Pravda (, "The Truth") was a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991. The Pravda newspaper was started in 1912 in Vienna, Austria, and it did not arrive in Moscow until 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 (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 Komsomol and currently the best-selling tabloid in Russia.
The Vienna PravdaThe original Pravda was founded by Leon Trotsky as a Russian social democratic newspaper aimed at Russian workers. The paper was published abroad to avoid censorship and was smuggled into Russia. The first issue was published in Vienna, Austria on October 3, 1908. The editorial staff consisted of Trotsky and, at various times, Victor Kopp, Adolf Joffe and Matvey Skobelev. The last two had wealthy parents and supported the paper financially.
Since the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party was 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 Committee had 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 Bolshevik faction 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 RevolutionThe overthrow of Czar 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 Kamenev, Stalin and former Duma deputy Matvei Muranov returned 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?
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.
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 periodThe offices of the newspaper were transferred to Moscow on 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.
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 union movement, etc. Various derivatives of the name Pravda were used both for a number newspapers of national circulation (Komsomolskaya Pravda was the organ of the Komsomol organization, and Pionerskaya Pravda was the organ of 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.
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.
Similarly, after the death of Stalin in 1953 and the ensuing power vacuum, Communist Party leader Nikita Khrushchev used his alliance with Dmitry Shepilov, Pravdas 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 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 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 periodOn August 22, 1991, a decree by Russian President Boris Yeltsin shut 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 family of Greek entrepreneurs, the Yannikoses. The next editor-in-chief, Alexander Ilyin, handed Pravdas trademark — the Order of Lenin medals — 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 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 leftist point of view, while the web-based, tabloid-style newspaper often takes a nationalist and sensationalist approach.
Meanwhile, in 2004, a new urban guide Pravda has been launched in Lithuania. It has no stylistic resemblance to the original communist Pravda, although its mission purports "to report the truth and nothing but the truth".
Pravda in arts
- Pravda is the name of the 1985 play by Howard Brenton and David Hare satirising the British newspaper industry of the time.
- American science fiction author 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 revolution also 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 Le Figaro.
- Pravda is often present in artistic works of Socialist Realism.
- The Pravda is mentioned in the movie "2010"
- In the novel Animal Farm Pravda is paralleled by a pig named Squealer.
- Cookson, Matthew (April 30, 2004). The spark that lit a revolution. Socialist Worker, p. 7.
Pravda in Afrikaans: Prawda
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Pravda in Chinese: 真理报