Last updated

Gazeta Pravda.svg
TypeTriweekly newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner(s) Communist Party of the Russian Federation
EditorBoris Komotsky
Founded5 May 1912;108 years ago (1912-05-05) (officially)
Political alignment Communism
Language Russian
Headquarters24, Pravda Street, Moscow
Circulation 100,300 (2013)
ISSN 0233-4275
Website Pravda's website (CPRF branch)

Pravda (Russian :Правда,IPA:  [ˈpravdə] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ), "Truth") is a Russian broadsheet newspaper, formerly the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, when it was one of the most influential papers in the country with a circulation of 11 million. [1] The newspaper began publication on 5 May 1912 in the Russian Empire, but was already extant abroad in January 1911. [2] It emerged as a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union after the October Revolution. The newspaper was an organ of the Central Committee of the CPSU between 1912 and 1991. [3]


After the dissolution of the Soviet Union Pravda was sold off by Russian President Boris Yeltsin to a Greek business family in 1996, and the paper came under the control of their private company Pravda International. [1] [4]

In 1996, there was an internal dispute between the owners of Pravda International and some of the Pravda journalists which led to Pravda splitting into different entities. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation acquired the Pravda paper, while some of the original Pravda journalists separated to form Russia's first online paper (and the first online English paper) , which is not connected to the Communist Party. [4] [5] After a legal dispute between the rival parties, the Russian court of arbitration stipulated that both entities would be allowed to continue using the Pravda name. [6]

The Pravda paper is today run by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, whereas the online is privately owned and has international editions published in Russian, English, French and Portuguese.


Pre-revolutionary Pravda

Though Pravda officially began publication on 5 May 1912 (22 April 1912 OS), the anniversary of Karl Marx's birth, its origins trace back to 1903 when it was founded in Moscow by a wealthy railway engineer, V.A. Kozhevnikov. Pravda had started publishing in the light of the Russian Revolution of 1905. [7] At the time when the paper was founded, the name "Pravda" already had a clear historical connotation, since the law code of the Medieval Kievan Rus' was known as Russkaya Pravda ; [8] [9] in this context, "Pravda" meant "Justice" rather than "Truth", "Russkaya Pravda" being "Russian Justice". This early law code had been rediscovered and published by 18th Century Russian scholars, and in 1903 educated Russians with some knowledge of their country's history could have been expected to know the name.

During its earliest days, Pravda had no political orientation. Kozhevnikov started it as a journal of arts, literature and social life. Kozhevnikov was soon able to form up a team of young writers including A.A. Bogdanov, N.A Rozhkov, M.N Pokrovsky, I.I Skvortsov-Stepanov, P.P Rumyantsev and M.G. Lunts, who were active contributors on 'social life' section of Pravda. Later they became the editorial board of the journal and in the near future also became the active members of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). [7] Because of certain quarrels between Kozhevnikov and the editorial board, he had asked them to leave and the Menshevik faction of the RSDLP took over as Editorial Board. But the relationship between them and Kozhevnikov was also a bitter one. [7]

The Ukrainian political party Spilka, which was also a splinter group of the RSDLP, took over the journal as its organ. Leon Trotsky was invited to edit the paper in 1908 and the paper was finally moved to Vienna in 1909. By then, the editorial board of Pravda consisted of hard-line Bolsheviks who sidelined the Spilka leadership soon after it shifted to Vienna. [10] Trotsky had introduced a tabloid format to the newspaper and distanced itself from the intra-party struggles inside the RSDLP. During those days, Pravda gained a large audience among Russian workers. By 1910 the Central Committee of the RSDLP suggested making Pravda its official organ.

First published PRAVDA dated 5 May 1912 (22 April 1912 OS). First Issue of PRAVDA.jpg
First published PRAVDA dated 5 May 1912 (22 April 1912 OS).

Finally, at the sixth conference of the RSDLP held in Prague in January 1912, the Menshevik faction was expelled from the party. The party under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin decided to make Pravda its official mouthpiece. The paper was shifted from Vienna to St. Petersburg and the first issue under Lenin's leadership was published on 5 May 1912 (22 April 1912 OS). [11] It was the first time that Pravda was published as a legal political newspaper. The Central Committee of the RSDLP, workers and individuals such as Maxim Gorky provided financial help to the newspaper. The first issue published on 5 May cost two kopeks and had four pages. It had articles on economic issues, workers movement, and strikes, and also had two proletarian poems. M.E. Egorov was the first editor of St. Petersburg Pravda and Member of Duma N.G. Poletaev served as its publisher. [12]

Egorov was not a real editor of Pravda but this position was pseudo in nature. As many as 42 editors had followed Egorov within a span of two years, till 1914. The main task of these editors was to go to jail whenever needed and to save the party from a huge fine. [12] On the publishing side, the party had chosen only those individuals as publishers who were sitting members of Duma because they had parliamentary immunity. Initially,[ when? ] it had sold between 40,000 and 60,000 copies. [12] The paper was closed down by tsarist censorship in July 1914. Over the next two years, it changed its name eight times because of police harassment: [13]

During the 1917 Revolution

16 March 1917: Pravda reports the declaration of Polish independence. Prawda.16.3.1917.png
16 March 1917: Pravda reports the declaration of Polish independence.

The overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II by the February Revolution of 1917 allowed Pravda to reopen. The original editors of the newly reincarnated Pravda, Vyacheslav Molotov and Alexander Shlyapnikov, were opposed to the liberal Russian Provisional Government. However, when Lev Kamenev, Joseph Stalin and former Duma deputy Matvei Muranov returned from Siberian exile on 12 March, they took over the editorial board – starting with 15 March. [14] 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 14 March, 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? [15]

On 15 March, 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. [16]

Soviet period

A delegate at 17th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) holding Pravda newspaper (1934) Delegates at the 17th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks).jpg
A delegate at 17th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) holding Pravda newspaper (1934)
A soldier reading Pravda during the Second World War. October -December 1941-RIAN RIAN archive 669616 Wartime city life - Moscow in October - December 1941.jpg
A soldier reading Pravda during the Second World War. October -December 1941-RIAN
Inside Pravda editorial office. 1939-pravda-molodsov-ilichev-ryklin.jpg
Inside Pravda editorial office.
Pravda frontpages from the 1960s. RIAN archive 708414 Front pages of Pravda newspaper issues.jpg
Pravda frontpages from the 1960s.

The offices of the newspaper were transferred to Moscow on 3 March 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. [17]

Other newspapers existed as organs of other state bodies. For example, Izvestia , which covered foreign relations, was the organ of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, Trud was the organ of the trade union movement, Bednota was distributed to the Red Army and rural peasants. Various derivatives of the name Pravda were used both for a number of national newspapers ( Komsomolskaya Pravda was the organ of the Komsomol organization, 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, Polyarnaya Pravda in Murmansk Oblast, Pravda Severa in Arkhangelsk Oblast, or Moskovskaya Pravda in the city of Moscow.

Shortly after the October 1917 Revolution, Nikolai Bukharin became the Editor of Pravda. [18] Bukharin's apprenticeship for this position had occurred during the last months of his emigration/exile prior to Bukharin's return to Russia in April 1917. [19] These months from November 1916 until April 1917 were spent by Bukharin in New York City in the United States. In New York, Bukharin divided his time between the local libraries and his work for Novyj Mir (The New World) a Russian language newspaper serving the Russian speaking community of New York. [20] Bukharin's involvement with Novyj Mir became deeper as time went by. Indeed, from January 1917 until April when he returned to Russia, Bukharin served as de facto Editor of Novyj Mir.Z [20] 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 Marxist theoretician. Bukharin would continue to serve as Editor of Pravda until he and Mikhail Tomsky were removed from their responsibilities at Pravda in February 1929 as part of their downfall as a result of their dispute with Joseph Stalin. [21]

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 mill producing much newsprint for 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 saying was "there's no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia". [22] However, though not highly appreciated as an objective and unbiased news source, "Pravda" was regarded - both by Soviet citizens and by the outside world - as a government mouthpiece and therefore a reliable reflection of the Soviet government's positions on various issues. The publication of an article in "Pravda" could be taken as indication of a change in Soviet policy or the result of a power struggle in the Soviet leadership, and Western Sovietologists were regularly reading "Pravda" and paying attention to the most minute details and nuances.

Post-Soviet period

Pravda was closed down for a brief period on 30 July 1996. Some of Pravda's journalists established their own English language online newspaper known as Pravda Online . [23] Pravda is witnessing hard times and the number of its staff members and print run has been significantly reduced. During the Soviet era it was a daily newspaper but today it is published three times a week. [24] [ full citation needed ]

Pravda still operates from the same headquarters at Pravda Street from where journalists used to prepare Pravda every day during the Soviet era. It operates under the leadership of journalist Boris Komotsky. A function was organised by the CPRF on 5 July 2012 to celebrate 100 years since the publication of the first official issue of Pravda. [25]


See also

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 Specter, Michael (31 July 1996). "Russia's Purveyor of 'Truth', Pravda, Dies After 84 Years". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  2. V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Progress Publishers Moscow, Volume 17, p.45
  3. Merrill, John C. and Harold A. Fisher. The world's great dailies: profiles of fifty newspapers (1980) pp 242–49
  4. 1 2 "Pravda | Soviet newspaper". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  5. "Which Pravda did John McCain write about Syria for?". the Guardian. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  6. "There is no Pravda. There is Pravda.Ru". English 16 September 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 White, James D. (April 1974). "The first Pravda and the Russian Marxist Tradition". Soviet Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 181–204. Accessed 6 October 2012.
  8. "Yaroslav I". The New Encyclopædia Britannica. 12 (15th ed.). 2003. p. 823. ISBN   9780852299616. Under Yaroslav the codification of legal customs and princely enactments was begun, and this work served as the basis for a law code called the Russkaya Pravda (“Russian Justice”).
  9. Yaroslav Padokh (1993). "Ruskaia Pravda". Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  10. Corney, Frederick. (September 1985). "Trotskii and the Vienna Pravda, 1908–1912". Canadian Slavonic Papers. Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 248–268. Accessed 6 October 2012.
  11. Bassow, Whitman. (February 1954) "The Pre Revolutionary Pravda and Tsarist Censorship". American Slavic and East European Review. Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 47–65. Accessed 6 October 2012.
  12. 1 2 3 Elwood, Carter Ralph. (June 1972) "Lenin and Pravda, 1912–1914". Slavic Review. Vol. 31, No. 2, pp. 355–380. Accessed 6 October 2012.
  13. See Tony Cliff's Lenin (1975), Chapter 19 [ full citation needed ]
  14. Leon Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, translated by Max Eastman, Chicago, Haymarket Books, 2008, p. 209
  15. See Marcel Liebman, Leninism under Lenin, London, J. Cape, 1975, ISBN   978-0-224-01072-6 p.123
  16. See E. H. Carr, The Bolshevik Revolution, London, Macmillan Publishers, 1950, vol. 1, p. 75.
  17. See Mark Hooker. The Military Uses of Literature: Fiction and the Armed Forces in the Soviet Union, Westport, CT, Praeger Publishers, 1996, ISBN   978-0-275-95563-2 p.34
  18. Stephen F. Cohen, Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography, 1888–1938 (Oxford University Press: London, 1980) p. 43.
  19. Stephen F. Cohen, Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography, 1888–1938, p. 44.
  20. 1 2 Stephen F. Cohen, Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography, 1888–1938, p. 43.
  21. Stephen F. Cohen, Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography, 1888–1938, p. 311.
  22. Overholser, Geneva. (12 May 1987). "The Editorial Notebook; Dear Pravda" New York Times . Accessed 6 October 2012.
  23. "Russia's Purveyor of 'Truth', Pravda, Dies After 84 Years". The New York Times. 31 July 1996.
  24. "The Communist Party of the Russian Federation today".
  25. Sharma, Rajendra. (13 May 2012) "Pravda at a hundred: Alive and Fighting Archived 29 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine " People's Democracy (Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)). Loklahar, New Delhi. Vol. XXXVI, No. 19. Accessed 6 October 2012.

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