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The Revolutions
April 3, 2006 14:27

The Revolution of 1905

On January 9, 1905, in the Russian capital of St. Petersburg thousands of workers left their factories and headed towards the imperial Winter Palace. These people demanded salary rises and better working conditions. Communism supporters, the Bolsheviks, added to that demonstration several political requirements, among which there were amnesty for political prisoners, transferring land into national property rather than individual one and restriction of the monarch’s power. The strikers were met by armed imperial troops. However, no warnings could stop the riot, which eventually led to a tragedy known as the Bloody Sunday. More than 1200 people were killed and more than 2000 wounded. The events in the capital provoked arrests and strikes throughout the country. Socialist parties found a rich soil for their activities often leading riots and elaborating slogans for demonstration. 1905 – 1907 became the years of social unrest and radical political changes. The country's first parliament, Duma, was created, new parties emerged and the government with Prime Minister P.A. Stolypin was obviously heading towards reforms. Nevertheless, further conflicts were inevitable, especially when it came to agricultural reforms aimed at providing peasants with land property. The nobility held tight in defending its interests and powers. Riots and revolutionary activities went on arising occasionally all over the country.

World War I

The burden of internal problems became even more pressing when Germany declared war on Russia in 1914. Several advances of the Russian troops were soon followed by defeats. War converted into a long and costly campaign, for which Russia was not prepared. Huge human losses and constant retreats made the war extremely unpopular. Shocking rumors began to spread, depicting the imperial family as religious fanatics controlled by Siberian monk Rasputin. Rasputin was accused of shameless orgies and state treason. But the empress Alexandra thought him to be a saint man that could relieve the pains of her only son, suffering from hemophilia. The fact that such man as Rasputin could influence the empress did not add popularity to the German-born wife of Nicolas II. Accusations of treason inside the imperial family were heard and popular discontent was growing, leading to the next revolution.

Russian Revolution of 1917

On February 1917 a new riot in St. Petersburg busted out. The main slogans were: "Bread!", "Peace!" and demands to finish with the war. This time troops joined the strike. No other choices were left for Nicolas II except for abdication, which put an end to the Russian Empire. Formally, the power passed to the Provisional Government, composed of Duma’s liberals and commercial elite. Another political body, the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, formed as a result of February Revolution (1917), represented the second major political power. Actually, a system of diarchy came into existence. However, none of these two governing bodies managed to keep the power for long. On October 25, 1917 the Bolsheviks, headed by V. Lenin, initiated a new revolution aimed at seizing a total control over the country. The era of the Soviet state began.


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