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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Petersburg Papers Face Stopped Presses

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nearly every newspaper in St. Petersburg could effectively be shut down in two week's time by an impending financial collapse at the city's government-owned printing presses.

Already the State Newspaper Complex has refused to publish major dailies, including Chas Pik, which did not appear last Wednesday; Smena, which did not appear Friday and Saturday; and Vecherny Peterburg, an evening paper that had to scramble Friday to publish with a tiny privately owned press, Deviz.

Although it is the city's second largest printing press and charges much less than the government presses, Deviz has limited printing capacity.

Newspaper publishers said Deviz could not be expected to handle the flood of publications -- ranging from large local print runs of national papers like Izvestia to minor weeklies and monthlies -- handled at the State Newspaper Complex.

The general director of the State Newspaper Complex, Yevgeny Filippenko, said last week his presses were on the verge of bankruptcy because the 84 newspapers printed there owe a total of 3 billion rubles (about $600,000).

Filippenko said the debt left him without money to buy ink and paper, to pay salaries or taxes, or even to pay the light bill.

He said Lenenergo, the local power company, is demanding payment by Sept. 23 or it will cut off service, and he therefore threatened to shut down unless he receives 2.5 billion from his creditors -- or from anyone -- in the next two weeks.

Filippenko's production deputy, Gennady Terentyev, said the lion's share of debt is owed by four of the city's five major dailies: Chas Pik, Smena, Vecherny Peterburg and Nevskoye Vremya.