Key Russians

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  • Created by: marina
  • Created on: 06-07-12 15:21
Alexander I

The Russian tsar, or emperor, whose death in 1825 prompted a mild secession crisis that created an appearance of weakness in the Russian monarchy. A group of 3,000 soldiers who termed themselves Decembriststook advantage of the chaos to demand reforms, such as a written constitution for Russia. Later revolutionaries such as Lenin saw the Decembrists as heroes.

Alexander II

The Tsar who formally abolishedserfdom in1861, freeing Russia’s serfs from indentured servitude to their landowners. Though reformers hailed the move, it engendered a severe economic crisis, angered landowners, and prompted a number of revolutionary groups to agitate for a constitution. In 1881, Alexander II was assassinated by a member of one of these groups, prompting his successor, son Alexander III, to implement a harsh crackdown on public resistance.

Alexander III

The son of and successor to the assassinated Tsar Alexander II. Upon taking power in 1881, Alexander III cracked down severely on reform and revolutionary groups, prompting growing unrest. Alexander III’s son, Nicholas II, was the tsar in power during the Russian Revolution in 1917.

Felix Dzerzhinsky

A Polish-born revolutionary who joined the Bolshevik Party after getting out of prison in 1917. Following the October Revolution, Vladimir Lenin appointed Dzerzhinsky head of the Cheka, the first Soviet secret police force and an early forerunner of the KGB.

Lev Kamenev (a.k.a. Lev Rosenfeld)

A prominent member of the Bolshevik Party who initially resisted Lenin’s call to hold a revolution sooner rather than later. After the revolution, Kamenev went on to serve in the Soviet government but was executed during Josef Stalin’s purges of the 1930s.

Alexander Kerensky

A member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party and an active participant in both the provisional government and the Petrograd Soviet. At first, Kerensky acted as a liaison between the two governing bodies. Within the provisional government, he served as minister of justice, minister of war, and later as prime minister. After the October Revolution, Kerensky fled the country and eventually immigrated to the United States, where he taught Russian history at Stanford University.


The founder of theBolshevik Party, organizer of theOctober Revolution, and the first leader of the Soviet Union. Lenin spent most of the early twentieth century living in exile in Europe (primarily Britain and Switzerland). He was a devout follower of Marxism and believed that once a Communist revolution took place in Russia, Communism would spread rapidly around the world. Though not involved in the February Revolution, he returned to Russia in April1917 and orchestrated the October Revolution that turned Russia into a Communist state.

Nicholas I

The younger brother of and successor to Tsar Alexander I. This unorthodox succession from older to younger brother caused a small public scandal in1825 and enabled the Decembrist Revolt to take place. Nicholas I was succeeded by his son, Alexander II.

Nicholas II

The last Russian…


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