By Jutta Seibert
Falvey Library recently acquired the complete digital archive of Izvestiia (Известия) from East View. Next to the Pravda, Izvestiia is likely the most widely recognized newspaper in Russia. In print since 1917, it was once the official organ of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR but has changed hands several times since the collapse of the Union. It remains a popular and widely respected news source in Russia today.
The Izvestiia digital archive offers the Villanova community a unique opportunity to explore life in the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. It goes without saying that this is a Russian language archive. The search interface includes a virtual keyboard to facilitate full text searching using the Cyrillic alphabet. A standard Western keyboard can be used to enter search terms in transliterated (Romanized) Russian. Alternatively, one can also browse the archive by date. A small selection of Izvestiia articles is available in The Current Digest of the Russian Press for those looking for translations, but only back to 1949 and in some cases only in condensed format and always without illustrations. Note that The Current Digest typically lags a week or two behind actual events due to the logistics of selecting and translating news.
The coverage of the 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis illustrates well the different opportunities presented by these two news archives. Izvestiia journalists covered the events extensively as they unfolded. Indeed, the paper’s no holds barred coverage, which included many explicit images, led to the ouster of its editor-in-chief Raf Shakirov. Scholars looking for translations will find a sparse selection in The Current Digest issue from September 29 of the same year, published four weeks after events started to unfold. None of the controversial images published in Izvestiia are available through The Current Digest. On the plus side, The Current Digest brings together content from a wide range of Russian news sources in translation.
East View offers a well-designed search interface which can be used to explore a single as well as multiple archives simultaneously. I already mentioned the virtual keyboard that facilitates searching in writing systems other than the Latin alphabet. Available alphabets include old Russian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian. The advanced search interface presents typical search features, including date limits and author and publication title search fields. Results can be sorted by publication date, relevancy, publication source, article title, word count, and author if they are indexed. The search results page includes an Excerpts toggle that reveals text excerpts with highlighted search terms for each result.
Articles of interest can be read online in their original formatting, downloaded as pdf files, or printed directly. Available citations in MLA, APA, and Chicago style formatting include persistent URLs which can be readily shared with others. Note that citation formatting needs to be reviewed as author names and article titles are often missing. For example, East View offers the following Chicago style citation for the article “Russia’s Far East Dilemma” by Natasha Doff, which appeared in the Moscow News on August 21, 2012:
“Page 1” Moscow News. 2012. https://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/72935691.
Readers can easily move from reading a single article to browsing the complete issue of a publication page by page.
Unfortunately, the Izvestiia digital archive is updated only once a year. Currently, the archive includes content up to the end of December 2021. 2022 issues will be loaded in March or April of next year. A link to the archive can be found on the Library’s Databases A-Z list, in the catalog, and on the Russian area studies research guide.
Russian news sources available through Falvey Library
- Izvestiia Digital Archive, 1917- (East View)
Offers digital access to one of the longest running Russian newspapers. The archive covers the Soviet era in its entirety as well as the collapse of the Union and the Russian Federation. Yearly updates are added in the spring of the following year.
- The Current Digest of the Russian Press, 1949- (East View)
Presents weekly selections of Russian-language press materials, translated into English.
- Moscow News Digital Archive, 1930-2014 (East View)
Offers access to the contents of the longest running English-language newspaper published in Russia.
- Imperial Russian Newspapers (East View)
Presents open access to selected Russian newspapers published between 1782 and 1917.
Jutta Seibert is Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement at Falvey Memorial Library.