History of International Newspapers: Pravda in Russia

About the International newspaper Pravda published in Russia, history and information.


The Past. Pravda ("Truth") began as an underground paper in St. Petersburg in 1912. Lenin was one of the founders, and he and his associates were often forced into hiding in order to continue publication.

During the Revolution, when Lenin was in Zurich trying to get back into Russia, the paper printed morale-building editorials, one of which contained the Marx-inspired words, "Proletarians of all countries, unite."

Among Pravda's early editors were world-famous communist leaders--Stalin, Beria, Shepilov, Molotov. Stalin said, "The press is the only instrument whereby the party can speak daily and hourly with the workers in its own language."

In 1945, David Zaslavsky, a Ukrainian called "the poor man's Shaw," was editor of the paper. He began an anti-American campaign in which he said that American freedom of the press was nothing but a capitalist string. "If the string is long . . . freedom . . . is relatively great; if short . . . negligible. Hearst, for instance, sometimes unchains his pet hoodlums . . . to freely assault the Soviet people." He further said that the Russian newsman was "free because he is immune to outside pressure . . . an official worker who gets wages but . . . does not sell himself." He also attacked Clare Boothe Luce, calling her the "political widow of Goebbels" and "full of hysterical Fascist fulminations." He said, "This honorable dame does not love us. She hates us with Africa, rather than American, passion."

During the Khrushchev era, Pavel A. Satyukov was editor. When that regime fell from power, Alexei Rumyantsev took over for a brief time during which he wrote editorials urging freedom of thought for intellectuals. Mikhail Zimyanin, who replaced him, took a harder line.

The Present. By American standards, Pravda is small, often running only 6 pages. It portrays the Soviet regime as fighting for "a scientific approach to the management of the economy, for an improvement in the farms and methods of economic construction, and for raising the level of party and state discipline and of each official's personal responsibility for his job."

It has a large circulation, somewhere around 8 million, and prints editions in 30 plants around the country. Matrices are sent by air to these plants to ensure fast delivery of the news to far-flung districts. The House of Pravda, which also prints other papers and magazines including the famous humor magazine Krokodil, owns schools, a Palace of Culture, and apartment houses.

The number-one paper in the Soviet Union, Pravda is restrained and never sensational. It is noted for its special articles on cultural subjects, science, and literature. Letters from readers--about 1,000 a day--seem to be carrying more open complaints about shoddy consumer goods, public wrongs, difficulties with bureaucracy. The masses are loyal to Pravda, partly because the paper often prints material written by factory workers, farmers, and soldiers.

Pravda is managed by an editorial collegium named by the presidium of the Communist party. Its editor is usually an individual high in the party. The staff is large, the majority well educated.

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