Just over two decades ago when the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, its Communist Party claimed over 20 million members and Pravda was the party's daily voice.
Self-styled democrat Boris Yeltsin banned both by Russian presidential decree, prompting an exodus of careerists, opportunists and those without the stomach to fight for the cause they previously championed.
He seized the assets of party and paper, forcing those loyal to the Communist Party and Pravda to rebuild from scratch, relying on conviction rather than state power.
Pravda had been set up in 1912 by Bolshevik leader Lenin as Russia's first legal working-class daily paper and was constantly persecuted by the autocracy, being closed down at the beginning of the first world war before reappearing after the first February 1917 Russian revolution.
It marked its centenary last month in Moscow with a weekend of celebration, receiving guests from two dozen communist parties and left-wing papers from around the world for a round-table discussion and staging a mass rally and concert for Pravda readers and supporters in the historic House of the Unions, which hosted all major Communist Party congresses and also provided the setting for state funerals.
Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) president Gennady Zyuganov, pictured, began the anniversary celebrations by leading international guests in laying red carnations on the memorial to Marshal Georgy Zhukov and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in tribute to the role of the Red Army in crushing the Third Reich.
CPRF delegations from across Europe did likewise, linking in to national observation of Victory Day on May 9, for which many citizens sported commemorative red and yellow ribbons.
Both party and paper refer constantly to the second world war, evoking the national unity, comradeship and self-sacrifice of those days.
Zyuganov told the House of the Unions rally that capitalism was living through its 12th crisis in 150 years, vindicating Marx's forecast that they would occur every 10-15 years.
"Imperialism seeks a way out of the current crisis through military adventures and financial injections. It hasn't worked," he said, noting that two previous crises had had "tragic consequences," leading to the first and second world wars.
"Four empires collapsed as a result of the first world war while our country was rescued by the Great October Socialist Revolution and by Lenin, leading to the new economic policy and electrification," he said.
"The second crisis ended with victory in 1945. Winston Churchill had called on the world to strangle the Bolshevik baby in its cradle, but after Hitler began bombing London, he said that Britain had a choice of an alliance with the Soviet Union or perishing.
"The main anti-Sovieteer signed an alliance with the Soviet Union because he was aware of the threat from German fascism."
Zyuganov cited the cold figures of the human cost of the war to his country - 28 million lives lost, "among them our strongest, youngest people," and 19 million children orphaned.
He contrasted the two global conflicts, pointing out: "In the first world war not one enterprise was removed. In the second, 1,500 factories and 10 million workers were evacuated beyond the Urals and new productive facilities set up in a very short time.
"It was said that we did not know how to make modern military goods, but nothing surpassed the T34 tank and Katyusha rockets. They were superior to German weaponry, as were our fighter planes," he added proudly.
The Communist Party leader listed the Soviet Union's postwar achievements of free universal education and full employment, together with achieving nuclear military parity and exploring space.
However when the Soviet system entered critical times, he said, "Gorbachov and others failed to meet the challenge."
He contrasted the experience of China which had seen 100 million victims of the ill-starred cultural revolution but, under Deng Xiaoping, had laid the basis for improving industry, becoming a space power and emerging as the workshop of the world, exemplified by one in four goods sold in US being made in China.
"This proves that it is possible to modernise under Communist Party leadership, but we had one leader, Gorbachov, who was a windbag and then Yeltsin was a drunk. The party had no control over these leaders," he asserted.
"The grassroots didn't have the courage to solve this problem reasonably and peacefully," he said in what appeared a rationalisation of the adventurist and botched 1991 coup by CPSU leaders that proved a godsend to Yeltsin.
Zyuganov slated Yeltsin's prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin for selling weapons grade plutonium and pumping "a sea of resources" to the US and bringing in US "specialists" to set commodity prices.
Anatoly Chubais, who spearheaded the privatisation of Russian state property and the creation of a number of oligarchs in the 1990s "would have been executed in the US as a traitor" for his deeds, in Zyuganov's view.
"They should all be brought to account," he declared, laying down an alternative economic approach, including public ownership of all mineral resources.
The Communist leader congratulated party workers for the efforts in the recent general election that, despite widespread ballot rigging, had returned CPRF candidates across the country, doubling the party's parliamentary representation.
Zyuganov awarded Pravda gold medals to eight veteran workers at the paper, stating: "Pravda is a symbol of the Soviet era. It has survived all ups and downs. It mobilised citizens to fight for Soviet power and to be victorious.
"Congratulations for preserving the existence of Pravda to support broad patriotic movement, which can say: 'Truth is on our side'," he said. Pravda of course means Truth in Russian.
Congratulatory messages were read to the audience, drawing warm responses in the main, none more so than Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko's "Pravda loyally and truthfully covers the situation in Belarus."
However, then Russian president Dimitri Medvedev's message that Pravda embodied "the best traditions of Soviet journalism" was greeted by whistles and boos among some applause.
Editor Boris Komotsky welcomed international guests to the Pravda offices where staff had just completed production of a special centenary edition and an Age of Lenin calendar.
Komotsky recalled the hard days of the early 1990s when anti-communist mobs had attacked the paper's headquarters, saying: "We had to fight to defend the building against vandalism.
"Our opponents were engaged in violent activities. There was a ban on the party and paper and subsequently there were several times when our paper was forced to close for lack of finance."
There were other trials, not least the sale of the paper to Greek entrepreneurs posing as communists by then editor Gennady Seleznyov, who was later expelled from the party and now sits in parliament as the sole representative of the Russian Renaissance Party.
Some Pravda journalists left the paper and its political inspiration to set up a Pravda Online website, while the CPRF succeeded finally in 1997 in regaining ownership of the newspaper as its party organ.
Pravda had 300 editorial staff in Soviet times. Now it has just 14 full-time journalists, some veterans who have worked there since the 1960s and younger people who have joined more recently.
Over 80 per cent of the paper's content is contributed by volunteer worker correspondents - "in the Leninist tradition," as Komotsky puts it - across Russia.
"Several TV teams have visited us to mark our 100th birthday, which is very atypical and was surprising to us," said editor Komotsky.
"Our party has gained weight and strength as a result of election results. We hope they'll tell the truth about the Truth," he added.
Current circulation for Pravda, which is now published three times a week, is 100,000, based on four editions in Moscow, the Caucasus, the Urals and Siberia. There are also weekly regional versions, plus specials.
The paper's bank sent along a birthday cake decorated to show a Pravda front page, including its distinctive masthead showing the two orders of Lenin and one of the October Revolution.
Those reminders of Soviet times were dropped at one time, but Komotsky was insistent on their reappearance, calling Pravda "a beachhead of Soviet civilisation that never surrendered."
"We have withstood all trials. We have remained true and loyal to its name and the principles on which Lenin founded it. It reports truthfully on workers' struggles.
"It's a school for strong characters. It was not made by political wizards but arose out of the suffering of working people and the desire for change."
Komotsky is pleased at the response to Pravda's first invitation to international guests in over 20 years to witness "the tremendous job of restoring the work of Pravda. This work continues.
"The best outcome of today's meeting would be closer ties between ourselves. There are technical and financial difficulties, but it is possible to overcome them," he stresses.
Morning Star political editor John Haylett represented the paper at the Pravda centenary celebration in Moscow.
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