name = Правда
caption = Front page of an issue
of Pravda. The headline
says: "Declaration by
the Soviet Leadership"
type = Daily
foundation = October 3, 1908
ceased publication = August 22, 1991
owners = Communist Party
of the Soviet Union
headquarters = flagicon|Austria
The "Pravda" newspaper was started in 1912 in
Vienna, Austria. It was converted from a weekly "Zvezda". It did not arrive in Moscowuntil 1918. During the Cold War, "Pravda" was well-known in the West for its pronouncements as the official voice of Soviet Communism (similarly, " Izvestia" was the official voice of the Soviet "government").
After the paper was closed down in 1991 by decree of President Yeltsin, many of the staff founded a new paper with the same name, which is now a
tabloid-style Russian news source. There is an unrelated Internet-based newspaper, "Pravda Online" ( [http://www.pravda.ru www.Pravda.ru] ) run by former Pravda newspaper employees. A number of other newspapers have also been called "Pravda", most notably Komsomolskaya Pravda, formerly the official newspaper of the now defunct Komsomoland currently the best-selling tabloidin Russia.
The Vienna "Pravda"
The original "Pravda" was founded by
Leon Trotskyas a Russian social democratic newspaper aimed at Russian workers. The paper was published abroad to avoid censorshipand was smuggled into Russia. The first issue was published in Vienna, Austriaon October 3, 1908. The editorial staff consisted of Trotsky and, at various times, Victor Kopp, Adolf Joffeand Matvey Skobelev. The last two had wealthy parents and supported the paper financially.
Russian Social Democratic Labor Partywas then split into multiple factions and since Trotsky was a self-described 'non-factional social democrat', the newspaper spent much of its time trying to unite party factions. The editors tried to avoid the factional issues that divided Russian émigrés and concentrated on the issues of interest to Russian workers. Coupled with a lively and easy to understand style, it made the paper very popular in Russia.
In January 1910, the party's
Central Committeehad a rare plenary meeting with all party factions represented. A comprehensive agreement to re-unite the party was worked out and tentatively agreed upon. As part of the agreement, Trotsky's "Pravda" was made a party-financed central organ. Lev Kamenev, a leading member of the Bolshevikfaction and Lenin's close associate, was made a member of the editorial board, but he withdrew in August 1910 once the reconciliation attempt failed. The newspaper published its last issue on April 15, 1912.
The Saint Petersburg "Pravda"
During the 1917 Revolution
The overthrow of
Tsar Nicholas IIby the February Revolutionof 1917 allowed "Pravda" to reopen. The original editors of the newly reincarnated "Pravda", Vyacheslav Molotovand Alexander Shlyapnikov, were opposed to the liberal Russian Provisional Government. However, when Kamenev, Stalin and former Duma deputy Matvei Muranovreturned from Siberian exile on March 12, they ousted Molotov and Shlyapnikov and took over the editorial board.
Under Kamenev's and Stalin's influence, "Pravda" took a conciliatory tone towards the Provisional Government -- "insofar as it struggles against reaction or counter-revolution" -- and called for a unification conference with the internationalist wing of the Mensheviks. On March 14, Kamenev wrote in his first editorial:
:What purpose would it serve to speed things up, when things were already taking place at such a rapid pace? [See Marcel Liebman, "Leninism under Lenin", London, J. Cape, 1975, ISBN 0-224-01072-7 p.123]
and on March 15 he supported the war effort:
:When army faces army, it would be the most insane policy to suggest to one of those armies to lay down its arms and go home. This would not be a policy of peace, but a policy of slavery, which would be rejected with disgust by a free people. [See E. H. Carr, "The Bolshevik Revolution", London, Macmillan, 1950, vol. 1, p. 75.]
After Lenin's and
Grigory Zinoviev's return to Russia on April 3, Lenin strongly condemned the Provisional Government and unification tendencies in his April Theses. Kamenev argued against Lenin's position in "Pravda" editorials, but Lenin prevailed at the April Party conference, at which point "Pravda" also condemned the Provisional Government as "counter-revolutionary". From then on, "Pravda" essentially followed Lenin's editorial stance. After the October Revolution of 1917"Pravda" was selling nearly 100,000 copies daily.
The Soviet period
The offices of the newspaper were transferred to
Moscowon March 3, 1918 when the Soviet capital was moved there. "Pravda" became an official publication, or "organ", of the Soviet Communist Party. "Pravda" became the conduit for announcing official policy and policy changes and would remain so until 1991. Subscription to "Pravda" was mandatory for state run companies, the armed services and other organizations until 1989 [See Mark Hooker. "The Military Uses of Literature: Fiction and the Armed Forces in the Soviet Union", Westport, CT, Praeger Publishers, 1996, ISBN 0-275-95563-X p.34] .
Other newspapers existed as organs of other state bodies. For example, "
Izvestia" — which covered foreign relations— was the organ of the Supreme Soviet, "Trud" was the organ of the trade unionmovement, etc. Various derivatives of the name "Pravda" were used both for a number of national newspapers (" Komsomolskaya Pravda" was the organ of the Komsomolorganization, and " Pionerskaya Pravda" was the organ of the Young Pioneers), and for the regional Communist Party newspapers in many republics and provinces of the USSR, e.g. " Kazakhstanskaya Pravda" in Kazakhstan[ [http://www.kazpravda.kz/ Kazakhstanskaya Pravda] ru icon] , " Polyarnaya Pravda" in Murmansk Oblast[ [http://www.b-port.com/info/smi/pp/ Polyarnaya Pravda] ru icon] , " Pravda Severa" [ [http://www.pravdasevera.ru/ Pravda Severa] ru icon] in Arkhangelsk Oblast, or " Moskovskaya Pravda" in the city of Moscow [ [http://www.mospravda.ru/ Moskovskaya Pravda] ru icon] .
In the period after the death of Lenin in 1924, "Pravda" was to form a power base for
Nikolai Bukharin, one of the rival party leaders, who edited the newspaper, which helped him reinforce his reputation as a Marxisttheoretician.
Similarly, after the death of Stalin in 1953 and the ensuing power vacuum, Communist Party leader
Nikita Khrushchevused his alliance with Dmitry Shepilov, "Pravda" 's editor-in-chief, to gain the upper hand in his struggle with Prime Minister Georgy Malenkov.
A number of places and things in the Soviet Union were named after "Pravda". Among them was the city of Pravdinsk in Gorky Oblast (the home of a
paper millproducing much newsprintfor "Pravda" and other national newspapers), and a number of streets and collective farms.
As the names of the main Communist newspaper and the main Soviet newspaper, Pravda and Izvestia, meant "the truth" and "the news" respectively, a popular Russian saying was "v Pravde net izvestiy, v Izvestiyakh net pravdy" (In the "Truth" there is no news, and in the "News" there is no truth).
The post-Soviet period
On August 22, 1991, a
decreeby Russian President Boris Yeltsinshut down the Communist Party and seized all of its property, including "Pravda". Its team of journalists fought for their newspaper and freedom of speech. They registered a new paper with the same title just weeks after.
A few months later, then-editor
Gennady Seleznyov(now a member of the Duma) sold "Pravda" to a familyof Greek entrepreneurs, the Yannikoses. The next editor-in-chief, Alexander Ilyin, handed "Pravda" 's trademark— the Order of Leninmedals — and the new registration certificate over to the new owners.
By that time, a serious split occurred in the editorial office. Over 90% of the journalists who had been working for "Pravda" until 1991 quit their jobs. They established their own version of the newspaper, which was later shut down under government pressure. These same journalists, led by former Pravda editors Vadim Gorshenin and Viktor Linnik in January 1999, launched [http://www.pravda.ru/ "Pravda Online"] , the first web-based newspaper in the Russian language; English, Italian and Portuguese versions are also available.
The new "Pravda" newspaper and "Pravda Online" are not related in any way, although the journalists of both publications are still in touch with each other. The paper "Pravda" tends to analyze events from a
leftistpoint of view, while the web-based, tabloid-style newspaper often takes a nationalistand sensationalist approach.
Meanwhile, in 2004, a new urban guide [http://www.pravda.lt/ "Pravda"] has been launched in Lithuania. It has no stylistic resemblance to the original communist [http://www.pravda.ru/ "Pravda"] , although its mission purports "to report the truth and nothing but the truth".
The newspaper of the
Communist Party of the Russian Federationis also called [http://www.gazeta-pravda.ru/ "Gazeta "Pravda"] .
"Pravda" in arts
Vladimir Leninreading a copy of "Pravda"]
* "Pravda" is the name of the 1985 play by
Howard Brentonand David Hare satirising the British newspaper industry of the time.
science fictionauthor Robert A. Heinlein, wrote a nonfiction article about his experiences as a tourist in Russia during the Soviet period, titled "Pravda" means "Truth".
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress", a tale of Lunar revolutionalso by Heinlein, contains a paper (published in the city of Novy Leningrad) named "Lunaya Pravda".
* In the film "Alphaville", the secret agent Lemmy Caution claims at one point to be working for "Figaro-Pravda", obviously an amalgamation of "Pravda" with right-wing newspaper "
*"Pravda" is often present in artistic works of
* The Pravda is mentioned in the movie "2010"
* In the novel "
Animal Farm" Pravda is paralleled by a pig named Squealer.
* In the 1981 comedy "Arthur", Dudley Moore's title character is asked if he needs anything to which he replies "Do you have Pravda? I like to keep up with Russia."
*Cookson, Matthew (April 30, 2004). [http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/article.php?article_id=2434 The spark that lit a revolution] . "Socialist Worker", p. 7.
Central newspapers of the Soviet Union
* [http://www.gazeta-pravda.ru/ Pravda Newspaper]
* [http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/kbank/1stdraft.html CNN Cold War Knowledge Bank] - comparison of articles on Cold War topics in "TIME Magazine" and "Pravda" between 1945 and 1991
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.