In his book What Is to Be Done?, Lenin discussed the role of a nationwide newspaper not only as a collective propagandist but also a collective organizer, especially in the Russia of 1902 when there was no real and consolidated party as yet, and no solid links with the masses and sustained leadership of a broad mass movement. This article seeks to share an overview of Pravda (Truth) as a Bolshevik mass newspaper that eventually played that role and contributed to the victory of the 1917 October Socialist Revolution.
Lenin on the need for a Bolshevik political mass newspaper
(A retelling of Pravda’s operations and underlying concept based on What Is to Be Done? and History of the CPSU-Bolsheviks)
By PRISM Editors, 23 February 2017
The need for all-sided political exposures
In What Is to Be Done? (first published in 1902), Lenin expounded on the whys and hows of political education of the working-class masses. He said:
It is not enough to explain to the workers that they are politically oppressed (any more than it is to explain to them that their interests are antagonistic to the interests of the employers). Agitation must be conducted with regard to every concrete example of this oppression (as we have begun to carry on agitation round concrete examples of economic oppression). Inasmuch as this oppression affects the most diverse classes of society, inasmuch as it manifests itself in the most varied spheres of life and activity – vocational, civic, personal, family, religious, scientific, etc., etc. – is it not evident that we shall not be fulfilling our task of developing the political consciousness of the workers if we do not undertake the organisation of the political exposure of the autocracy in all its aspects? In order to carry on agitation round concrete instances of oppression, these instances must be exposed (as it is necessary to expose factory abuses in order to carry on economic agitation).
The context of the quote is in mobilizing the workers against the tsarist autocracy. But Lenin could also well be speaking about the present question of how to mobilize the proletariat and entire people against modern-day imperialism and other big exploiters and oppressors. The key words are “all-sided political exposures” as the basis of comprehensive political agitation.
The newspaper as a collective propagandist and organizer
In the book’s Chapter V, “The Plan for an All-Russia Political Newspaper,” Lenin discussed the role of a nationwide newspaper not only as a collective propagandist but also a collective organizer, especially in the Russia of 1902 when there was no real and consolidated party as yet, and no solid links with the masses and sustained leadership of a broad mass movement. There were only loose Marxist groups with their own projects and networks, although they all affiliated under one formal umbrella—the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP).
This is what Lenin said about the newspaper as a collective organizer:
A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organiser. In this respect it may be compared to the scaffolding erected round a building under construction; it marks the contours of the structure and facilitates communication between the builders, permitting them to distribute the work and to view the common results achieved by their organised labour.” … The scaffolding is not required at all for the dwelling; it is made of cheaper material, is put up only temporarily, and is scrapped for firewood as soon as the shell of the structure is completed. As for the building of revolutionary organisations, experience shows that sometimes they may be built without scaffolding, as the seventies showed. But at the present time we cannot even imagine the possibility of erecting the building we require without scaffolding.
Lenin further explained this notion of a newspaper serving as collective organizer, as scaffolding for building a genuine proletarian revolutionary party:
The mere function of distributing a newspaper would help to establish actual contacts (if it is a newspaper worthy of the name, i.e., if it is issued regularly, not once a month like a magazine, but at least four times a month). At the present time, communication between towns on revolutionary business is an extreme rarity, and, at all events, is the exception rather than the rule.
If we had a newspaper, however, such communication would become the rule and would secure, not only the distribution of the newspaper, of course, but (what is more important) an exchange of experience, of material, of forces, and of resources. Organisational work would immediately acquire much greater scope, and the success of one locality would serve as a standing encouragement to further perfection; it would arouse the desire to utilise the experience gained by comrades working in other parts of the country.
The importance of an all-Russian newspaper
Lenin discussed the importance of a newspaper that provides an all-Russian framework, vis-a-vis the existing conditions of dispersed local work in 1902:
Local work would become far richer and more varied than it is at present. Political and economic exposures gathered from all over Russia would provide mental food for workers of all trades and all stages of development; they would provide material and occasion for talks and readings on the most diverse subjects, which would, in addition, be suggested by hints in the legal press, by talk among the people, and by “shamefaced” government statements.
Every outbreak, every demonstration, would be weighed and, discussed in its every aspect in all parts of Russia and would thus stimulate a desire to keep up with, and even surpass, the others … and consciously prepare that which at first, as it were, sprang up spontaneously, a desire to take advantage of the favourable conditions in a given district or at a given moment for modifying the plan of attack, etc.
At the same time, this revival of local work would obviate that desperate, “convulsive” exertion of all efforts and risking of all forces which every single demonstration or the publication of every single issue of a local newspaper now frequently entails. On the one hand, the police would find it much more difficult to get at the “roots”, if they did not know in what district to dig down for them. On the other hand, regular common work would train our people to adjust the force of a given attack to the strength of the given contingent of the common army… such regular common work would facilitate the “transportation” from one place to another, not only of literature, but also of revolutionary forces.
Training a “regular army of tried fighters”
In a great many cases these forces are now being bled white on restricted local work, but under the circumstances we are discussing it would be possible to transfer a capable agitator or organiser from one end of the country to the other, and the occasion for doing this would constantly arise. Beginning with short journeys on Party business at the Party’s expense, the comrades would become accustomed to being maintained by the Party, to becoming professional revolutionaries, and to training themselves as real political leaders.
And if indeed we succeeded in reaching the point when all, or at least a considerable majority, of the local committees, local groups, and study circles took up active work for the common cause, we could, in the not distant future, establish a weekly newspaper for regular distribution in tens of thousands of copies throughout Russia. This newspaper would become part of an enormous pair of smith’s bellows that would fan every spark of the class struggle and of popular indignation into a general conflagration.
Around what is in itself still a very innocuous and very small, but regular and common, effort, in the full sense of the word, a regular army of tried fighters would systematically gather and receive their training. On the ladders and scaffolding of this general organisational structure there would soon develop and come to the fore Social-Democratic Zhelyabovs from among our revolutionaries and Russian Bebels from among our workers, who would take their place at the head of the mobilised army and rouse the whole people to settle accounts with the shame and the curse of Russia.
“That is what we should dream of!” Lenin concluded. That was in 1902.
Introducing Pravda, the Bolshevik legal mass newspaper
Based on that concept of a revolutionary newspaper as a collective propagandist, agitator and organizer, Lenin and other revolutionary Social-Democrats (who would soon establish the Bolshevik Party) built their work around a series of newspapers: first through Iskra (Spark) from 1901 to 1903, followed by Vperyod (Forward) from 1904 to 1905. Next were the Proletary (The Proletarian) and Sotsial-Demokrat, to name a few in the 1906-1912 period.
Proletary was the main illegal newspaper of the Bolsheviks from August 21 (September 3), 1906 to November 28 (December 11), 1909, with Lenin as editor. The first 20 were published in Finland, then mostly in Geneva in 1908, and finally in Paris after January 8 (21), 1909. In all, 50 issues appeared. More than 100 articles and items by Lenin were published in Proletary. During the years of Stolypin reaction, it played a prominent role in holding together and strengthening the Bolshevik organisations.
After immense efforts in building up itself as a machinery for propaganda, comprehensive agitation, and organization, the Bolshevik Party was ready for major leaps that would prove to have strategic impact. From 1910 to 1912, the Bolsheviks were already putting out a weekly newspaper, Zvezda (The Star), intended for advanced workers. Political articles written by Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders mobilized the working class. But, as the History of the CPSU-B explained: “… in view of the rising revolutionary tide, a weekly newspaper no longer met the requirements of the Bolshevik Party. A daily mass political newspaper designed for the broadest sections of the workers was needed. Pravda was such a newspaper.”
In 1912, two years before the outbreak of World War I and five years before the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks decided to publish a daily newspaper, Pravda (Truth), based in St. Petersburg. Its first issue appeared on April 22 (May 5), 1912, as a legal mass working-class newspaper.
The Bolsheviks used Pravda as a “most powerful instrument it used to strengthen its organizations and to spread its influence among the masses.” The newspaper was founded based on the instructions of Lenin, who directed it while living in exile in Europe (first in France, then Poland, then Switzerland). He wrote for it almost every day, gave instructions and advice to its editors, and gathered around it “the Party’s best literary forces.” (www.marxists.org)
Lenin, in an article published in Pravda itself (issue no. 103, August 29, 1912) wrote about the newspaper’s summing up of its first six months’ work.
In his words:
[The results of Pravda‘s summing up] showed first of all and above all that only through the efforts of the workers themselves, only through the tremendous upsurge of their enthusiasm, their resolve and stubbornness in the struggle, and only after the April–May movement, was it possible for the St. Petersburg workers’ newspaper, Pravda, to appear.
In its summing up, Pravda confined itself for a start to the data on group donations made by workers to their daily newspaper. These data reveal to us only a small part of the workers’ support; they do not tell us about the much more valuable and difficult direct support—moral support, support through personal participation, support for the policy of the newspaper, support through contributing materials, discussing and circulating the paper, etc.
But even the limited data at the disposal of Pravda showed that a very impressive number of workers’ groups had directly linked themselves with it. Let us cast a general glance at the results. [The article at this point presents a table showing how many workers’ groups had made direct donations to Pravda for each month from April to August 1912. The six-month total showed 551 groups of workers donating to the newspaper.]
Lenin then proceeded with a qualitative explanation behind the numbers:
It would be interesting to sum up the results of a whole number of other collections and donations by workers. We have constantly seen in Pravda reports on contributions in support of various strikes. We have also seen reports on collections for the victims of repressions, for the Lena goldfields victims, for individual Pravda editors, collections for the election campaign, for relief of the famine-stricken, and so on and so forth.
The varied nature of these collections makes it much more difficult to assess the results here, and we are not yet in a position to say whether a statistical summary can give a satisfactory picture of the matter. But it is obvious in any case that these varied collections take up a very substantial part of the workers’ life.
As they look through the reports on workers’ collections in connection with letters from factory and office workers in all parts of Russia, Pravda readers, most of whom are dispersed and separated from one another by the severe external conditions of Russian life, gain some idea how the proletarians of various trades and various localities are fighting, how they are awakening to the defence of working-class democracy.
The chronicle of workers’ life is only just beginning to develop into a permanent feature of Pravda. There can be no doubt that subsequently, in addition to letters about abuses in factories, about the awakening of a new section of the proletariat, about collections for one or another field of the workers’ cause, the workers’ newspaper will receive reports about the views and sentiments of the workers, election campaigns, the election of workers’ delegates, what the workers read, the questions of particular interest to them, and so on.
The workers’ newspaper is a workers’ forum. Before the whole of Russia the workers should raise here, one after another, the various questions of workers’ life in general and of working-class democracy in particular. The workers of St. Petersburg have made a beginning. It is to their energy that the proletariat of Russia owes the workers’ first daily newspaper after the grim years of social stagnation. Let us, then, carry their cause forward, unitedly supporting and developing the workers’ paper of the capital, the harbinger of the spring to come, when the whole of Russia will be covered by a network of workers’ organisations with workers’ newspapers.
Asserting Bolshevik leadership and legal character of Pravda
How did the illegal Bolshevik Party directly assert its leadership over the legal mass newspaper Pravda?
First, the CC directly chose the newspaper’s editorial board. Second, the CC sent certain articles to Pravda as obligatory for publication. In a major decision, the CC required that articles marked in a certain prearranged way [e.g., at one time the prearranged by-line were the letters “KKK”] are “to be published immediately and without modification.” And third, the CC required all local Party committees to produce and submit articles for the paper, including those directly drawn from the mass of workers.
As the History of the CPSU-B recounted: “In its articles Pravda dealt with the tasks of the working-class movement from a consistent Bolshevik standpoint. A legally published newspaper could not call openly for the overthrow of tsardom. It had to resort to hints, which, however, the class-conscious workers understood very well, and which they explained to the masses.”
Despite such efforts to keep within legal bounds while advancing revolutionary calls, Pravda was subjected to constant police persecutions. For its first two and a half years in existence, it was closed down by the tsarist government eight times, but reappeared under other names such as Za Pravdu (For Truth), Put Pravdy (Path of Truth), and Trudovaya Pravda (Labour Truth). It was also slapped with huge fines. According to www.marxists.org, during its first year of publication alone, it was confiscated 41 times, its editors were prosecuted 36 times and were sentenced to a total of four years imprisonment for their articles. But with the growing support of the worker masses, Pravda persisted and eventually outlived
Extensive mass support of Pravda by the workers
Here we quote more extensively the work of Pravda, from The History of the CPSU-B:
A powerful instrument used by the Bolshevik Party to strengthen its organizations and to spread its influence among the masses was the Bolshevik daily newspaper Pravda (Truth), published in St. Petersburg. It was founded, according to Lenin’s instructions, on the initiative of Stalin, Olminsky and Poletayev. Pravda was a mass working-class paper founded simultaneously with the new rise of the revolutionary movement. Its first issue appeared on April 22 (May 5, New Style), 1912. This was a day of real celebration for the workers. In honour of Pravda’s appearance it was decided henceforward to celebrate May 5 as workers’ press day.
Pravda played an exceptionally important part at this period. It gained support for Bolshevism among broad masses of the working class. Because of incessant police persecution, fines, and confiscations of issues due to the publication of articles and letters not to the liking of the censor, Pravda could exist only with the active support of tens of thousands of advanced workers. Pravda was able to pay the huge fines only thanks to large collections made among the workers. Not infrequently, considerable portions of confiscated issues of Pravda nevertheless found their way into the hands of readers, because the more active workers would come to the printing shop at night and carry away bundles of the newspaper.
The tsarist government suppressed Pravda eight times in the space of two and a half years; but each time, with the support of the workers, it reappeared under a new but similar name, e.g., Za Pravdu (For Truth), Put Pravdy (Path of Truth), Trudovaya Pravda (Labour Truth).
While the average circulation of Pravda was 40,000 copies per day, the circulation of Luch (Ray), the Menshevik daily, did not exceed 15,000 or 16,000. [Pravda‘s daily circulation in some months rose to as high as 60,000 copies, according to www.marxists.org. Its print-run on its second-anniversary issue reached 130,000 copies.]
The workers regarded Pravda as their own newspaper; they had great confidence in it and were very responsive to its calls. Every copy was read by scores of readers, passing from hand to hand; it moulded their class consciousness, educated them, organized them, and summoned them to the struggle.
What was Pravda’s main content that appealed to the working class?
We continue the extensive quote from The History of the CPSU-B:
What did Pravda write about?
Every issue contained dozens of letters from workers describing their life, the savage exploitation and the various forms of oppression and humiliation they suffered at the hands of the capitalists, their managers and foremen. These were trenchant and telling indictments of capitalist conditions. Pravda often reported cases of suicide of unemployed and starving workers who had lost hope of ever finding jobs again.
Pravda wrote of the needs and demands of the workers of various factories and branches of industry, and told how the workers were fighting for their demands. Almost every issue contained reports of strikes at various factories. In big and protracted strikes, the newspaper helped to organize collections among the workers of other factories and branches of industry for the support of the strikers. Sometimes tens of thousands of rubles were collected for the strike funds, huge sums for those days when the majority of the workers received not more than 70 or 80 kopeks per day. This fostered a spirit of proletarian solidarity among the workers and a consciousness of the unity of interests of all workers.
The workers reacted to every political event, to every victory or defeat, by sending to Pravda letters, greetings, protests, etc. In its articles Pravda dealt with the tasks of the working-class movement from a consistent Bolshevik standpoint. A legally published newspaper could not call openly for the overthrow of tsardom. It had to resort to hints, which, however, the class-conscious workers understood very well, and which they explained to the masses. When, for example, Pravda wrote of the “full and uncurtailed demands of the Year Five,” the workers understood that this meant the revolutionary slogans of the Bolsheviks, namely, the overthrow of tsardom, a democratic republic, the confiscation of the landed estates, and an 8-hour day.
Pravda organized the advanced workers on the eve of the elections to the Fourth Duma. It exposed the treacherous position of those who advocated an agreement with the liberal bourgeoisie, the advocates of the “Stolypin Labour Party”—the Mensheviks. Pravda called upon the workers to vote for those who advocated the “full and uncurtailed demands of the Year Five,” that is, the Bolsheviks. The elections were indirect, held in a series of stages: first, meetings of workers elected delegates; then these delegates chose electors; and it was these electors who participated in the elections of the workers’ deputy to the Duma. On the day of the elections of the electors Pravda published a list of Bolshevik candidates and recommended the workers to vote for this list. The list could not be published earlier without exposing those on the list to the danger of arrest.
Pravda helped to organize the mass actions of the proletariat. At the time of a big lockout in St. Petersburg in the spring of 1914, when it was inexpedient to declare a mass strike, Pravda called upon the workers to resort to other forms of struggle, such as mass meetings in the factories and demonstrations in the streets. This could not be stated openly in the newspaper. But the call was understood by class-conscious workers when they read an article by Lenin bearing the modest title “Forms of the Working-Class Movement” and stating that at the given moment strikes should yield place to a higher form of the working-class movement—which meant a call to organize meetings and demonstrations.
In this way the illegal revolutionary activities of the Bolsheviks were combined with legal forms of agitation and organization of the masses of the workers through Pravda.
How did Pravda also appeal to the peasantry?
Pravda not only wrote of the life of the workers, their strikes and demonstrations, but also regularly described the life of the peasants, the famines from which they suffered, their exploitation by the feudal landlords. It described how as a result of the Stolypin “reform” the kulak farmers robbed the peasants of the best parts of their land. Pravda drew the attention of the class-conscious workers to the widespread and burning discontent in the countryside. It taught the proletariat that the objectives of the Revolution of 1905 had not been attained, and that a new revolution was impending. It taught that in this second revolution the proletariat must act as the real leader and guide of the people, and that in this revolution it would have so powerful an ally as the revolutionary peasantry.
The Mensheviks worked to get the proletariat to drop the idea of revolution, to stop thinking of the people, of the starvation of the peasants, of the domination of the Black-Hundred feudal landlords, and to fight only for “freedom of association,” to present “petitions” to this effect to the tsarist government. The Bolsheviks explained to the workers that this Menshevik gospel of renunciation of revolution, renunciation of an alliance with the peasantry, was being preached in the interests of the bourgeoisie, that the workers would most certainly defeat tsardom if they won over the peasantry as their ally, and that bad shepherds like the Mensheviks should be driven out as enemies of the revolution.
What did Pravda write about in its “Peasant Life” section?
Let us take, as an example, several letters relating to the year 1913. One letter from Samara, headed “An Agrarian Case,” reports that of 45 peasants of the village of Novokhasbulat, Bugulma uyezd, accused of interfering with a surveyor who was marking out communal land to be allotted to peasants withdrawing from the commune, the majority were condemned to long terms of imprisonment.
A brief letter from the Pskov Province states that the “peasants of the village of Psitsa (near Zavalye Station) offered armed resistance to the rural police. Several persons were wounded. The clash was due to an agrarian dispute. Rural police have been dispatched to Psitsa, and the vice-governor and the procurator are on the way to the village.”
A letter from the Ufa Province reported that peasant’s allotments were being sold off in great numbers, and that famine and the law permitting withdrawal from the village communes were causing increasing numbers of peasants to lose their land. Take the hamlet of Borisovka. Here there are 27 peasant households owning 543 dessiatins of arable land between them. During the famine five peasants sold 31 dessiatins outright at prices varying from 25 to 33 rubles per dessiatin, though land is worth three or four times as much. In this village, too, seven peasants have mortgaged between them 177 dessiatins of arable land, receiving 18 to 20 rubles per dessiatin for a term of six years at a rate of 12 per cent per annum. When the poverty of the population and the usurious rate of interest are borne in mind, it may be safely said that half of the 177 dessiatins is bound to pass into the possession of the usurer, for it is not likely that even half the debtors can repay so large a sum in six years.
In an article printed in Pravda and entitled “Big Landlord and Small Peasant Land Ownership in Russia,” Lenin strikingly demonstrated to the workers and peasants what tremendous landed property was in the hands of the parasite landlords. Thirty thousand big landlords alone owned about 70,000,000 dessiatins of land between them. An equal area fell to the share of 10,000,000 peasant households. On an average, the big landlords owned 2,300 dessiatins each, while peasant households, including the kulaks, owned 7 dessiatins each; moreover, five million households of small peasants, that is, half the peasantry, owned no more than one or two dessiatins each. These figures clearly showed that the root of the poverty of the peasants and the recurrent famines lay in the large landed estates, in the survivals of serfdom, of which the peasants could rid themselves only by a revolution led by the working class.
Through workers connected with the countryside, Pravda found its way into the villages and roused the politically advanced peasants to a revolutionary struggle.
How did Pravda help lay the groundwork for the October Revolution?
We continue the extensive quote from The History of the CPSU-B:
At the time Pravda was founded the illegal Social-Democratic organizations were entirely under the direction of the Bolsheviks. On the other hand, the legal forms of organization, such as the Duma group, the press, the sick benefit societies, the trade unions, had not yet been fully wrested from the Mensheviks. The Bolsheviks had to wage a determined struggle to drive the Liquidators out of the legally existing organizations of the working class. Thanks to Pravda, this fight ended in victory.
Pravda stood in the centre of the struggle for the Party principle, for the building up of a mass working-class revolutionary party. Pravda rallied the legally existing organizations around the illegal centres of the Bolshevik Party and directed the working-class movement towards one definite aim—preparation for revolution.
Pravda had a vast number of worker correspondents. In one year alone it printed over eleven thousand letters from workers. But it was not only by letters that Pravda maintained contact with the working-class masses. Numbers of workers from the factories visited the editorial office every day. In the Pravda editorial office was concentrated a large share of the organizational work of the Party. Here meetings were arranged with representatives from Party nuclei; here reports were received of Party work in the mills and factories; and from here were transmitted the instructions of the St. Petersburg Committee and the Central Committee of the Party.
As a result of two and a half years of persistent struggle against the Liquidators for the building up of a mass revolutionary working-class party, by the summer of 1914 the Bolsheviks had succeeded in winning the support of four-fifths of the politically active workers of Russia for the Bolshevik Party and for the Pravda tactics. This was borne out, for instance, by the fact that out of a total number of 7,000 workers’ groups which collected money for the labour press in 1914, 5,600 groups collected for the Bolshevik press, and only 1,400 groups for the Menshevik press. But, on the other hand, the Mensheviks had a large number of “rich friends” among the liberal bourgeoisie and the bourgeois intelligentsia who advanced over half the funds required for the maintenance of the Menshevik newspaper.
The Bolsheviks at that time were called “Pravdists.” A whole generation of the revolutionary proletariat was reared by Pravda, the generation which subsequently made the October Socialist Revolution. Pravda was backed by tens and hundreds of thousands of workers. During the rise of the revolutionary movement (1912-14) the solid foundation was laid of a mass Bolshevik Party, a foundation which no persecution by tsardom could destroy during the imperialist war.
Stalin put it succinctly: “The Pravda of 1912 was the laying of the corner-stone of the victory of Bolshevism in 1917.” The Duma Social-Democratic group and Pravda were the chief bases of the revolutionary work of the Bolshevik Party among the masses, functioning legally on a countrywide scale.
Pravda resumes publication on the eve of the October Revolution
Tsarist repression eventually forced Pravda to closed down on July 8 (21), 1914, in response to the continuing Bolshevik campaign against the inter-imperialist war (World War I), which was then imminent.
After Tsarism was overthrown and replaced by a bourgeois Provisional Government in the February 1917 Revolution, the Bolsheviks faced the task, by patient work of explanation, of opening the eyes of the masses to the imperialist character of this government, exposing the treachery of the petty-bourgeois parties, and showing that the urgent demand for peace (which meant withdrawal from the inter-imperialist war) could not be secured unless the Provisional Government were replaced by a government of Soviets.
As the History of the CPSU-B said: “And to this work the Bolshevik Party addressed itself with the utmost energy.” It resumed publication of its legal periodicals. Pravda appeared in Petrograd five days after the February Revolution, and the Sotsial-Demokrat in Moscow a few days later. On March 5(18), Pravda became the Central Organ of the Bolshevik Party. Lenin joined its Editorial Board and became its Editor-in-Chief.
The Bolsheviks was assuming leadership of the masses, who were losing their confidence in the liberal bourgeoisie and in the petty-bourgeois parliamentary parties. The Party patiently explained to the soldiers and peasants the necessity of acting jointly with the working class, and that only a government of Soviets could secure peace and land.
The Party worked extensively to win over the masses, and to train and organize them for battle. Particularly extensive was the revolutionary work of the Bolsheviks in the army, including the important role played at the front by the Bolshevik newspaper, Okopnaya Pravda (Trench Truth). As the result of wide-scale propaganda and agitation, the workers in many cities held new elections to the Soviets, drove out the petty-bourgeois parties, and elected Bolshevik activists insstead.
Pravda in the shift to the October Revolution
To continue the CPSU-B historical account:
After suppressing the demonstration of workers and soldiers [in July 1917], the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, in alliance with the bourgeoisie and Whiteguard generals, fell upon the Bolshevik Party. The Pravda premises were wrecked [on July 5(18), 1917, by the Cadets and Cossacks—ed.]. Pravda, Soldatskaya Pravda (Soldiers’ Truth) and a number of other Bolshevik newspapers were suppressed. A worker named Voinov was killed by cadets in the street merely for selling Listok Pravdy (Pravda Bulletin).
Disarming of the Red Guards began. Revolutionary units of the Petrograd garrison were withdrawn from the capital and dispatched to the trenches. Arrests were carried out in the rear and at the front. On July 7 a warrant was issued for Lenin’s arrest. A number of prominent members of the Bolshevik Party were arrested. The Trud printing plant, where the Bolshevik publications were printed, was wrecked.
Between July and October 1917, due to Provisional Government repression, Pravda had to repeatedly change its name anew. Once the Provisional Government was overthrown and power shifted fully to the Soviets, the newspaper came out under its old name Pravda starting on October 27 (November 9).
It had performed its role well in the period of revolutionary mass struggle for power. Now it was time for Pravda to play a new role as the official organ of the Communist Party at the helm of the world’s first socialist state. But the principles of running a revolutionary mass newspaper, as laid down by Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders, remain a legacy for the proletarian revolutionaries of the 21st Century. #