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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Duma Finally Gets Own Newspaper

The Russian parliament has finally gotten its own newspaper, which it won from President Boris Yeltsin last fall as he reached out to deputies to avert a government crisis.

The state-funded Parlamentskaya Gazeta put out its first, eight-page edition last week. Plans call for it to be published weekly until July 1 and then become a daily.

Although it is an official publication, the editors said Tuesday that they plan to create a general-interest newspaper, aiming mainly for readers in Russia's provinces. They also plan to bring in money through advertising.

Opposition deputies in the State Duma, parliament's lower house, have long complained of misrepresentation in the media, which tends to side with the executive branch. The new paper, along with a parliament-produced television program, Parlamentsky Chas, came out of a compromise Yeltsin reached with the Communist-dominated parliament in October to avert a vote of no-confidence in the government.

"People's deputies have got their own bully pulpit for an active dialogue with their voters," Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov wrote in an address published on the front page of the pilot edition.

The Parlamentskaya Gazeta editors told readers they would write "the truth unadorned, but also without the hooting, spite and caricature that are inculcated into our society by the biased critics [of the parliament]."

"Whether we want to or not, we will be, to a certain extent, an opposition newspaper," Vladimir Klimov, the managing editor said Tuesday. "But we are categorically against any extremism."

Klimov said the paper will not favor any faction of the Duma, and all factions will have regular opportunities to produce a full page of the paper, for which the editors will bear no responsibility.

The new paper is edited by Leonid Kravchenko, the head of Soviet television and radio in the late Gorbachev period, who was fired following the attempted coup in 1991. Until his appointment to Parlamentskaya Gazeta, Kravchenko was deputy editor of the official Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

Rossiiskaya Gazeta has high readership because it publishes official documents, including all laws passed by parliament.

The new venture is banking on taking over this role. Last month the Duma passed a bill in the first reading that would grant Parlamentskaya Gazeta the exclusive right to officially publish Russian laws.

This would mean that every government office and all lawyers would be forced to subscribe to the new paper in addition to Rossiiskaya Gazeta."It is of principal importance for us," Klimov said. It would give the new paper "at least 250,000 subscribers automatically," he said.

But Rossiiskaya Gazeta, which has a circulation of about 500,000, is opposing the move and has urged the government to propose an amendment that would give both newspapers the right to publish new laws.