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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union

Magazines and Journals

In the late 1980s, weekly, monthly, and quarterly magazines and journals numbered almost 5,500 and had a circulation nearly equal to that of the daily newspapers. The same CPSU regulations and guidelines that applied to newspapers extended to magazines and journals. In the mid-1980s, under the regime's less-restrictive censorship policy, both magazines and journals published articles and stories to fill in historical "blank spots." These articles included works of past and contemporary authors once banned and new works that challenged the limits imposed on literary society by previous leaders. Assessments and criticisms of past leaderships exposed many historical atrocities, particularly those committed under Stalin. As a result, in the late 1980s the number of subscribers to periodicals climbed considerably, and magazines and journals frequently sold out at kiosks within minutes.

In the late 1980s, these magazines and journals created reverberations throughout society with their publication of controversial articles. Krokodil (Crocodile), one of the most popular magazines with a circulation of approximately 6 million, contained humor and satire and featured excellent artistic political cartoons and ideological messages. In 1987 Krokodil published a short excerpt from In Search of Melancholy Baby by Vasilii Aksionov, an emigre writer and poet living in the United States. The piece portrayed Muscovite intellectuals' fascination with American fads during the 1950s and prompted many letters to the editor that both praised and criticized the excerpt. Nedelia (Week), another magazine, supplemented Izvestiia and appeared every Sunday, having a circulation of some 9 to 10 million.

Such journals as Ogonek (Little Fire), a weekly that became more popular in the late 1980s because of its insightful political exposes, human interest stories, serialized features, and pictorial sections, had an audience of over 2 million people. In 1986 it published excerpted works by the previously banned writer Nikolai S. Gumilev, who was shot in 1921 after being accused of writing a counterrevolutionary proclamation. In 1988 it also published excerpts of poetry from Iulii Daniel, imprisoned after a famous 1966 trial for publication of his work abroad. Novyi mir (New World), one of the most controversial and often original literary reviews, attracted widespread readership among the intelligentsia. The monthly publication reached nearly 2 million readers and concentrated on new prose, poetry, criticism, and commentary. Many previously banned works were published in its pages, most notably Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. (The publication of Doctor Zhivago in the West not only resulted in Pasternak's expulsion from the Union of Writers in 1956 but won him the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature.) Oktiabr' (October), a journal resembling Novyi mir in content, circulation, and appeal, espoused more conservative viewpoints. Nevertheless, Anna Akhmatova's "Requiem," a poetic tribute to those who perished during Stalin's purges, appeared in its November 1987 issue. Finally, Sovetskaia kul'tura (Soviet Culture), a journal with broad appeal, published particularly biting indictments of collectivization, industrialization, and the purges of the 1930s. In 1988 the journal published articles indirectly criticizing Lenin for sanctioning the establishment of the system of forced labor and concentration camps.

Data as of May 1989