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Government Lifts Limits on Subscriptions After Public Complaints

October 20, 1988

MOSCOW (AP) _ After months of public outcry, the cabinet has lifted restrictions on subscriptions to popular newspapers and magazines, Pravda reported today.

The action by the Council of Ministers, in a meeting Wednesday, signaled a victory for Soviets who had deluged the press with letters complaining about the restrictions.

The council said ″huge inadequacies and oversights″ were committed by the Communications Ministry and State Publishing Committee in limiting 1989 subscriptions to certain newspapers and magazines.

Last year, it was announced that applications for 1989 subscriptions would be accepted throughout 1988. In previous years, orders were taken only after Aug. 1. But when Jan. 1 rolled around, Soviets were told they could only sign up for newspapers, and had to wait until August for magazine subscription applications.

On July 20, the Communications Ministry issued an order limiting the number of 1989 subscriptions to their 1988 level. Further restrictions applied to 41 publications, including such popular sellers as Ogonyok, Soviet Sport and Literaturnaya Gazeta.

Communications Minister Vassily A. Shamshin told the Council of Ministers on Wednesday all the restrictions have been lifted, and that the period during which requests for 1989 subscriptions would be accepted has been extended until Nov. 15. In addition, requests for 1990 subscriptions will be taken beginning Jan. 2, instead of August as originally scheduled.

In imposing the limits, the Communications Ministry said there was not enough paper to print all the newspapers and magazines needed to keep up with demand. But in September, the government found new paper supplies for next year. The Communications Ministry, however, did not then lift the subscription restrictions, the council said.

Thousands of Soviets have been turned away from post offices where they hoped to apply for 1989 subscriptions, and some have claimed the paper shortage explanation was just an excuse by conservatives to stifle President Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s policy of openness and his economic and social reforms.

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