet Union, The Baltic Independent and The Baltic Observer weeklies have merged to form The Baltic Times. The first weekly issue of the paper published in Riga appeared March 21.

Previously the Independent was published in Tallinn and the Observer in Riga. In their last separate issues, the two papers said in a joint statement that the merger was "a natural marriage" and was intended to provide "expanded coverage of local and international news from all three Baltic countries."