Russia's main Communist newspaper, Pravda, turned 100 on Saturday exactly as it began — a cash-strapped opposition paper struggling to survive in the hostile environment of a capitalist system.

The former powerful mouthpiece of the ruling Soviet Communist Party, which had spacious editorial offices in all major cities of the country and employed thousands of staff, today is put out by 14 enthusiasts sitting in several rented rooms in a sprawling seven-storied building it once owned in the centre of Moscow.

Pravda was banned by President Boris Yeltsin in 1991 and its vast properties, which included printing presses, publishing houses and health resorts, were all taken over by the presidential administration.

The paper later revived, only to be sold to a Greek businessman. In 1997 it became the official newspaper of the Russian Communist Party.

Once published in a print run of 10 million copies Pravda today has a circulation of 100,000 copies. As in Soviet times, subscription to Pravda is a must for Communist Party members. Outside its faithful party audience Pravda is hardly read by anyone and is often confused with a far more popular online news resource, Pravda.ru, which is also Left-leaning.

In a message of congratulations to Pravda, President Dmitry Medvedev said that the paper is “inseparably linked with the history of our country and journalism”. The Moscow street where Pravda has its office is still named after the paper, but authorities have removed quotation marks from the word Pravda (Truth), eliminating any association with the paper.

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