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/krem-vaks/ 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. This
was probably the funniest of the many April Fool's forgeries
perpetrated on Usenet (which has negligible security against
them), because the notion that Usenet might ever penetrate
the Iron Curtain seemed so totally absurd at the time.
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, referred to it frequently in his own postings, and
at one point twitted some credulous readers by blandly
asserting that he *was* a hoax!
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 centreed 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