The economic problems faced were very serious.
- Russia suffered from a backward argricultural system.
- Yields were low due to strip farming.
- The government imposed high taxes on peasants and took a considerable amount of crops per year.
- There was great resentment among the peasantry which led to many taking part in the 1905 Revolution.
- Russia had a lot of foreign debt
- Most industrial growth was funded by other European countries (particularly France through loans)
- 30% of capital invested in Russia came from abroad- any crisis in Europe threatened Russia's financial stability.
- Russia fell into a period of trade recession at the turn of the century and this lasted to around 1906.
- Industrial workers and peasants suffered the most.
- Harvests were poor and there were high levels of unemployment and falling wages.
The poorest in Russia suffered terribly at the turn of the twentieth century.
- Industrial workers had to endure terrible living and working conditions.
- The Tsar's government did little to improve standards.
- Many turned to revolutionary political groups who claimed they could help them.
- Many people were illiterate (mostly peasants) which worked in the Tsar's favour- it blinded the peasantanry to how miserable their lives were.
- Russia's new industry was financed mainly through tax (excluding foreign loans)
- Peasants were taxed heavily even though they were least able to afford it.
- There was continued repression- the denial of freedoms and political repression widespread.
Weaknesses in Russia's political system made it unlikely that the social and economic problems could be dealt with.
- Russia was an autocracy- one man made the final decision in all areas of government.
- Tsar Nicholas II was less than a capable ruler.
- He was described as a devoted family man rather than a good political leader.
- He was determined not to change the autocratic system of government.
- He believed that democracy would destroy the Russian Empire.
- A Duma was established in 1906 but the Tsar largely ignored its reccomendations
- The vote was limited to the wealthiest people in society and those who sat on the Duma usually represented their conservative views.
- Demands for reform by the Zemstvos was always ignored by the Tsar and his government.
- (Zemstvos- land assemblies)
- The government was highly corrupt with the powerful political contacts tending to be the ones who advanced while promotion was rarely on merit.
- The Russian Orthodox Church was a major force against change. It had a big influence on the Tsar.
- All of these factors prevented the Tsar from making changes that were needed.
There were 3 forms of opposition to the Tsar.
- After 1906 this was concentrated mainly at the Duma and in the Zemstvos.
- Liberals supported a strong role for parliament in running the country.
- The Tsar didn't allow this. They wanted the Tsar to stick to the October Manifesto terms (Which he failed to do)
- At the start of the twentieth century the main revolutionary parties in Russia were the SR's (Socialist Revolutionaries) and the SDs (Social Democrats)- they split into the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks in 1903.
Opposition from non-Russian minorities:
- About half of Russia's population was ethnically non-Russian.
- The Tsar's opposition often prompted both Jewish people and other members of other minorities to join revolutionary groups.
Economic Problems 2
- Peasants hated the mortgage payments.
- Russia was vastly bigger than any other country=extremely inefficient transport network- this made the country appear more vast and inaccessible.