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Archives of most popular Soviet newspaper hit the web

Published time: February 03, 2011 16:08
Edited time: February 03, 2011 22:13

The detailed history of Soviet communism is now available at a mere click, as the full corpus of the Pravda newspaper, which was founded by Vladimir Lenin, have been scanned and uploaded onto the internet.

The database comprises more than 150,000 news pages in PDF format, covering an enormous period from 1912 to 2009.

Pravda, or “Truth” in Russian, was a major newspaper in the Soviet Union. Launched in 1912 in St. Petersburg by Lenin, it was banned several times before becoming in 1917 an official organ of the Communist Party.

In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, the paper stopped publishing Bolshevik propaganda. Soon enough, though, its former staff founded a new publication with the same name, which is now a tabloid-style Russian news source.

Although the paper might not have been very objective during the Soviet era, it is still considered a vital historical document and research tool.

“The most important events in our history were reflected on Pravda’s pages,” Boris Komodsky, editor in chief of Pravda newspaper, told RT. “It's a very valuable resource for all those interested in Russian history.”

“We've received letters from various people saying they've managed to find information about their friends and relatives – particularly from the time of World War II,” Komodsky added. “It has also become easier to check the facts of Russian history that may have been perverted. Universal access is very important, and we're seeing a huge amount of interest.”

It some cases, argues Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, Pravda is the only truthful source of information about Soviet history.

“Take, for example, the May 1945 issue – you'll see the whole truth about World War II,” Zyuganov told RT. “The speeches of commanders and leaders are all there – French, British and American. It's a giant fact checker that won't let history be rewritten.”

The project is the brainchild of the Russian Communist Party and a US-based company, EVIS, which specializes in Eurasian studies.

It took the specialists 12 months to complete the archives, which turned out to be by no means an easy and cheap task.

“There were many technical difficulties,” Aleksey Trivailo, director general of EVIS, told RT. “For example, during the first six years of its existence, the newspaper changed its name more than a dozen times. Sometimes there were several different versions of the newspaper released simultaneously. So we had to track them all down.”

The company did its best to ensure that it would be convenient to use the archives. The collection has a multi-lingual interface (Russian, English, German and Chinese) and a quick search engine.

It is planned that the archives of Pravda will be available at all major universities, libraries and government outlets all over the world.

Over 60 institutions have already signed up for access, among them Oxford, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford Universities.