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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zyuganov Pledges Cash HelpFor Pravda

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov pledged Thursday to provide financial support to the embattled Pravda newspaper, which has been out of circulation for over a week.


"Pravda backed us during the presidential campaign," Interfax quoted him as saying during a press conference Thursday. "And a party embracing nearly 600,000 members will be able to support the newspaper in its difficult times."


Once the mouthpiece of the all-powerful Soviet Communist Party, the bitterly oppositionist newspaper has fallen on hard times. It suspended publication July 25 in the midst of a feud between its Greek publishers, Theodoros and Christos Giannikos, and its Russian editor, Alexander Ilyin.


The Giannikos brothers, who have been publishing Pravda since 1992, say they have indefinitely closed the paper because its reporters and editors are incompetent and sometimes drunk. Ilyin, meanwhile, has accused the Greeks of trying to control Pravda's editorial line and soften it following President Boris Yeltsin's recent electoral victory.


While the Greek brothers have denied that the paper is in financial trouble, Ilyin has said that his reporters receive an average salary of 300,000 rubles (about $58) per month and have not received additional payment due for individual articles for nearly a year.


Pravda was founded as an underground paper in May 1912 by Vladimir Lenin. Six years later it emerged as the official Communist Party paper and remained its mouthpiece throughout the Soviet era. Today, its offices are among the few Russian institutions still adorned with busts and portraits of the Lenin and the paper has consistently pursued a radical leftist line.


While in Communist times the paper was almost mandatory reading for Soviet citizens, printing 13 million copies at its height, circulation has now dropped to no more than a few hundred thousand.


It has closed several times since 1991, for financial and political reasons. During the October 1993 standoff between the executive and the legislature, the anti-Yeltsin paper was briefly banned.


The current battle between Ilyin and the Giannikos came to a head June 17 when Ilyin found that three Orders of Lenin, symbols of the paper's former glory, were no longer in the safe to which they had been consigned for safekeeping.


As a result, security guards stopped the two brothers when they returned to the office after a trip to Kazakhstan a week later. The Greeks said they were denied entry to the building and received threatening anonymous messages connected with the newspaper. While Christos Giannikos later produced the orders from his office, claiming that Ilyin had known them to be there all along, the paper remained indefinitely closed.


Pravda International still publishes the tabloid Pravda 5 on a daily basis. The newspaper has a different editor and a different staff than Pravda, although until last week it served as the paper's Friday edition.


The two sides were locked in meetings Thursday and were therefore unavailable for comment.