Little Bits of History

Pravda

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 22, 2015
Lenin reading Pravda

Lenin reading Pravda

April 22, 1912 (OS): Pravda becomes Lenin’s and the Communist Party’s mouthpiece. The Soviets were still using the old style calendar at the time, changing in 1918. The paper’s name translates into “Truth” and remains the political paper of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Though officially given this day as its birthday to coincide with Karl Marx’s birthday, it traces its origins back to 1903. It was founded by VA Kozhevnikov, a wealthy railway engineer, in Moscow during the buildup to the Russian Revolution of 1905. The original paper had no political agenda and was an outlet for the arts and literature as well as Moscovian social life. Many of the early writers became the editorial board and then part of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). Kozhevnikov fell out with them and replaced them with a new editorial board supporting the Menshevik faction.

Spilka, another splinter group of the RSDLP, took over the paper and in 1908, Leon Trotsky was invited to edit the paper, which moved to Vienna in 1909. Now with a hard-line Bolshevik editorial board, Trotsky put the printing into a tabloid format and distanced the subject matter from inner party politics. A large following of Russian workers supported Pravda. In January 1912, a sixth conference of the RSDLP was held and the Menshevik faction was expelled. Lenin decided to make Pravda his mouthpiece and shifted the publishing site from Vienna to St. Petersburg with the first official paper coming out on this date.

Up to 42 different editors followed before a tsarist edict shut down the paper in July 1914. With the tsar overthrown in the February Revolution of 1917, the paper was once allowed to see print. When Joseph Stalin and others returned from exile in March, they took over the editorial board. Their outlook was far different from their predecessors and they supported the Provisional Government and the war effort. When Lenin returned to Russia on April 3 and condemned the Provisional Government, Pravda supported him. After the October Revolution of 1917, there were almost 100,000 copies of Pravda sold daily.

In 1991, Russian President Boris Yeltsin shut down the Communist Party and seized all of its property, including Pravda. The paper was sold and resold and in 1996 was once again held by the Communist Party. Today, the paper is politically aligned with Communism or the far-left. The three times a week broadsheet is published under the leadership of Boris Komotsky. It is owned by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and has a circulation of 100,300. They also maintain a web presence with an English version available online as well. Their print version is suffering hard times, like other papers around the world. They are still located at the same headquarters at Pravda Street where it once put out daily Soviet papers.

Did you know that there is no exact rhyme in the Russian language for the word ‘pravda’? Ponder and weigh this insufficiency in your mind. Doesn’t that just echo down the canyons of your soul? – Julian Barnes

A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself. – Arthur Miller

That ephemeral sheet,… the newspaper, is the natural enemy of the book, as the whore is of the decent woman. – Edmond de Goncourt

I read the newspaper avidly. It is my one form of continuous fiction. – Aneurin Bevan

Also on this day: One Ringy-Dingy – In 2000, the UK updates the phone system.
Earth Day – In 1970, Earth Day was first celebrated.
Oklahoma Land Run – In 1889, land in Oklahoma was parceled out in a land run.
Remember the Alamo – In 1836, Santa Anna was captured.
Rolling Along – In 1823, a patent for roller skates was granted to Robert Tyres.

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