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I am aware of two meanings of the word “акция”. It may mean

  1. a stock (a financial instrument), or
  2. a political, diplomatic or military act.

When I was in Moscow a few months ago, I saw ads that read “У нас акция”, meaning “We have a sale”.

What does the word “акция” mean in this sentence? Is it a new meaning? Does the word “акция” have any other meanings?

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The meaning here is close to second statement proposed: "a political, diplomatic or military act", because it is an "action of sale", which sounds silly in English.

"Акция" is an abridged version of "рекламная акция", а popular term emerged in the 90s in post-soviet territory. "Рекламная акция" could, but shouldn't be translated as "an action of advertisement", because it sounds silly in English too. What it really means is "an action of product or service promotion". And product promotion in Russia is a sale in 90% of cases.

There is no other meaning of "акция" I can think of, so if you see a word "акция" again in unknown context, I suggest that it is more likely an act of something, and not a stock.

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    This sense of "акция" is also probably affected by the German cognate Aktion, which is the normal word for "sale". – Krzysztof Kosiński Jan 8 '15 at 2:02
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Is it a new meaning?

Yes this is new meaning. Before 90s, the word for "sale" was "Распродажа".

I guess Распродажа sounds now obsolete, hardly used.

Акция в смысле Распродажа/sale probably did not yet make it into the dictionaries.

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    I certainly wouldn't call the word распродажа obsolete. It is used all over the place, both online and in Moscow. – Philip Seyfi Dec 28 '12 at 5:20
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АКЦИЯ, -и; ж. [от лат. aсtio - действие]. Офиц. Действие, выступление кого-л., предпринимаемое для достижения какой-л. цели; акт (1 зн.). Дипломатическая а. Политическая, террористическая а. А. милосердия. Кем-л. принята, совершена новая а. Осуществить задуманную акцию.

http://gramota.ru/slovari/dic/?lop=x&bts=x&zar=x&ag=x&ab=x&sin=x&lv=x&az=x&pe=x&word=%E0%EA%F6%E8%FF

В данном случае "акция" есть действия, направленные на привлечение внимания к конкретному бренду. Например, продажа по заниженной цене. Это рекламная акция.

Применительно к Москве "акция", как правило, идет постоянно, никаких реально занижаемых цен при [рекламной] акции не бывает.

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  • Hello Abilis. Since the question is in English, do you mind adding an English version to your answer? Thank you. – Alenanno Nov 17 '12 at 22:07
  • My English bad, therefore there is one of the way to practise Russian. :-) Nevertheless, 'акция' - Action Advertising - the actions directed on drawing attention to any brand. For example: reduction of price. – Abilis Nov 17 '12 at 22:14
  • Ok, don't worry, we'll wait for someone to edit your answer. :) – Alenanno Nov 17 '12 at 22:29
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Акция is a promotional event in this case. For example, акция may be a discount, a gift or two-for-one thing.

Скидка 50% на холодильник до 15 декабря

При покупке шубы - брюки в подарок

2 шарфа по цене одного

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Акция - is an Angicism that is being misused everywhere. While Russian language has it's own words, stupid people keep using foreign substitutes.
In your question's case, it means 'sale' - 'раcпродажа', or 'discount' - 'скидка'.

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