Russkaya Zhizn - Russian Life



Russian - American Newspaper published since 1921 in San Francisco

Please note that this is not an official website of the publication.


The year 2011 marks the 90th anniversary of continuous publication of the newspaper Russian Life in San Francisco. When this newspaper was fist published in 1921, radio broadcasting was just beginning, television was a laboratory experiment, space flight and Moon landings were subjects of science fiction novels. Even fantasy writers did not imagine atomic weapons and the Internet. In 1921 in Constantinople, Gallipoli and on the island of Lemnos encamped the Russian Army, evacuated from the Crimea, and the Russian Far East Maritime region was still resisting the Bolsheviks. The Solovki “special-purpose” concentration camp was only beginning to perform its functions of extermination, and in the Crimea the Bolsheviks were commencing mass executions of White Army personnel who had trusted a false amnesty. In early1921 there was an anti-Bolshevik uprising of sailors in Kronstadt, which was suppressed by Tukhachevsky. In the same 1921 there was a mass uprising of peasants in the Tambov province, also suppressed by Tukhachevsky, using Chinese mercenaries and military poison gas weapons – with a violence equal to the Nazi crimes in the occupied territories. In 1921 the USSR did not yet exist, and just over two years had elapsed since the November Armistice of 1918, which had stopped the Great War. In Munich, an obscure former corporal of the Kaiser’s army, Adolph Hitler worked as a secret agent for the political intelligence section of the German General Staff…

In San Francisco, the community of political refugees from Russia was growing, but not all yet fully understood the complexity and consequences of the catastrophe that had befallen Russia. Time and tragic reality have placed many things in their place. The newspaper Russian Life became one of the keepers of the traditions of free Russian journalism and not only a medium to inform the readership, but also a chronology of the many decades of life and work of the Russian Diaspora in the USA. Today, at age 90 this newspaper survives as the oldest, continuously published newspaper of the Russian national Diaspora in the world. In Russia proper, it seems that only the newspaper “Izvestia” has a longer lifetime of uninterrupted publication (since March of 1917.)

The age of the “Russian Life” includes entire layers of history: the creation of the USSR; the inter-war period; Leninist and Stalinist terror in the USSR; the persecution of religion; World War II; the Cold War and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam; the Communist takeover of China; space travel; the evolution of computers; perestroika and the disintegration of the USSR; the genesis of post-Soviet Russia; the terror of September 11, 2001 and the struggle with global terrorism. It is necessary to explain the business side of the publication of Russian Life. The publication of a newspaper of this profile cannot be subject to simple commercial priorities. The main principles of the publication are informational satisfaction for the readers, full publishing and editorial independence, objectivity, a careful fulfillment of the mission of chronicler of the community.
The regular revenue of the publication consists of subscription fees and modest income for advertising. Subscribers of Russian Life live in California and many other states of the USA, in Canada, Australia, Brazil and other countries. The expenses of the newspaper have been reduced to a minimum. The editors work for free, the technical staff receives such small pay, that their efforts to produce the newspaper every week are in effect also a charitable contribution to the common goal.

Therefore, the newspaper is published now for decades with a substantial annual deficit. How is this significant operational deficit covered? From time to time, the newspaper receives gifts from readers, who consider the existence of Russian Life sufficiently important for our now world-wide community. For example, we remember with gratitude the generosity of the late A.M. Poniatoff (†1980), founder of Ampex Corporation in the Silicon Valley, who bequeathed a significant sum to the newspaper. Such gifts feed a dwindling reserve, from which the operational deficit of the newspaper is covered. But this reserve is not infinite, and today one can calculate mathematically the date, when it will be necessary to “turn off the lights in the editorial office,” unless generous support is received from those, who are not indifferent to the fate of the newspaper. We sincerely hope that the 90th year of publication will not be the last for Russian Life. To continue publishing, the newspaper needs material help from friends and readers. How should such help be manifested? In the first place, all who read the newspaper should become regular subscribers. The price is moderate and different periods are available. Subscription revenue covers approximately one-half of each issue’s production and delivery expenses. This means, each second issue of the newspaper is in fact a gift to the subscribers. Secondly, all friends of the newspaper are asked to make monetary gifts to the newspaper, so the financial reserves of the publication increase, instead of decreasing. No only the survival of the newspaper but also its independence and objectivity depend on community support. The newspaper cannot solicit grants from anyone and at the same time claim full independence – and we believe that the independence of Russian Life is a key attribute of its community significance.