The Provisional Government

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The Provisional Government and Petrograd Soviet

On 2nd March, Provisional Government was declared, made up largely of the leading figures of the Liberal Parties. It was dominated by the Kadets and their leader, Milyukov, who became foreign minister. One socialist minister, Alexander Kerensky, who became Minister of Justice, major part of events that unfolded in 1917. The new Prime Minister, Prince Lvov. 

The Provisional G was a temporary government until Russian elections to a Constituent Assembly could take place. The Tauride Palace- where Duma members were meeting- was were the Petrograd Soviet was formed on Monday 27 February. Idea arisen from Menshevik intellectuals, and became the focus of the working-class aspirations. Factories asked to elect delegates to attend full meeting of the soviet. Dominated by Mensheviks, and non-party intellectuals. Chairman was leading Menshevik, Chkheidze.

Soldiers wanted to protect their own interests, on 1 March, went to the Soviet and demanded representation. Gained the famous Order No. 1 where the soldiers would only obey the orders of the PG if they agreed and they gained control of weapons. PG and PS had 'dual power', however PS had the real power. 

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Why the Soviet didn't take power

1.The leaders of the Soviet did not think the time was right for the workers to form a government. The Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries believed Russia must go through a 'Bourgeouis revolution' before the workers could assume power according to the Marxist theory. Believed there should be a long period of capitalism, where society became more industrialised and proletariat became much larger.

2. They wanted to avoid a civil-war and counter-revolution. Needed to keep middle class and army commanders on their side. These higher class groups supported the Duma Citizens (PG and solid middle class citizens) to control. Didn't support socialist government that was hostile to them and military power. 

3. Leaders of the Soviet, mainly socialist intellectuals, were scared; not sure they could control the masses. Thought all the anger in the streets may turn to them, so leaders with little government experience stepped back. 

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The Honeymoon of the Revolution

Little conflict between the PG and PS in the first two months. First measures taken by the PG:

  • Tsarist Ministers and officials were imprisoned. 
  • Secret Police were disbanded.
  • The First Decree of the PG granted a pardon for political and religious prisoners and established freedom of the press/speech.
  • Death Penalty abolished.
  • Discrimination on social, religious or national grounds made illegal.
  • PG promised it would arrange Consituent Assembly elections that would determine future gvt of Russia.

Support for the new gvt was strong from Urban and Rural areas. Workers pleased as they could secure the right to strike and to organise trade unions, 8-hour working day and the recognition of factory committees. Tsarism ditched. 

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What was happening in the Rest of Russia

  • The PG dismissed the old Tsarist governers and replaced them with commissars (usually the old Zemtva chairmen).
  • Committees of Public Organisations were set up, run by middle class Zemstvo.
  • Committees were set up to voice people of rural areas.
  • Lvov, PM, Encouraged local towns to run their own affairs.
  • War was still being fought and soldiers were dying, honeymoon period coming to an end. 
  • Still shortages of fuel and food. 
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