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Kremvax was originally a fictitious Usenet site at the Kremlin, named like the then large number of Usenet VAXen with names of the form foovax. Kremvax was announced on April 1, 1984 in a posting ostensibly originated there by Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko. The posting was actually forged by Piet Beertema as an April Fool's joke. Other fictitious sites mentioned in the hoax were moskvax and kgbvax.

In fact, it was only six years later that the first genuine site in Moscow,, joined Usenet. Some readers needed convincing that the postings from it weren't just another prank. Vadim Antonov, senior programmer at Demos and the major poster from there up to mid-1991, was quite aware of all this, and referred to it frequently in his own postings.

Eventually he even arranged to have the domain's gateway site named kremvax, thus neatly turning fiction into truth and demonstrating that the hackish sense of humour transcends cultural barriers. Mr. Antonov also contributed some Russian language material for the Jargon File.

In an even more ironic historical footnote, kremvax became an electronic centre of the anti-communist resistance during the bungled hard-line coup of August 1991. During those three days the Soviet UUCP network centred on kremvax became the only trustworthy news source for many places within the USSR. Though the sysops were concentrating on internal communications, cross-border postings included immediate transliterations of Boris Yeltsin's decrees condemning the coup and eyewitness reports of the demonstrations in Moscow's streets. In those hours, years of speculation that totalitarianism would prove unable to maintain its grip on politically-loaded information in the age of computer networking were proved devastatingly accurate - and the original kremvax joke became a reality as Yeltsin and the new Russian revolutionaries of glasnost and perestroika made kremvax one of the timeliest means of their outreach to the West.

This article (or an earlier version of it) contains material from FOLDOC, used with permission.