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How did Alexander III bring political and social change to Russia?
The 13th March 1881, Alexander II was assassinated by the `People's Will''. Alexander II
acquired the title `Tsar Liberator' due to the reforms he implemented such as; the
emancipation of the serfs in 1861, creation of zemstva in 1864 and the introduction of trial
by jury in the 1870's. Due to the death of the Tsar Liberator, his son Alexander III became
Alexander III brought social and political change to Russia by repression; his reign brought
the end of any further political reform. Part of Alexander III's problem was the legacy left by
his father; he had begun reforms which raised expectations of major change within Russia.
Alexander III had made it known that he did not approve of his father's modernising policies,
so when he became Tsar, he brought an end to political reform and embarked on returning
Russia back to conservatism.
The first change Alexander III made to the political system was the liberal ministers Melikov
and Ignatiev were replaced by the Chief Procurator of the Russian Orthodox Church,
Pobedonostsev. Pobedonostsev had immense power and influence; he believed that
absolute political power resided with the Tsar and strongly supported autocracy, the Russian
Orthodox Church and Russian nationalism.
Alexander III's new government set up government controlled courts to try government
opponents. People were arrested and put on trial without a jury. Those who were seen as
guilty were executed or exiled to Siberia.
One way Alexander brought a social change to Russia was through the government trying to
prevent the spread of radical and liberal ideas. Freedom of the press was severely restricted.
Foreign books and newspapers were censored by the Okhrana to stop foreign ideas like
democracy and parliamentary government reaching Russian people. Universities were also
under strict government supervision. University fees were increased to allow only the
wealthy to attend; this prevented the lower classes from receiving an education and
therefore lowered the chances of them trying to start a revolution.
Soon Pobedonostsev, under Alexander III permission, began to repress the country further
by undoing some of Alexander II's reforms. The creation of `'Land Captains'' soon replaced
locally elected justices of peace, to enforce local laws. Land captains were autocrats; they
became members of the zemstva which was also restricted to ensure the aristocracy had
the most political power. This was also to prevent the peasantry from trying to start a
revolution. Another way in which Alexander III prevented this as well as bring a social change
was by placing religious control over primary schools and ensuring that children from
peasantry families did not have the opportunity to go to secondary school; depriving them
of an education.
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In 1890 after Zasulich shot dead the police chief of St Petersburg in broad daylight and the
Jury delivered a `not-guilty' verdict, the government exercised the right to choose juries.
Alexander III re established the autocratic power of the Tsar. Through the support from
aristocracy and the Russian Orthodox Church. However this had come at a cost; Political
freedom was suppressed and socially, the rights of ethnic and religious were undermined by
the Russian majority.…read more