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    VELIKY NOVGOROD, March 15, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Andrei Letyagin) - March 15 marks the 440th anniversary of Russia's book-printing. "The Apostle", Russia's first printed book was published in the printing-house of Ivan Fedorov, a Moscow deacon, on March 15, 1564.

    It had 268 pages and was published in 2,000 copies. Today some 60 copies of the book are preserved and some of them are kept abroad.

    The first Russian book-printer and his assistant Pyotr Mstislavets published two other famous books, the first Slavonic "ABC Book" (1574) and the first complete edition of the Slavonic Bible (1580-1581).

    According to experts, all Ivan Fedorov and Pyotr Mstislavets' editions are first-class samples of the 16th century's book-printing art. They have perfect types, many ornaments (miniatures, colophons, capital letters and illustrations), prefaces and epilogues written in a spoken language.

    However, it is believed that first books appeared in Russia before Fedorov's "The Apostle" in Veliky Novgorod, not in Moscow. A developed feudal state existed here in the 12th-15th centuries. Several books published in Veliky Novgorod are known to historians. However, they had no imprints so we cannot tell their priority.

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