Russification and the Years of the Red Cockerel

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Russification became an official policy in the reigns of Alexander III and Nicholas II. Pobedonostev was a particularly ardent supporter and rampant anti-semite (hater of Jews). Both Poland and Finland suffered attempts to destroy their national culture as well as provinces. The use of the Russian language was enforced and risings of ethnic peoples mercifully supressed.  The radical groups suffered the most from this intense nationalism was the Jews who, since 1736, had only been allowed to live in an area of western Russia known as 'the pale of settlement'. Anti-Jewish pogroms broke out in 1881 in the Ukraine, where there was a large Jewish population, and they soon spread to other towns. The governing authorities made little attempt to intervene and it is likely that the Okhrana actually encouraged the rioters. Jewish property was brunt, shops and businesses destroyed, women ***** and many put to death. 

The effect of such policies, among the Jews who remained in Russia was to drive a disproportionate number of them towards the revolutionary groups, and in particular Marxist socialist organisations.They became involved in the Marxist Social Democratic Movement, playing an important role in the growth of opposition to the autocracy under Nicholas II.

By 1904, Russia was in turmoil. There was widespread unrest in both towns and countryside and Nicholas II seemed to have nothing to offer. At the top there was no leadership or sense of direction. Although hard working, the Tsar seemed to have no sense of reality and was easily influenced by the reactionary advisers he chose to surround himself with.  More competent men like Witte- whom he dismissed as minister of Finance and president of the Council of Ministers in 1903-  were treated with…


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