The average Soviet citizen soon will be able to sample a sprinkling of Western newspapers, giving them a rare glimpse of publications that have been strictly forbidden since the 1920s.
"This is just a beginning," said Viktor Pukalov, head of foreign publications for the Soyuzpechat news agents that will sell the newspapers. "If the sale goes well, the question of increasing the purchase of these publications will be raised."The sales have been approved by the Council of Minister, or cabinet, the official news agency Tass reported Thursday.
With the appearance of the International Herald Tribune, Soviets will discover such foreign notions as "Doonesbury" and stock tables.
Moscow is the last remaining major capital where the International Herald Tribune has been sold in hotels but not on the street, according to Robert Farre, a circulation executive in Paris, where the newspaper is based. The publication sells 177,000 copies daily in 164 countries.
The decision is especially significant because the newspapers will be sold for rubles. Many precious Western products have been offered for sale in Moscow recently, but only for foreign currency, which citizens still are forbidden to hold without authorization.
Tass said increased shipments of Western newspapers began Oct. 1. It said the exact date for public sale has not yet been determined, but that it will happen "soon."
Prices will vary from about $1.50 to $2 - more than 20 times the price of Pravda but only about double the cover price of the International Herald Tribune.