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One of Russia’s oldest weeklies - Ogonyok - marks 115th anniversary

December 21, 2014, 4:28 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Today, the weekly’s circulation exceeds 80,000 copies. It reached 3 million copies at the peak of the magazine’s popularity in the late 1980s

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MOSCOW, December 21 /TASS/. One of Russia’s oldest weekly magazines - Ogonyok - is marking its 115th anniversary on Sunday. Its first issue came out as an illustrated supplement to the Birzhevye Vedomosti (The Exchange Gazette), a daily liberal bourgeois political, economic, and literary newspaper in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Today, the weekly’s circulation exceeds 80,000 copies. It reached 3 million copies at the peak of the magazine’s popularity in the late 1980s.


“The magazine’s first issue came out on December 9 /December 21 New Style/ in 1899. It immediately found it reader yielding only to the Niva magazine in its popularity, Ogonyok’s editor-in-chief Sergei Agafonov said in a TASS interview.

The magazine continued coming out in revolutionary years and during the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany (1941-1945).

“Over the years of its existence, Ogonyok has become a chronicle of historical events,” Agafonov went on to say.

There was one short interval from 1918 to 1923 when the magazine was not published. After that, it re-opened again. Soviet journalist Mikhail Koltsov headed Ogonyok’s editorial board. In 1938, Koltsov was arrested and repressed, and Yevgeny Petrov, one of the authors of the well-known post-revolutionary book “The Twelve Chairs”, replaced him as the magazine’s chief editor for a short time. Soviet poets Alexei Surkov and Anatoly Sofronov took turns in heading the publication in subsequent years. A supplement to Ogonyok tilted Bibilioteka /Library/ became particularly popular when Anatoly Sofronov was Ogonyok’s chief editor. Biblioteka came out from 1925 to 1991. Both Ogonyok and Biblioteka printed the works of famous writers like Mikhail Zoshchenko, Alexander Tvardovsky, Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov, Alexei Tolstoy, Vladimir Mayakovsky and Isaac Babel.

Vitaly Korotich became Ogonoyok’s editor-in-chief in 1986 turning it into one of the most popular and readable magazine of the “perestroika” era.

“OGONYOK” In Modern World

Early in 2009, Ogonyok stopped coming out because of financial woes. The magazine revived after the Kommersant publishing house obtained the right to it. Today, it is published in its classical increased “format” on traditional lusterless paper.

Ogonyok has managed to find a niche in the Russian printing market thanks to its “signature” style consisting in ability to talk about complicated things in simple words.

“Our readers are active people who are interested in everything, which goes on in Russia and abroad,” Ogonyok’s editor-in-chief Sergei Agafonov said.

“Ogonyok treats its reader as a clever and confidential interlocutor with whom one can talk about everything,” Agafonov went on to say.

The magazine’s permanent authors and experts include historian Edward Radzinsky, philosopher Alexander Dugin, literary figure Dmitry Prigov, artist Oleg Kulik and writer Sergei Lukyanenko.

A special jubilee issue of the Ogonyok magazine came out early in December. It had collected articles and interviews about the magazine’s history.

“In this issue, we tried to remind our readers about Ogonyok’s origins and various periods in the history of our magazine; whose works it published and who its readers were,” Agafonov said in conclusion.

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