Photo Credit: Wikimedia
When I was a boy, my father told me stories about the time he spent in Russia during the war (1939-1946). It is interesting to me now, although I never really questioned it as a child, but my father never told any horror stories; no mention of almost his entire family being wiped out, his first wife and two daughters getting killed early in the war by the Nazis, nothing like that, ever. Only jokes and humor about life in Russia.
Except for one incident when I was 12, you could never tell from my father that there was even a World War.
Although the joke is short, first, a little background: After the overthrow of Czar Nicholas II by the February Revolution of 1917, Soviet Russia had two main newspapers, Pravda, shown here above, and Izvestia, shown below. Pravda, which means "Truth", was the official voice of the Communist Party and Izvestia, which means "News", was the Official voice of the Soviet Government.
Photo Credit: Marxist Internet Archive
Russian President Boris Yeltsin shut down the Communist Party in August of 1991 including its newspaper, Pravda. The name was revived and so now there are two Pravdas in Russia, none of them related to the original or to each other, a leftist-run paper simply called Pravda and a nationalist version called Pravda Online.
Pravda Online is quite similar to America's supermarket tabloids with a very anti-American slant (I suspect many American liberals get their chants and slogans here); here are some headlines:
- US economy to go from bad to worse in nearest future
- Bush prepares another September 11 terror act to transform America into dictatorship
- The 9/11 attacks were not done by terrorists
- Pentagon to take the US society under total control
- George W. Bush betrays his nation
Putin couldn't have any better cheerleaders. If the Russian population sees that Bush is seeking dictatorial powers, who are they to complain if Putin does the same?
As for Izvestia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it became an "all-national" newspaper of Russia although controlling interest was purchased by state-owned Gazprom in June of 2005. Some of you may recall that in the aftermath of the school siege in North Ossetia, Putin was criticized severely for his handling of the terror attack in which 338 died, half of them children.
The editor in chief of Izvestia, Raf Shakirov, announced his forced resignation after publishing a front page on Saturday, Sep 4, 2004 that carried nothing but one huge, harrowing photograph of a man carrying a wounded child. Seems government officials did not like the paper's coverage of the Beslan school hostage crisis. So much for Democracy in Russia.
It is interesting to note that Russian papers usually make light of the US' War on Terror and at the same time criticize Putin for not paying enough attention to international terrorists.
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union Pravda and Izvestia both had circulations of 10 million or more copies each. Today, they barely have more than half a million readers combined.
Photo Gallery of the funeral and mourning for the children killed.
Roundup of articles by Moscow Times Online on the Beslan School Massacre.