PRESS

Profit from Pravda

PAUL BERTON October 14 1985
PRESS

Profit from Pravda

PAUL BERTON October 14 1985

Profit from Pravda

PRESS

With its long articles extolling ideological purity in Soviet youth and outlining economic goals in exhaustive detail, Pravda, the official Soviet Communist Party newspaper, is unlikely to make serious inroads in the North American newspaper market. But when current editions rolled off a press in St. Paul, Minn., during the summer, they suddenly became objects of fascination. The U.S. newspapers were identical to the 10.7 million copies distributed to Russians every day—with one difference: the words on their pages were in English.

Later this fall Pravda (the name translates as “truth”) will become available in English daily, about 10 days after the appearance of the original Russian editions. But the Communist Party will have nothing to do with the new version. Instead, it is the brainchild of Charles Cox, 64, a St. Paul publisher who abandoned retirement two years ago to take up the project because he thought Americans should know more about the Soviet Union. Cox’s company, Associated Publishers Inc., is now busy working the kinks out of prototypes and is selling $630 annual subscriptions at a rate he said he never anticipated. Said Cox: “This is going to open a window on Russia, and we are just amazed at the enthusiasm for it.”

In fact, North American interest in Soviet affairs has been increasing rapidly, according to Laurence Black, director of Carleton University’s Soviet studies institute in Ottawa. Said Black: “This will be very useful. The Soviets know a lot more about us than we know about them.” Added Cox: “This would not have been possible 10 years ago. The interest is growing that quickly.”

A seasoned capitalist, Cox will not reveal how much he has spent so far or even the number of translators he has employed. Originally, Cox expected that only universities, libraries and government agencies would be interested in the publication. But his diverse subscribers include medical offices, travel agencies, computer companies and amateur Kremlin watchers. In fact, Cox is so encouraged by the early response that he says he is now dreaming of a day when the entire Western world will read a newspaper that speaks from the heart of the Kremlin.

—PAUL BERTON in Toronto