Russia in Revolution 1881-1924

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Russia in Revolution 1881-1924
Rural country, economy based upon agriculture
Population 1831 ­ 56 million, 1881 ­ 98 million
Tsar ­ complete political power
Alexander II ­ Tsar Liberator
Emancipation of the serfs
80% of the population were serfs, major obstacle in modernisation of
Led to subsistence agriculture (serfs only produced enough to feed
Alexander II issued imperial decree which abolished serfdom
Alexander III
Problems he faced:
Russian crisis following assassination of Alexander II
Alexander II had started making reforms which raised expectations of
change in Russia
Needed to modernise like western Europe, would involve reforming the
autocracy and allow an elective parliament
Fathers reforms had led to an elective local government (zemstva, 1864)
This led to a rise in expectations
People realised they needed to get rid of the Tsar, `People's will' formed
to do this. Assassinated Tsar II
Repression & reaction:
Assassination of the Tsar threatened entire social and political system
When Alexander III launched repression he had widespread support
from the upper levels of society
Political Repression:
Reformists ranged from moderates (included liberals, supported
peaceful political change, wanted national parliament elected by the
wealthy) to extremists (people's will wanted to destroy the tsar giving
power to the people, others wanted power handed to the peasants)
Alexander II's liberal ministers were removed
Replaced by Konstantin Pobedonostsev ­ Chief Procurator of the Holy
Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. Gained large amount of power
and influence
Masterminded Alexander III's manifesto:
Absolute political power lay with the Tsar
Tsar needed to destroy the people's will
Set up 'Statute of State Security' ­ giving the government power to
arrest and try opponents without a jury (existed until 1917)
Censorship was introduced. Universities came under government
Just forced extremist groups underground

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Increased central control:
Undid many of the reforms of Alexander II
1889 introduced `Land Captains' to enforce local laws (eventually made
members of Zemstva)
Now the most repressive state in Europe (censorship, no legal political
activity, wide ranging police powers)
The policy of Russification:
Insisting of the use of Russian language to bring all racial groups
Punished the Jews
Financial reform:
First finance minister ­ Nikolai Bunge
Reduced the tax burden on peasants
Established peasant land bank, offering loans to help
increase size of…read more

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Coal, iron and oil production rose
By 1900 over half of the industrial workforce were employed in
Therefore large cities had very large populations, which led to poor
living conditions
Ideal environment for social unrest and radical alternatives
Led to demonstration and strikes for better conditions
Extra taxation on peasants led to deep resentment and peasant uprisings
Radical parties
The tradition of radicalism:
Forerunners were the populist movement (disliked the Tsar, wanted to
replace with local democracy, looked to the peasants for support)
Tried…read more

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Rapidly growing population and harvest failures
Peasant attacked government officials
However under Witte economy rapidly developed which led to rapid
growth of population in cities and poor living conditions.…read more

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Ended when government troops arrested leaders
Armed Uprisings:
December ­ several thousand armed workers battle with police and
government troops
Defeated and the revolution was over
The government reaction
Tsar issues October Manifesto
Promised reforms, accepted the proposal that an elected national
parliament be created
Proposed freedom of speech, religion and civil rights
Pleased many liberals, they accepted it and supported the Tsar
However other liberals saw this as just the beginning (Kadets)
Mensheviks & Bolsheviks wanted major social and economic reforms
The October…read more

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The Upper House (Council of State) was partly elected and partly
nominated by the Tsar
Gave the Tsar the right to govern by decree, ignoring parliament and
could still choose his own government.
The Dumas
Contained large numbers of deputies who wanted major reform, such as
land reform and release of political prisoners. Only lasted 73 days
before the Tsar dissolved it.
A second Duma was elected, but it also contained many reformers.
Replaced by a third Duma, restricted franchise.
Only the wealthy could vote.…read more

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Dissolved after 72days
Made 391 requests and only 2 were passed
Vyborg Manifesto
Duma deputies asked the Russian people to resist the Tsars action
through non-payment of taxes
But the plan backfired- the 200 deputies were banned from standing for
the next Duma
The Second Duma
Number of Kadets halved
SR's and Social Democrats gained seats
Radical parties gained seats, and passed important land reforms but only
lasted 3 months as it criticised the administration of the army
The police framed members for trying to…read more

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Russia's military performance
The war began well. But patriotism didn't last long, and success was
30,000 troops were killed
95,000 were captured
But, captured town in Austria-Hungary
Russians forced out of Poland
Tue to defeat by Poland Nicholas II took command himself as
Commander-in-chief of the Russian army
Left the government to his wife, the Tsarina
Brusilov Offensive 1916. But had to retreat.…read more

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Rasputin was murdered by a group of nobles hoping his death would
aid Russian war effort
The February Revolution
The Petrograd demonstrations
140,000 workers went on strike to commemorate the anniversary of
Bloody Sunday
Strikes about food shortage occurred also
Bread rationing
Same day Duma was reconvened and it attacked government over food
Demonstrations to commemorate International Women's Day
Soviets were formed to formulate demands against the government
Newspapers were shut down and transport did not operate
The defection of the armed forces
Cossack…read more

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Once the Tsar abdicated, the Provisional Government became the
replacement government of Russia. (Octobrists & Kadets ­ minority
Rivals ­ Soviets, soldiers, Sailors forming the `United Petrograd Soviet' ­
Eventually developed into the `All-Russia Soviet' claimed the right to
issue laws for Russia
The Provisional Government shared political power with the Soviet
Kerensky- July 1917 became PM and was head of Provisional
Provisional Government was very open and liberal
The Soviet was very left, made up of Social Revolutionaries and Social
Democrats.…read more


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