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Consumption of serious newspapers is, however, showing signs of decline.They remain relatively expensive for those living outside the big cities, and while all the major national titles are based in Moscow, many Russians living in the regions prefer to take local papers instead.One of Russia's largest banks, Promsvyazbank, has a controlling interest in the paper, which describes its readers as "working people, businessmen, intellectuals, politicians and managers".The Izvestia daily at one time enjoyed a reputation as Russia's paper of record.

Russian energy group Ye SN emerged as the newspaper's largest shareholder in 2007, buying up stock from the Prof-Media holding company and the Norwegian media group A-Pressen.

The paper now describes itself as "one of the most authoritative and influential publications for Russia's decision-makers" and reports that more than half of its readers are managers or "specialists".

Once owned by the exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky, the paper was bought in August 2006 by Alisher Usmanov, a steel tycoon who also runs a subsidiary of Gazprom and whose other interests include a major stake in the English football club Arsenal.

However, only around half of the country's leading papers have signed up to the service.

This means that for some papers reliable figures can be difficult to obtain.

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