Russian History - The February Revolution

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Bulat Salaev                IB History
Mr.Neate                21.06.2012

The February Revolution

The Octobrists in the duma had frequently demanded the removal of unwanted ministers and generals. A full-scale strike started on 18 February by the employees of Putilov steel factory (the largest and most politically active factory in Petrograd). 23 February was the International Women’s Day; this brought thousands of women on to the streets to join the protesters in demanding food and an end to the war. By 25 February, Petrograd was paralysed by a city-wide strike; dispersing the workers was prevented by the growing sympathy among the police for the demonstrators. Political protests were indistinguishable from the general protest against food shortages and the miseries brought by war.

Nicholas ordered the commander of the Petrograd garrison, General Khabalov, to restore order. Khabalov wasn’t able to do that since the police and militia either fought each other or joined the demonstrators and his own garrison troops disobeyed orders; the situation was uncontrollable. The duma informed the tsar that only a major compromise on the government’s part offered any hope of preserving the imperial power. Nicholas then ordered the duma to dissolve. It did so formally as an assembly, but a group of 12 members disobeyed the order and remained in session as ‘Provisional Committee’. Immediately followed by the request from a leading SR member Alexander Kerensky, to the tsar, to stand down as head of state or be deposed.

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The Petrograd Soviet was formed on the same day as the Provisional Committee, on 27 February; the moving force of the Soviet was the Menshiviks, who under their local leader Alexander Shlyapnikov, had grown in strength in Petrograd during the war. The Provisional Committee represented the reformist elements of the old duma, while the Soviet spoke for the striking workers and rebellious troops. This was later called the ‘dual authority’, an uneasy alliance that was to last until October. On 28 February the Soviet published the first edition of its newspaper Izvestiya, in which it declared its determination to wipe out ...

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