U.S.-Soviet Publishing Deal Slated : Deal for Joint Venture Comes as Direct Result of Glasnost
A U.S.-Soviet venture plans to open 18 print shops and a central printing plant in the Soviet Union, taking advantage of recent liberalization of publishing laws, it was announced Wednesday.
The profit-oriented venture will bring “for the first time in history” publishing, copying, printing and computer services to Soviet private citizens, according to an announcement at the Soviet Consulate.
The capitalistic partnership will also sell computers, audio-visual and related products, cultural and advertising services, souvenirs and books in the Soviet Union, it was announced.
California businessman Martin B. Lopata, chief executive of the American side of the project, said the idea for the venture came from the Soviets last winter, in line with their new policy of glasnost and perestroika, or openness and restructuring.
Before recent changes in Soviet law, no document could be commercially printed without a censor’s permit and an official document number.
Lopata said the deal was agreed to by the Soviets as an experiment, with plans to start in Moscow in January, Leningrad next summer and Kiev a few months later.
Result of Summit
In a separate deal, Alpha-Graphics Printshops of the Future, a Tucson-based chain of more than 250 print shops, said Wednesday it would announce today its plans to open its first two shops in Moscow this winter.
The project announced in California is an outgrowth of the Gorbachev-Reagan Moscow summit earlier this year, when “both sides reiterated their strong support for development of economic ties between the two sides,” said Soviet Deputy Consul General Gennadiy I. Zolotov, who sat next to Lopata.
It is also the result of the Soviet Union’s new “joint project” laws, he added, noting that the Soviet leader pointed out last week in a speech in Siberia that specially favored “business zones” may soon be opened in the nation to attract foreign capital.
The official said a contract forming the venture was signed recently by MIR, a Soviet publishing house; Sintez, a Soviet cooperative, and Unicorn Investments International, a California corporation. The venture is called Sovaminco, for Soviet-American International Co.
“This is a truly pioneering event,” said Lopata. “This will also be one of the first facilities to allow printing to the average Soviet citizen.” Rubles as well as dollars will be accepted as payment.
Lopata, who lives in Huntington Beach, said he ran an aerosol chemical plant in Southern California until he sold out last year. He said he was approached in February by a staff member of Goskomizdat, the Soviet publishing and printing committee.
Negotiations on the deal went along at an unusually speedy clip after the concept was approved by Dmitry Mamleev, first deputy chairman of Goskomizdat, and a preliminary contract was signed that included the Moscow City Council, he said.