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Problems facing Alexander III in 1881
· Challenge of absolute monarchy after the
assassination of Alexander II ­ especially as there
was lots of promise for change after Alexander II
had begun reforms to suggest this
· Large multi-ethnic empire had to be kept together
· Pressure to make Russia more like west and
central Europe from advisors ­ which included
allowing elective parliament (Westerners vs.
· Legacy left by father to continue reforms…read more

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Repression and reaction
· Upper classes, aristocracy and senior members of
the Russian Orthodox Church were unsettled by
the assassination of Alexander II because they
were not supported by the peasants or working
classes ­ their power derived from the Tsar so a
threat to his position was a threat to theirs too
· Therefore, Alexander III's campaign of repression
had widespread support from these groups as well
as Slavophiles…read more

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Political repression
· Those who wanted reform ranged from moderates (e.
g. Liberals who supported peaceful change) to
extremists (e.g. The People's Will ­ who were nihilists
and were responsible for the assassination of
Alexander II)
· Liberals wanted freedom of press and a national
parliament elected by the educated and wealthy
· Some wanted political and economic control handed to
the peasants
· In areas like Poland, nationalists wanted to create their
own national state, outside of the Russian empire.
· Common desire to change the political system…read more

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So what did the Tsar do to combat
unrest & dash the hopes of reform?
· Alexander II's liberal ministers (Loris ­ Melikov and
Ignatiev) left office replaced by Pobedonostsev ­ chief
procurator of the Holy Synod (governing body) of the
Russian Orthodox Church ­ he was a Slavophile ­ he
masterminded the new Tsar's manifesto
· Manifesto declared absolute power lay in the hands of the
· Tsar set out to destroy The People's Will by introducing the
Statue of State Security, which set up government-
controlled courts to try political opponents
· They faced execution or exile to Siberia
· These courts were meant to be temporary, but remained
until 1917…read more

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What else did he do to stop reform?
· Restricted press freedom to prevent the spread of
radical and liberal ideas
· Foreign books and newspapers were vigorously
censored by the Okhrana (Secret Police) in order
to stop ideas of democracy and parliamentary
government reaching the Russian public
· University fees were increased, to exclude all but
the very wealthy. In 1884 becoming owned by the
government. They closed temporarily in 1889 due
to student protests about government control…read more

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