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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Mayor Launches New National Newspaper

In a bid to improve Moscow's image in Russia's regions and increase his chances in the 2000 presidential elections, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov launched a newspaper Friday called Rossia.

Luzhkov made it clear that the new paper will be a vehicle to promote his agenda in Russia's regions, which resent the wealth and privileged position of the capital.

"We consider strengthening our relations with the regions as an important contribution to strengthening public and economical stability and preservation of Russia's unity," Luzhkov wrote in the pilot edition. "I hope that ... Rossia will help us learn about each other more and better and will help the cause of unification and mutual understanding among all the subjects of the Russian Federation."

Last summer, Luzhkov created a new Moscow city television station, Center TV, which also is building a network in the regions.

Many television stations and newspapers in Russia have been bought by financial empires and used to promote their political interests. In recent months, Moscow's already crowded newspaper market has seen the emergence of at least two new dailies.

Rossia's editor, Tatyana Tsyba, said that about 70 percent of its initial circulation of 100,000 will be distributed outside of Moscow. The paper, whi ch has a start-up budget of $300,000 for its first two months, will now appear twice a week, but plans call for it to become a daily by summer.

Tsyba said the paper will not concentrate on Kremlin in-fighting, but will "promote Moscow's politics" by publicizing its "city management know-how" and its cooperation with the regions.

Although Luzhkov denies that he plans to run for president in 2000, his remarks Friday evening at a lavish party at the National Hotel to present the paper sounded a lot like a campaign speech.

The mayor called for a revision of Russia's privatization program and the renationalization of some industries. He attacked Latvia and Estonia for what he called their "genocide" policies regarding the Russian-speaking population.

In line with Luzhkov's style of using pre-Revolutionary symbols to promote his moderate nationalism, Rossia is spelled with the old-fashioned Cyrillic "i" and claims to be a resurrected version of a tsarist-era paper of the same name. The spelling also differentiates the new paper from the Rossia that was published by Ruslan Khasbulatov's Supreme Soviet during its bitter confrontation with President Boris Yeltsin in 1992-1993.

Yeltsin sent a telegram with his greetings to the paper, and his spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky attended Friday's party.

Sergei Kolmakov, deputy director of the Fond Politika think tank, said the new paper is a logical step for Luzhkov.

"It will clearly be a political mouthpiece, which will emphasize issues that are close to Moscow authorities," Kolmakov said. If Luzhkov runs for president, the newspaper's network in the regions will be useful, he said.

In Rossia's eight-page pilot edition, one page is dedicated to federal politics, one page to economic issues. Other pages are devoted to provincial life and relations between Moscow and the regions. The last pages are given over to international news and entertainment.

Rossia is part of a new publishing house, Metropolis, which is owned by the Sistema holding company and led by Lev Gushchin, who earlier this year quit his job as editor of Ogonyok over differences with financier Boris Berezovsky, who controls the magazine.