Government of the USSR under Lenin 1917-24


1.            Key dates

  • 7-9 November 1917: 2nd All Russian Congress of Soviets

Transfer power from Provisional Government to soviets. The opposition delegates walked out in protest, arguing this was illegal. The Socialist Revolutionary Party split in to right-SRs (anti-Bolshevik) and left-SRs (pro-Bolshevik) groups.

  • 8 November 1917: Sovnarkom established as an interim Russian Government

The 2nd Congress of Soviets elected Sovnarkom, with Lenin as leader, as the acting Soviet government. The Congress approved Sovnarkom’s decrees on Peace, Land and Workers’ Rights.

  • 25 November 1917: Elections for the Constituent Assembly

A special parliament that would decide Russia’s new constitution. Bolsheviks won less than 25% of the vote. Became dominated by the rival Socialist Revolutionary party so Lenin closed down for being ‘bourgeois’.

  • 11 December 1917: The liberal Cadet party was banned

Start of creating a one party state. Lenin let the Left-SRs form a coalition with the Bolsheviks and appointed some as commissars (ministers).

  • 15 December 1917: Armistice with Germany

Bolsheviks opened Peace talks with Germany. Germany made harsh demands, which most Bolsheviks and the Left-SRs could not accept.

  • 20 December 1917: Establishment of the Cheka

Lenin created a secret police who could act outside the law. They could arrest and imprison opponents of the Bolsheviks on suspicion of their disloyalty.

  • 18 January 1918: The Constituent Assembly met in Petrograd (St. Petersburg)

The anti-Bolshevik majority refused to approve Sovnarkom’s decrees and Lenin’s call for immediate new elections. Central Executive Committee announced that the Constituent Assembly had been dissolved.

  • 23-30 January 1918: 3rd All Russian Congress of Soviets

The Congress voted to approve the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and to approve the Declaration of the Rights of the Working Class and Exploited People.

  • 28 January 1918: Establishment of the Red Army

Sovnarkom set up a dedicated, professional army for the new RSFSR to defend the new government from its enemies both at home and abroad.

  • 18 February 1918: End the armistice

Fighting on the resumed after the Germany announced that they couldn’t accept peace without a large transfer of land from Russia.

  • 3 March 1918: Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

The 7th Party Congress agreed to immediate peace with Germany to save Petrograd and the Revolution. Paid Germany 6 billion marks and 1/3 of their European territory.

  • May 1918: Start of the Russian Civil War

Socialist Revolutionary party congress voted to set up an anti-Bolshevik government and start an uprising due to undemocratic Bolshevik system and peace treaty.

  • 10 July 1918: Constitution for the RSFSR adopted by the Congress of Soviets

Political system set up.  No votes for anti-Bolsheviks. All other political parties including the Left-SRs were banned. All Russian citizens had a duty to labor. Peasants and workers were eligible for conscription.

  • 17 July 1918: Shooting of


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