The First Russian Newspapers (part 1)
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The First Russian Newspapers (part 2)

In our first part, you discovered that the first Russian newspaper was a single handwritten copy. Read now the history of the first printed paper.

December 15, 1702 marked the birthday of the Russian printed periodicals, this is why handwritten edition of information is not taking in account.

Why exactly on December 15?

Why such a precise date? Because of the very long and laborious process of development of the printing technics. Actually on that very day, Peter the Great signed a decree for the establishment of a new Russian newspaper “ Ведомости” (the “Vedomosti” the Bulletin). Now, not only the Tsar could be informed about the events of foreign and domestic life, but also Russian citizens.

A total control from the Tsar

This newspaper became a information weapon in the hands of the Tsar and his entourage. Peter the Great himself strictly controlled the contents of each issue, and sometimes personally edited one. The “Vedomosti” did not just reported information, but it was designed to promote the success of the Tsar reforms. The first edition of the newspaper was published on December 17, 1702, two days after the signature of the decree.

A wide range of themes

For a long time, the main theme of the “Vedomosti” were the events of the Great Northern War (1700-1721), in which Russia fought against Sweden in the Baltic Sea.

For example, the second issue was dedicated to the siege and capture of the fortress of Noteburg by the Russian troops. At first, the descriptions of the operations of combat were very scarce and concise, but over the time, the authors of publications were making their articles more colorful and extensive.

But the founders of the newspaper were not only interested in relating about the war. News about the successes of the Russian trade, industry and the establishment of new schools were also published in the “Vedomosti”. There was even a page about foreign news.

A newspaper with no name

For a very long time, the newspaper had no name, no distribution, no periodicity. Each issue has its own name: “Ведомости Московского государства” (the Bulletin of the Moscow State), “Ведомости московские” (Moscow Gazette), “Российские ведомости” (Russian Gazette), “Реляция” (Communique), “Подлинное донесение” (The Real Message), etc.

Sometimes a great quantities of copies (several thousand of them) were printed and quickly sold out. Other times, the copies would be left unsold in the printing house. The “ Vedomosti” contained between two to twenty-two pages, and the price could varied from 1 to 4 Dengi (Old Russia monetary unit, 1 Denga was worth ? kopeck). It was a rather big amount of money at that time.

The expansion

Since 1725, the “Vedomosti” grew bigger, and the newspaper began to be printed not only in Moscow but in St. Petersburg. In 1728, it received its permanent name, the “Санкт-Петербургские ведомости” (St. Petersburg Gazette). This newspaper was published by the Academy of Sciences , based in St. Petersburg.

Since 1755, the “Московские ведомости” (Moscow Gazette) began to be printed at the workshop of the Moscow University.

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But the “Vedomosti” reached its popularity when N.N. Novikov, famous Russian philanthropist and writer, considered to be the first Russian journalist, took over the editing of the newspaper in the 1770s.

Юлия Соколова