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How far had Alexander II fulfilled the hopes of reformers in Russia by 1881?

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Introduction

How far had Alexander II fulfilled the hopes of reformers in Russia by the time of his death in 1881? For Alexander II to be deemed as the Tsar who had fulfilled the hopes of reformers in Russia it would mean that he had managed to establish the National Assembly, modernise the social structure in Russia and successfully kick start the economy. Evidently, such reforms did not occur by 1881 however it is true that he had tried to modernise Russia in those terms. Local government reform was a big step towards democracy however it would be too simplistic to regard the establishment of Zemstva and Duma as an element that had fulfilled the hopes of reformers. ...read more.

Middle

They had no control over taxes and the 'provincial governors' had control over appointments of officials. Such system favoured those who sat on them and was in a direct control of the Tsar's government. This way, local government reform failed to fulfill the hopes of reformers who counted on the establishment of the National Assembly. Westerners hoped that Alexander II's Emancipation Act would finally break down the social structure in Russia. This did not occur. Although Alexander II in theory emancipated 40 mln of serfs, they still had to pay 'redemption fees' for another 49 years with 6% of interest rate. They right to civil rights and travel was largely restricted by mirs who, other than that, often gave the peasants land for price 90% over its market value. ...read more.

Conclusion

Proceedings were also allowed to be reported in press(particularly in 'Russian courier') and political prisoners were treated much fairer that at times of Nicholas I's repression. Such system has been described by Wartman as the wake of 'Russian legal consciousness'. Indeed, judiciary reform can be regarded as very successfull in fulfilling the hopes of reformers. Overall, Alexander II had fulfilled the hopes of reformers to a certain extent. Had he been a real 'tsar-reformer' he would have pushed the reforms ever further to establishing the National Assembly. He raised the expectations of reformers and the actions of his government were often descirbed as 'what government gave away with one hand, it took back with the other' (Saunders). However, his reforms were a big step towards democracy. ...read more.

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