The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies (Russian: Петроградский Совет рабочих и солдатских депутатов, Petrogradskiy soviet rabochikh i soldatskikh deputatov) was a city council of Petrograd (Saint Petersburg), the capital of the Russian Empire. For brevity, it is usually called the Petrograd Soviet (Russian: Петроградский совет, Petrogradskiy soviet).
The soviet was established in March 1917 after the February Revolution as a representative body of the city's workers and soldiers, while the city already had its well established city council, the Saint Petersburg City Duma (Central Duma). During the revolutionary days, the council tried to extend its jurisdiction nationwide as a rival power center to the Provisional Government, creating what in Soviet historiography is known as the Dvoyevlastiye (Dual power). Its committees were key components during the Russian Revolution and some of them led the armed revolt of the October Revolution.
|Formation||March 12, 1917|
|Extinction||1924 (succeeded by Lensoviet)|
Before 1914, Petrograd was known as Saint Petersburg, and in 1905 the workers' soviet called the St Petersburg Soviet was created. But the main precursor to the 1917 Petrograd Soviet was the Central Workers' Group (Центральная Рабочая Группа, Tsentral'naya Rabochaya Gruppa), founded in November 1915 by the Mensheviks to mediate between workers and the new Central Military-Industrial Committee in Petrograd. The group became increasingly radical as World War I progressed and the economic situation worsened, encouraging street demonstrations and issuing revolutionary proclamations.
On January 27, 1917 (all dates Old Style) the entire leadership of the Central Workers' Group was arrested and taken to the Peter and Paul Fortress on the orders of Alexander Protopopov, the Minister of the Interior in Imperial Russia. They were freed by a crowd of disaffected soldiers on the morning of February 27, the beginning of the February Revolution, and the chairman convened a meeting to organize and elect a Soviet of Workers' Deputies that day.
That evening, between 50 and 300 people attended the meeting at the Tauride Palace. A provisional executive committee (Ispolkom) was chosen, named "Provisional Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies" and chaired by Nikolay Chkheidze, and with mostly Menshevik deputies. (Chkheize was replaced by Irakli Tsereteli in late March). Izvestia was chosen as the official newspaper of the group. The following day, February 28, was the plenary session; elected representatives from factories and the military joined the soviet, and again moderates dominated. Non-representative voting and enthusiasm gave the Soviet almost 3,000 deputies in two weeks, of which the majority were soldiers. The meetings were chaotic, confused and unruly, little more than a stage for speechmakers. The party-based Ispolkom quickly took charge of actual decision-making.
The members of the Executive Committee, called Ispolkom, came only from political groups, with every socialist party given three seats (agreed March 18). This created an intellectual and radical head to the peasant-, worker-, and soldier-dominated body. The Executive Committee meetings were more intense and almost as disorderly as the public meetings, and were often extremely long.
On March 1, the Executive Committee resolved to remain outside any new State Duma. This allowed the group to criticize without responsibility, and kept them away from any potential backlash. On March 2, the Soviet received the eight-point program of the Provisional Committee of the State Duma, appointed an oversight committee (nabliudatel'nyi komitet), and issued a decidedly conditional statement of support. Moreover, the Soviet undermined the Provisional Government by issuing its own orders, beginning with the seven-article Order No. 1. The Soviet was not opposed to the war – internal divisions produced a public ambivalence–but was deeply worried about counterrevolutionary moves from the military, and was determined to have garrison troops firmly on its side.
The Ispolkom (the "executive committee") of the Petrograd Soviet often publicly attacked the Provisional Government as bourgeois and boasted of its de facto power over de jure authority (control over post, telegraphs, the press, railroads, food supply, and other infrastructure). A "shadow government" with a Contact Commission was created on March 8 to "inform... [the Provisional Government] about the demands of the revolutionary people, to exert pressure on the government to dissatisfy all these demands, and to exercise uninterrupted control over their implementation." On March 19, the control extended into the military front lines with commissars appointed with Ministry of War support.
In March 1917, the Petrograd Soviet was opposed to the workers, which protested its deliberations with strikes. On March 8, the Menshevik newspaper Rabochaia Gazeta even claimed that the strikers were discrediting the soviet by disobeying it.
The Ispolkom expanded to 19 members on April 8, nine representing the Soldiers' Section, and ten the Workers' Section. All members were socialists, the majority Mensheviks or Socialist-Revolutionaries; there was no Bolshevik representation. After the first All-Russian Congress of Soviets (June/July 1917), the Petrograd Soviet began adding representatives from other parts of Russia and the front lines, renaming itself the All-Russian Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. The executive committee became the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (CEC or VTsIK) with over 70 members (but no peasant representatives). The mass meetings of the body tapered from daily in the first weeks to roughly weekly by April.
Disputes over war aims led to street protests on April 20–21, including military units protesting outside the Mariinsky Palace. The unrest was quickly directed by Bolshevik leaders into what some interpret as a coup attempt. The Ispolkom issued proclamations to restrain disorder and repeatedly quashed Lavr Kornilov's demands to put troops and artillery on the streets. There were riots in Petrograd, and also Moscow, but anti-Bolshevik and pro-Provisional Government groups soon stopped the agitators.
The riots deeply worried the Provisional Government. There were a number of resignations, and on May 1, the Ispolkom voted to allow its members to take Cabinet posts in return for further concessions. Bolsheviks and left Menshevik followers of Julius Martov opposed this and any cooperation with the Provisional Government. After negotiations, a new cabinet was chosen on May 6. Alexander Guchkov and Pavel Milyukov, the leader of the Constitutional Democrats (Cadets), left the government. Alexander Kerensky was moved to the Ministry of War. Six socialists took cabinet posts.
The rise of the Bolsheviks throughout 1917 is known as the Bolshevization of soviets. The Bolsheviks rapidly assumed the mantle of the official opposition, and took advantage of the new socialist presence in the Cabinet to attack them for the failures of the Provisional Government. The Bolsheviks began a strong run of propaganda. In June, 100,000 copies of Pravda (including Soldatskaya Pravda, Golos Pravdy, and Okopnaya Pravda) were printed daily. In July, over 350,000 leaflets were distributed. The July Days riots from July 16–17 led by the Bolsheviks were without success.
The rise of Kerensky, and the later shock of the Kornilov affair, polarized the political scene. The Petrograd Soviet moved steadily leftwards, just as those of the center and right consolidated around Kerensky. Despite the events in July, the Ispolkom moved to protect the Bolsheviks from serious consequences, adopting resolutions on August 4 and August 18 against the arrest and prosecution of Bolsheviks. Still wary of the Ispolkom, the government released many senior Bolsheviks on bail or promise of good behavior.
In the August 20 municipal elections, the Bolsheviks took a third of the votes, a 50% increase in three months.
During the Kornilov affair, the Ispolkom was forced to use the Bolsheviks' military as its main force against the "counter-revolution". Kerensky ordered the distribution of 40,000 rifles to the workers of Petrograd (some Red Guards), many of which ended in the hands of Bolshevik groups.
As other socialist parties abandoned the Soviet organizations, the Bolsheviks increased their presence. On September 25, they gained a majority in the Workers' Section and Leon Trotsky was elected chairman. He directed the transformation of the Soviet into a revolutionary organ according to Bolshevik policies.
On October 6, with a German advance threatening the city, the government - after advice from the military – made plans to evacuate to Moscow. The Ispolkom attacked the move, and Trotsky had the soldiers' section, who were mostly Mensheviks, vote on a resolution condemning the evacuation. The Provisional Government postponed evacuation indefinitely. Its attempts to dispatch Petrograd garrison units to the front were resisted by the troops and by the Ispolkom.
On October 9, the Soviet considered the creation of a Committee of Revolutionary Defense. The Bolsheviks and Trotsky amended the resolution to include security of Petrograd against both German and domestic threats. The Plenum of the Soviet voted for a committee to "gather... all the forces participating in the defense of Petrograd... to arm the workers... ensuring the revolutionary defense of Petrograd... against the... military and civilian Kornilovites."
The Ispolkom approved the resolution, against Menshevik resistance, on October 12, and the Soviet approved it on October 16 (despite warnings by the Mensheviks and SRs), creating the Military Revolutionary Committee (Voenno-Revoliutsionnyi Komitet), also called the Milrevcom or Military Committee.
The Military-Revolutionary Committee was chaired by Pavel Lazimir, with Nikolai Podvoisky as his deputy. It was a front for the activities of the Bolshevik's Military Organization. Podvoisky would take official control of the Committee on the day of the uprising, with Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko as secretary. The Ispolkom and the Provisional Government had been cut out of control of the forces in the Petrograd Military District, since very few of them remained loyal to them.
The Military Staff was side-lined on the night of October 21, when the Milrevcom took exclusive control of the garrison in the name of the Soldiers' Section of the Soviet. The District commander, Colonel Polkovnikov, refused to allow this control, and he and his staff were condemned in a Milrevcom public statement as "a direct weapon of the counter-revolutionary forces". The military command responded with an ultimatum to the Soviet, which led to delaying negotiations and meetings on October 23 and 24.
The Bolshevik-popular uprising began on October 24, when "liberal" forces tried to shut down Pravda and take other steps to secure the government. The Milrevcom sent armed groups to seize the main telegraph offices and lower the bridges across the Neva. That night, the Bolsheviks took control quickly and easily, since the vast majority of both the guard and the workers had sided with them, participating in the plans of the "Milrevcom".
The following morning at 10am, the Milrevcom issued an announcement written by Lenin, declaring the end of the Provisional Government and the transfer of power to the Petrograd Soviet. In the early afternoon, Trotsky convened an Extraordinary Session of the Petrograd Soviet, to preempt the Congress of Soviets. It was packed with Bolsheviks and Left SR deputies.
That evening, the Second Congress of Soviets opened in the Assembly Hall in Smolnyi. The 600 or so delegates chose a Presidium of 3 Mensheviks and 21 Bolsheviks and Left SRs.
The following day, the Ispolkom rejected the workings of the Congress and called on the Soviets and the army to defend the Revolution. But in the evening, the Congress dismissed the Ispolkom and replaced it by a new group of 101 members (62 Bolsheviks) under Lev Borisovich Kamenev. It also approved the Decree on Peace, the Decree on Land and the formation of a new government - the Council of People's Commissars (Sovet Narodnykh Komissarov, abbreviated to Sovnarkom) – until the meeting of the Constituent Assembly. The Sovnarkom was accountable to the CEC/VTsIK in theory, but the organization was in every aspect powerless.
Events from the year 1917 in RussiaAlexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky (Russian: Алекса́ндр Фёдорович Ке́ренский, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr ˈkʲerʲɪnskʲɪj]; Russian: Александръ Ѳедоровичъ Керенскій; 4 May 1881 – 11 June 1970) was a Russian lawyer and revolutionist who was a key political figure in the Russian Revolution of 1917. After the February Revolution of 1917, he joined the newly formed Russian Provisional Government, first as Minister of Justice, then as Minister of War, and after July as the government's second Minister-Chairman. A leader of the moderate-socialist Trudoviks faction of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, he was also vice-chairman of the powerful Petrograd Soviet. On 7 November, his government was overthrown by the Lenin-led Bolsheviks in the October Revolution. He spent the remainder of his life in exile, in Paris and New York City, and worked for the Hoover Institution.Boris Ugarov
Boris Sergeevich Ugarov (Russian: Бори́с Серге́евич Уга́ров; February 6, 1922, Petrograd, Soviet Russia – August 2, 1991, Leningrad, Russian Federation) was a Russian Soviet realist painter and art educator, Honored Artist of the RSFSR, who lived and worked in Leningrad. He was a member of the Leningrad Union of Artists regarded as one of the brightest representatives of the Leningrad school of painting.Dual power
"Dual Power" (Russian: Двоевластие, tr. Dvoyevlastiye) was a term first used by communist Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin (1870–1924), in the Pravda article titled "The Dual Power". which described a situation in the wake of the February Revolution, the first of two Russian Revolutions in that tumultuous year of 1917. Two powers coexisted with each other and competed for legitimacy: the Soviets (workers councils), particularly the Petrograd Soviet, and the continuing official state apparatus of the Provisional Government of democratic socialists.
Lenin argued that this essentially unstable situation constituted a unique opportunity for the Soviets and Bolsheviks to seize power by smashing the weak tottering Provisional Government and establishing themselves as the basis of a new form of state power.
This notion has informed the strategies of subsequent communist-led revolutions elsewhere in the world, including the Chinese Revolution of 1949 led by Mao Zedong (1893–1976) after the Chinese Civil War (1927–1931 and 1946–1949) and in eastern Europe after World War II (1939–1945), such as in Czechoslovakia where after three years of post-war agitation and occupation, the invading Russian Red Army finally overthrew the moderate government with the Communists seizing power in 1948.February Revolution
The February Revolution (Russian: Февра́льская револю́ция, IPA: [fʲɪvˈralʲskəjə rʲɪvɐˈlʲutsɨjə]), known in Soviet historiography as the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution, was the first of two revolutions which took place in Russia in 1917.
The main events of the revolution took place in and near Petrograd (present-day St. Petersburg), the then-capital of Russia, where long-standing discontent with the monarchy erupted into mass protests against food rationing on 23 February Old Style (8 March New Style). Revolutionary activity lasted about eight days, involving mass demonstrations and violent armed clashes with police and gendarmes, the last loyal forces of the Russian monarchy. On 27 February O.S. (12 March N.S.) mutinous Russian Army forces sided with the revolutionaries. Three days later Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, ending Romanov dynastic rule and the Russian Empire. A Russian Provisional Government under Prince Georgy Lvov replaced the Council of Ministers of Russia.
The revolution appeared to break out without any real leadership or formal planning. Russia had been suffering from a number of economic and social problems, which compounded after the start of World War I in 1914. Disaffected soldiers from the city's garrison joined bread rioters, primarily women in bread lines, and industrial strikers on the streets. As more and more troops deserted, and with loyal troops away at the Front, the city fell into chaos, leading to the overthrow of the Tsar. In all, over 1,300 people were killed during the protests of February 1917.Henryk Ehrlich
Henryk Ehrlich (sometimes spelled Henryk Erlich; 1882 – 15 May 1942) was an activist of the Bund, member of the Petrograd Soviet, Warsaw City Council and member of the executive committee of the Second International. His father-in-law was noted Jewish historian Simon Dubnow.Irakli Tsereteli
Irakli Tsereteli (Georgian: ირაკლი [კაკი] გიორგის ძე წერეთელი; Russian: Ира́клий Гео́ргиевич Церете́ли, Irakliy Georgievich Tsereteli; 20 November 1881 – 20 May 1959) was a Georgian politician and a leading Social-Democratic spokesman during the era of the Russian Revolutions. He was born and brought up in Georgia when it was part of the Russian Empire,
A member of the Menshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, Tsereteli was elected to the Duma in 1907, where he gained fame for his oratory abilities. Shortly after entering the Duma, Tsereteli was arrested and charged with conspiracy to overthrow the Tsarist government, and exiled to Siberia. Returning in the aftermath of the 1917 February Revolution, he took up a leading position with the Petrograd Soviet and accepted a position in the Russian Provisional Government as Minister of Post and Telegraph, and briefly as Minister of the Interior. After the October Revolution and rise of the Bolsheviks, he returned to Georgia. Tsereteli worked as a diplomat at the Paris Peace Conference, where he lobbied for international recognition and assistance for the newly independent Democratic Republic of Georgia, which largely failed to materialize before the Red Army invaded in 1921. He spent the rest of his life in exile, mainly in France, working with socialist organisations and writing on socialism, and died in New York in 1959.
A dedicated social democrat, Tsereteli was one of the leading figures of the movement in Russia. In 1915, during his Siberian exile, he formed what became known as Siberian Zimmerwaldism, and developed "Revolutionary Defensism", the concept of a defensive war, which Tsereteli argued was not being conducted at the time. Concerned that political fragmentation would lead to a civil war in Russia, Tsereteli strived to broker compromises between the various leftist factions in the Russian Revolution and was the force behind efforts to work together with the middle classes, to no avail. Renowned for his speaking ability, Tsereteli gained appreciation for his ability in this regard, giving impassioned speeches in the Duma and in the Petrograd Soviet. An avowed internationalist, Tsereteli grew increasingly distant from the Georgian Mensheviks who gradually adopted more nationalist tendencies. Uninterested in acquiring or maintaining political power, Tsereteli was much more concerned with inequality, and tried to solve that above all.Ispolkom
The Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, commonly known as the Ispolkom (Russian: исполком, исполнительный комитет, literally "executive committee") was a self-appointed executive committee of the Petrograd Soviet. As an antagonist of the Russian Provisional Government, after the 1917 February Revolution in Russia, Ispolkom became a second center of power. It was dissolved during the Bolshevik October Revolution later that year. Ispolkom is known for the controversial "Order No 1" (and 3) which stipulated that all military units should form committees like the Petrograd Soviet and that the military from every political perspective should not contradict to Ispolkom. The socialists at the Petrograd Soviet feared that officers were the most likely counter revolutionary elements and the intention of the Order was to limit their power, but these orders rendered the officers powerless at the Russian front lines of World War I, which had led to confusion, disastrous military discipline, and desertions.Kornilov affair
The Kornilov affair, or the Kornilov putsch, was an attempted military coup d'état by the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army, General Lavr Kornilov, from September 10 to 13 1917 (August 27–30 old style) against the Russian Provisional Government headed by Aleksander Kerensky and the Petrograd Soviet of Soldiers' and Workers' Deputies. The exact details and motivations of the Kornilov affair are unconfirmed due to the general confusion of all parties involved. Many historians have pieced together varied historical accounts as a result.Military Revolutionary Committee
The Military Revolutionary Committee (Russian: Военно-революционный комитет, Voyennо-revolyutsionny komitet), was the name for military organs created by the Bolsheviks under the soviets in preparation for the October Revolution (October 1917 – March 1918). The committees were powerful directing bodies of revolt, installing and securing the Soviet power. They executed a role of provisional extraordinary organs of Proletariat power.
The most notable ones were those of the Petrograd Soviet, the Moscow Soviet, and at Stavka. The Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee was created on 29 October [O.S. 16 October] 1917.Nina Veselova
Nina Leonidovna Veselova (Russian: Ни́на Леони́довна Весело́ва; January 6, 1922, Petrograd, Soviet Russia – March 3, 1960, Leningrad, USSR) was a Russian Soviet realist painter and graphic artist, Doctor of art-criticism (1954), who lived and worked in Leningrad. She was a member of the Leningrad Union of Artists and regarded as one of the brightest representatives of the Leningrad school of painting.Pavel Lazimir
Pavel Evgen'evich Lazimir (25 June 1891 in Novy Peterhof – 17 May 1920 Kremenchuk) was a prominent Left Socialist-Revolutionary who headed a soldier section of the Petrograd Soviet and was chairman of the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee during the October Revolution. Prior to being elected to the Petrograd Soviet, he served as a feldsher (physician assistant) at the Petrograd military hospital.
He died of typhus in 1920.Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee
The Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee (Russian: Петроградский военно-революционный комитет) was a militant group of the Petrograd Soviet and one of several military revolutionary committees that were created in the Russian Republic. Initially the committee was created on 25 October 1917 after the German army secured the city of Riga and the West Estonian Archipelago (see Operation Albion). The committee's resolution was adopted by the Petrograd Soviet on October 29, 1917.
From October 29 – November 11, 1917 it was a body of the Petrograd Soviet, later the All Russian Central Executive Committee. From November 8, 1917 to December 18, 1917 the committee was the highest extraordinary body of state power. All its activities were conducted under the supervision of the Central Committee of the RSDLP(b) and Lenin, who was a member, personally. Its members were Joseph Stalin, Felix Dzerzhinsky, Yakov Sverdlov, Andrei Bubnov, Moisei Uritsky, and Pavel Lazimir who was its chairman.Petrograd Soviet Order No. 1
Soviet Order Number 1 was issued March 14, 1917 and was the first official decree of The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. The order was issued following the February Revolution in response to actions taken the day before by the Provisional Committee of the State Duma, headed by Mikhail Vladimirovich Rodzianko. On February 28, the Provisional Committee, acting as a government following the disintegration of Tsarist authority in Petrograd and fearing that the soldiers who had gone over to the revolution on February 26–27 (O.S.) without their officers (who had generally fled) constituted a potentially uncontrollable mob that might threaten the Duma, issued an order through the Military Commission of the Duma calling on the soldiers to return to their barracks and to obey their officers. The soldiers were skeptical of this order; for one thing, they saw Rodzianko as too close to the Tsar (he had been Chairman of the Fourth Duma, which was seen as quite supportive of the Tsar). Some soldiers perhaps feared that in sending them back to their barracks, he was attempting to quash the Revolution, though most were concerned that in being sent back to the barracks they would be placed under their old commanders whose heavy-handedness had led them to mutiny on the 26th; thus their grievances would go unaddressed. In response, the Petrograd Soviet issued Order Number 1.The order instructed soldiers and sailors to obey their officers and the Provisional Government only if their orders did not contradict the decrees of the Petrograd Soviet. It also called on units to elect representatives to the Soviet and for each unit to elect a committee which would run the unit. All weapons were to be handed over to these committees "and shall by no means be issued to the officers, not even at their insistence." The order also allowed soldiers to dispense with standing to attention and saluting when off duty, although while on duty strict military discipline was to be maintained. Officers were no longer to be addressed as "Your Excellency" but rather as "Sir" ("Gospodin", in Russian). Soldiers of all ranks were to be addressed formally (with "vy" instead of "ty").There is a widespread belief that Order Number 1 infamously allowed for the election of officers, thus completely undermining military discipline. The order, however, actually makes no provision for the election of officers. The elections spoken of in the order itself are for representatives to the Petrograd Soviet. The discrepancy is explained by the fact that a proclamation was issued by the Russian Socialist Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP - essentially the Communists, divided between the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks) and the Petrograd Committee of Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) at about the same time calling on "Comrade Soldiers" to "elect for yourself platoon, company and regimental commanders." Part of the debate leading up to Order Number 1 included talk of "sorting out" unfriendly (pro-Tsarist or anti-revolutionary) officers and excluding them from units. This may have been taken as a call for the election of officers. However, while unsympathetic, untrustworthy, or undesirable officers were blacklisted and forced out of their units, the actual election of officers did not take place.Provisional Committee of the State Duma
Provisional Committee of the State Duma (Russian: Временный Комитет Государственной Думы) was a special government body established on March 12, 1917 (27 February O.S.) by the Fourth State Duma deputies at the outbreak of the Russian February Revolution.
The Committee declared itself the governing body of Russian Empire, but de facto competed for power with the Petrograd Soviet, which was created on the same day. The Government of Golitzine as the Council of Ministers of Russian Empire retreated to the Admiralty building. The Committee of the State Duma appointed 24 commissars to head various state ministries replacing the Imperial Government. According to Milyukov Chkheidze never participated in the work of the Committee.
On March 15 (March 2 O.S.) the Committee and the Petrograd Soviet agreed to create the Provisional Government. Many members of the Committee went on to serve in the Provisional Government, while the Committee continued to play an insignificant role until the Fourth Duma was dissolved on September 19 (September 6 O.S.).Russian Army (1917)
In 1917, the Russian Army formally ceased to be the Imperial Russian Army when the power in Russia was transferred from the Empire to the Provisional Government.
After the February Revolution the systems of command and of supply of the army were disrupted. The army became tired of World War I.
The revolutionary wave influenced the Army, and it was swept with the processes of democratization and the single line of command was questioned. The Order No. 1 issued by the Petrograd Soviet instructed soldiers and sailors to obey their officers and the Provisional Government only if their orders did not contradict the decrees of the Petrograd Soviet. The interpretation of the Order, both at the time and by the historians has been a matter of controversy. While many scholars agree that the order severely disrupted the army discipline, John Boyd argued that in fact, the order's intention was to restore the discipline and it clearly stated that it was to be applied only to the troops off the front lines. While the order did not call for the democratic election of the officers, it has been a widespread misinterpretation.Russian Provisional Government
The Russian Provisional Government (Russian: Временное правительство России, tr. Vremennoye pravitel'stvo Rossii) was a provisional government of Russia established immediately following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II of the Russian Empire on 2 March [15 March, New Style] 1917. The intention of the provisional government was the organization of elections to the Russian Constituent Assembly and its convention. The provisional government lasted approximately eight months, and ceased to exist when the Bolsheviks gained power after the October Revolution in October [November, N.S.] 1917. According to Harold Whitmore Williams the history of eight months during which Russia was ruled by the Provisional Government was the history of the steady and systematic disorganisation of the army.For most of the life of the Provisional Government, the status of the monarchy was unresolved. This was finally clarified on 1 September [14 September, N.S.], when the Russian Republic was proclaimed, in a decree signed by Kerensky as Minister-President and Zarudny as Minister of Justice.Russian Republic
The Russian Republic (Russian: Российская республика, tr. Rossiyskaya respublika, IPA: [rɐˈsʲijskəjə rʲɪsˈpublʲɪkə]) was a short-lived state which controlled, de jure, the territory of the former Russian Empire after its proclamation by the Russian Provisional Government on 1 September (14 September, N.S.) 1917 in a decree signed by Alexander Kerensky as Minister-President and Alexander Zarudny as Minister of Justice.Less than six weeks later, the Republic was overtaken by the October Revolution beginning on 25 October (7 November, N.S.) and the establishment of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR).Officially, the Republic's government was the Provisional Government, although de facto control of the country and its armed forces was divided between the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet.
The term Russian Republic is sometimes used erroneously for the period between the abdication of the Emperor Nicholas II on 2 March 1917 (15 March, N.S) and the declaration of the Republic in September. However, during that period the future status of the monarchy remained to be resolved.Russian Revolution
The Russian Revolution was a pair of revolutions in Russia in 1917 which dismantled the Tsarist autocracy and led to the rise of the Soviet Union. The Russian Empire collapsed with the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II and the old regime was replaced by a provisional government during the first revolution of February 1917 (March in the Gregorian calendar; the older Julian calendar was in use in Russia at the time). Alongside it arose grassroots community assemblies (called 'Soviets') which contended for authority. In the second revolution that October, the Provisional Government was toppled and all power was given to the Soviets.
The February Revolution (March 1917) was a revolution focused around Petrograd (now Saint Petersburg), the capital of Russia at that time. In the chaos, members of the Imperial parliament (the Duma) assumed control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government which was heavily dominated by the interests of large capitalists and the noble aristocracy. The army leadership felt they did not have the means to suppress the revolution, resulting in Tsar Nicholas's abdication. The Soviets, which were dominated by soldiers and the urban industrial working class, initially permitted the Provisional Government to rule, but insisted on a prerogative to influence the government and control various militias. The February Revolution took place in the context of heavy military setbacks during the First World War (1914–18), which left much of the Russian Army in a state of mutiny.
A period of dual power ensued, during which the Provisional Government held state power while the national network of Soviets, led by socialists, had the allegiance of the lower classes and, increasingly, the left-leaning urban middle class. During this chaotic period there were frequent mutinies, protests and many strikes. Many socialist political organizations were engaged in daily struggle and vied for influence within the Duma and the Soviets, central among which were the Bolsheviks ("Ones of the Majority") led by Vladimir Lenin who campaigned for an immediate end to the war, land to the peasants, and bread to the workers. When the Provisional Government chose to continue fighting the war with Germany, the Bolsheviks and other socialist factions were able to exploit virtually universal disdain towards the war effort as justification to advance the revolution further. The Bolsheviks turned workers' militias under their control into the Red Guards (later the Red Army) over which they exerted substantial control.In the October Revolution (November in the Gregorian calendar), the Bolsheviks led an armed insurrection by workers and soldiers in Petrograd that successfully overthrew the Provisional Government, transferring all its authority to the Soviets with the capital being relocated to Moscow shortly thereafter. The Bolsheviks had secured a strong base of support within the Soviets and, as the now supreme governing party, established a federal government dedicated to reorganizing the former empire into the world's first socialist republic, practicing Soviet democracy on a national and international scale. The promise to end Russia's participation in the First World War was honored promptly with the Bolshevik leaders signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany in March 1918. To further secure the new state, the Cheka was established which functioned as a revolutionary security service that sought to weed out and punish those considered to be "enemies of the people" in campaigns consciously modeled on similar events during the French Revolution.
Soon after, civil war erupted among the "Reds" (Bolsheviks), the "Whites" (counter-revolutionaries), the independence movements and the non-Bolshevik socialists. It continued for several years, during which the Bolsheviks defeated both the Whites and all rival socialists and thereafter reconstituted themselves as the Communist Party. In this way, the Revolution paved the way for the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922. While many notable historical events occurred in Moscow and Petrograd, there was also a visible movement in cities throughout the state, among national minorities throughout the empire and in the rural areas, where peasants took over and redistributed land.