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.[1][2] 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.[3]

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.[4]

Coordinates: 59°56′27″N 30°18′47″E / 59.9408°N 30.313°E

Lvov Government
Flag of Russia.svg
9th cabinet of Russia
First Provisional
Date formed2 March [15 March, N.S.] 1917
Date dissolvedJuly 1917
People and organisations
Head of stateAlexis II (unproclaimed)

Michael II (conditionally)

Georgy Lvov (de facto)
Head of governmentGeorgy Lvov
Member partyProgressive Bloc
Status in legislatureCoalition
Opposition cabinetExecutive Committee of Petrograd Soviet
Opposition partySocialist coalition
Opposition leaderNikolay Chkheidze
History
Incoming formationGolitsyn
Outgoing formationKerensky I
PredecessorNikolay Golitsyn
SuccessorAlexander Kerensky

Overview

The Provisional Government was formed in Petrograd in 1917 by the Provisional Committee of the State Duma. The State Duma was the more representative chamber out of the two in the Russian parliament established after the Revolution of 1905, and was led first in the new post-Czarist era by Prince Georgy Lvov (1861-1925) and then by Alexander Kerensky (1881-1970). It replaced the Imperial institution of the Council of Ministers of Russia, members of which after the February Revolution presided in the Chief Office of Admiralty. At the same time, the last ruling Russian Emperor Nicholas II (1868-1918) abdicated in February 1917 in favor of his youngest brother, the Grand Duke Michael (1878-1918) who agreed that he would accept after the decision of the Russian Constituent Assembly. The Provisional Government was unable to make decisive policy decisions due to political factionalism and a breakdown of state structures.[5] This weakness left the government open to strong challenges from both the right and the left. The Provisional Government's chief adversary on the left was the Petrograd Soviet, a Communist committee then taking over and ruling Russia's most important port city, which tentatively cooperated with the government at first, but then gradually gained control of the Imperial Army, local factories, and the Russian Railway.[6] The period of competition for authority ended in late October 1917, when Bolsheviks routed the ministers of the Provisional Government in the events known as the "October Revolution", and placed power in the hands of the soviets, or "workers' councils," which had given their support to the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) and Leon Trotsky (1879-1940). The weakness of the Provisional Government is perhaps best reflected in the derisive nickname given to Kerensky: "persuader-in-chief."[7]

World recognition

country date
 United States 22 March 1917
 United Kingdom 24 March 1917
 France
 Italy

Formation

Governo provvisorio russo marzo 1917
Russian Provisional Government in March 1917

The authority of the Tsar's government began disintegrating on 1 November 1916, when Milyukov attacked the Boris Stürmer government in the Duma. Stürmer was succeeded by Alexander Trepov and Nikolai Golitsyn, both Prime Ministers for only a few weeks. During the February Revolution two rival institutions, the imperial State Duma and the Petrograd Soviet, both located in the Tauride Palace, competed for power. Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918) abdicated on 2 March [15 March, N.S.], and Milyukov announced the committee's decision to offer the Regency to his brother, Grand Duke Michael, as the next tsar.[8] Grand Duke Michael did not want to take the poisoned chalice[9] and deferred acceptance of imperial power the next day. The Provisional Government was designed to set up elections to the Assembly while maintaining essential government services, but its power was effectively limited by the Petrograd Soviet's growing authority.

Public announcement of the formation of the Provisional Government was made. It was published in Izvestia the day after its formation.[10] The announcement stated the declaration of government

  • Full and immediate amnesty on all issues political and religious, including: terrorist acts, military uprisings, and agrarian crimes etc.
  • Freedom of word, press, unions, assemblies, and strikes with spread of political freedoms to military servicemen within the restrictions allowed by military-technical conditions.
  • Abolition of all hereditary, religious, and national class restrictions.
  • Immediate preparations for the convocation on basis of universal, equal, secret, and direct vote for the Constituent Assembly which will determine the form of government and the constitution.
  • Replacement of the police with a public militsiya and its elected chairmanship subordinated to the local authorities.
  • Elections to the authorities of local self-government on basis of universal, direct, equal, and secret vote.
  • Non-disarmament and non-withdrawal out of Petrograd the military units participating in the revolution movement.
  • Under preservation of strict discipline in ranks and performing a military service - elimination of all restrictions for soldiers in the use of public rights granted to all other citizens.

It also said, "The provisional government feels obliged to add that it is not intended to take advantage of military circumstances for any delay in implementing the above reforms and measures."

Initial composition

Initial composition of the Provisional Government:

Post Name Party Time of appointment
Minister-President and Minister of the Interior Georgy Lvov March 1917
Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavel Milyukov Kadet March 1917
Mikhail Tereshchenko Non-Party April 1917
Minister of War and Navy Alexander Guchkov Octobrist March 1917
Alexander Kerensky Socialist-Revolutionary Party April 1917
Minister of Transport Nikolai Nekrasov Kadet March 1917
Minister of Trade and Industry Aleksandr Konovalov Progressist March 1917
Minister of Justice Alexander Kerensky Socialist-Revolutionary Party March 1917
Pavel Pereverzev Socialist-Revolutionary Party April 1917
Minister of Finance Mikhail Tereshchenko Non-Party March 1917
Andrei Shingarev Kadet April 1917
Minister of Education Andrei Manuilov Kadet March 1917
Minister of Agriculture Andrei Shingarev Kadet March 1917
Victor Chernov Socialist-Revolutionary Party April 1917
Minister of Labour Matvey Skobelev Menshevik April 1917
Minister of Food Alexey Peshekhonov Popular Socialists (Russia) April 1917
Minister of Post and Telegraph Irakli Tsereteli Menshevik April 1917
Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod Vladimir Lvov Progressist March 1917

April Crisis

On 18 April [1 May, N.S.] 1917 minister of Foreign Affairs Pavel Milyukov sent a note to the Allied governments, promising to continue the war to 'its glorious conclusion'. On 20–21 April 1917 massive demonstrations of workers and soldiers erupted against the continuation of war. Demonstrations demanded resignation of Milyukov. They were soon met by the counter-demonstrations organised in his support. General Lavr Kornilov, commander of the Petrograd military district, wished to suppress the disorders, but premier Georgy Lvov refused to resort to violence.

The Provisional Government accepted the resignation of Foreign Minister Milyukov and War Minister Guchkov, and made a proposal to the Petrograd Soviet to form a coalition government. As a result of negotiations, on 22 April 1917 agreement was reached and 6 socialist ministers joined the cabinet.

During this period the Provisional Government merely reflected the will of the Soviet, where left tendencies (Bolshevism) were gaining ground. The Government, however, influenced by the "bourgeois" ministers, tried to base itself on the right wing of the Soviet. Socialist ministers, coming under fire from their left wing Soviet associates, were compelled to pursue a double-faced policy. The Provisional Government was unable to make decisive policy decisions due to political factionalism and a breakdown of state structures.[5]

July crisis and second coalition government

Kerensky First Government
Flag of Russia.svg
10th cabinet of Russia
Второе коалиционное Временное правительство России
Date formedJuly 1917 (see July Days)
Date dissolved1 September 1917
People and organisations
Head of stateGrand Duke Michael (conditionally)
Alexander Kerensky (de facto)
Head of governmentAlexander Kerensky
Member partySocialist-Revolutionaries
Status in legislatureCoalition
Opposition cabinetExecutive Committee of Petrograd Soviet
Opposition partyRSDLP
Opposition leaderNikolay Chkheidze / Leon Trotsky
History
Incoming formationLvov
Outgoing formationKerensky II
PredecessorGeorgy Lvov
SuccessorAlexander Kerensky

The July Days took place in Petrograd between 3–7 July [16–20 July, N.S.] 1917, when soldiers and industrial workers in the city took to the streets in opposition to the Provisional Government. After the rising was put down, the Bolsheviks were blamed for it, and their leader Vladimir Lenin went into hiding, while other leaders were arrested.[11]

The result of the events was new protracted crisis in the Provisional Government. "Bourgeois" ministers, belonging to the Constitutional Democratic Party resigned, and no cabinet could be formed to the end of the month. Finally, on 24 July [6 August, N.S.] 1917, a new coalition cabinet, composed mostly of socialists, was formed with Kerensky at its head.

Second coalition:

Post Name Party
Minister-President and Minister of War and Navy Alexander Kerensky Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Vice-President, Minister of Finance Nikolai Nekrasov
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Tereshchenko Non-party
Minister of Internal Affairs Nikolai Avksentiev Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Minister of Transport Piotr Yurenev Kadet
Minister of the Interior Irakli Tsereteli Menshevik
Minister of Trade and Industry Sergei Prokopovich Non-party
Minister of Justice Alexander Zarudny Popular Socialists (Russia)
Minister of Education Sergey Oldenburg Kadet
Minister of Agriculture Victor Chernov Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Minister of Labour Matvey Skobelev Menshevik
Minister of Food Alexey Peshekhonov Popular Socialists (Russia)
Minister of Health Care Ivan Efremov Progressive Party (Russia)
Minister of Post and Telegraph Alexei Nikitin Menshevik
Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod Vladimir Lvov Progressist

Third coalition

THIRD PROVISIONAL CABINET OF RUSSIA
Third Russian Provisional Government

From 25 September [8 October, N.S.] 1917.

Post Name Party
Minister-President Alexander Kerensky Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Vice-President, Minister of Trade and Industry Aleksandr Konovalov Kadets
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Tereshchenko Non-party
Minister of Internal Affairs, Post and Telegraph Alexei Nikitin Menshevik
Minister of War Alexander Verkhovsky
Minister of Navy Dmitry Verderevsky
Minister of Finance Mikhail Bernatsky
Minister of Justice Pavel Malyantovitch Menshevik
Minister of Transport Alexander Liverovsky Non-party
Minister of Education Sergei Salazkin Non-party
Minister of Agriculture Semen Maslov Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Minister of Labour Kuzma Gvozdev Menshevik
Minister of Food Sergei Prokopovich Non-party
Minister of Health Care Nikolai Kishkin Kadet
Minister of Post and Telegraph Alexei Nikitin Menshevik
Minister of Religion Anton Kartashev Kadet

Legislative policies and problems

1917-VremennoePravitelstvo-Seal
Government Seal

With the 1917 February Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II’s abdication, and the formation of a completely new Russian state, Russia’s political spectrum dramatically altered. The tsarist leadership represented an authoritarian, conservative form of governance. The Kadet Party (see Constitutional Democratic Party), composed mostly of liberal intellectuals, formed the greatest opposition to the tsarist regime leading up to the February Revolution. The Kadets transformed from an opposition force into a role of established leadership, as the former opposition party held most of the power in the new Provisional Government, which replaced the tsarist regime. The February Revolution was also accompanied by further politicization of the masses. Politicization of working people led to the leftward shift of the political spectrum.

Many urban workers originally supported the socialist Menshevik Party (see Menshevik), while some, though a small minority in February, favored the more radical Bolshevik Party (see Bolshevik). The Mensheviks often supported the actions of the Provisional Government and believed that the existence of such a government was a necessary step to achieve Communism. On the other hand, the Bolsheviks violently opposed the Provisional Government and desired a more rapid transition to Communism. In the countryside, political ideology also shifted leftward, with many peasants supporting the Socialist Revolutionary Party (see Socialist-Revolutionary Party). The SRs advocated a form of agrarian socialism and land policy that the peasantry overwhelmingly supported. For the most part, urban workers supported the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks (with greater numbers supporting the Bolsheviks as 1917 progressed), while the peasants supported the Socialist Revolutionaries. The rapid development and popularity of these leftist parties turned moderate-liberal parties, such as the Kadets, into "new conservatives." The Provisional Government was mostly composed of "new conservatives," and the new government faced tremendous opposition from the left.

Opposition was most obvious with the development and dominance of the Petrograd Soviet, which represented the socialist views of leftist parties. A dual power structure quickly arose consisting of the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet. While the Provisional Government retained the formal authority to rule over Russia, the Petrograd Soviet maintained actual power. With its control over the army and the railroads, the Petrograd Soviet had the means to enforce policies.[12] The Provisional Government lacked the ability to administer its policies. In fact, local soviets, political organizations mostly of socialists, often maintained discretion when deciding whether or not to implement the Provisional Government’s laws.

Despite its short reign of power and implementation shortcomings, the Provisional Government passed very progressive legislation. The policies enacted by this moderate government (by 1917 Russian standards) represented arguably the most liberal legislation in Europe at the time. The independence of Church from state, the emphasis on rural self governance, and the affirmation of fundamental civil rights (such as freedom of speech, press, and assembly) that the tsarist government had periodically restricted shows the progressivism of the Provisional Government. Other policies included the abolition of capital punishment and economic redistribution in the countryside. The Provisional Government also granted more freedoms to previously suppressed regions of the Russian Empire. Poland was granted independence and Lithuania and Ukraine became more autonomous.[13]

The main obstacle and problem of the Provisional Government was its inability to enforce and administer legislative policies. Foreign policy was the one area in which the Provisional Government was able to exercise its discretion to a great extent. However, the continuation of aggressive foreign policy (for example, the Kerensky Offensive) increased opposition to the government. Domestically, the Provisional Government’s weaknesses were blatant. The dual power structure was in fact dominated by one side, the Petrograd Soviet. Minister of War Alexander Guchkov stated that "We (the Provisional Government) do not have authority, but only the appearance of authority; the real power lies with the Soviet".[14] Severe limitations existed on the Provisional Government's ability to rule.

While it was true that the Provisional Government lacked enforcement ability, prominent members within the Government encouraged bottom-up rule. Politicians such as Prime Minister Georgy Lvov favored devolution of power to decentralized organizations. The Provisional Government did not desire the complete decentralization of power, but certain members definitely advocated more political participation by the masses in the form of grassroots mobilization.

Democratization

The rise of local organizations, such as trade unions and rural institutions, and the devolution of power within Russian government gave rise to democratization. It is difficult to say that the Provisional Government desired the rise of these powerful, local institutions. As stated in the previous section, some politicians within the Provisional Government advocated the rise of these institutions. Local government bodies had discretionary authority when deciding which Provisional Government laws to implement. For example, institutions that held power in rural areas were quick to implement national laws regarding the peasantry’s use of idle land. Real enforcement power was in the hands of these local institutions and the soviets. Russian historian W.E. Mosse points out, this time period represented "the only time in modern Russian history when the Russian people were able to play a significant part in the shaping of their destinies".[15] While this quote romanticizes Russian society under the Provisional Government, the quote nonetheless shows that important democratic institutions were prominent in 1917 Russia.

Special interest groups also developed throughout 1917. Special interest groups play a large role in every society deemed "democratic" today, and such was the case of Russia in 1917. Many on the far left would argue that the presence of special interest groups represent a form of bourgeois democracy, in which the interests of an elite few are represented to a greater extent than the working masses. The rise of special interest organizations gave people the means to mobilize and play a role in the democratic process. While groups such as trade unions formed to represent the needs of the working classes, professional organizations were also prominent.[16] Professional organizations quickly developed a political side to represent member’s interests. The political involvement of these groups represents a form of democratic participation as the government listened to such groups when formulating policy. Such interest groups played a negligible role in politics before February 1917 and after October 1917.

While professional special interest groups were on the rise, so too were worker organizations, especially in the cities. Beyond the formation of trade unions, factory committees of workers rapidly developed on the plant level of industrial centers. The factory committees represented the most radical viewpoints of the time period. The Bolsheviks gained their popularity within these institutions. Nonetheless, these committees represented the most democratic element of 1917 Russia. However, this form of democracy differed from and went beyond the political democracy advocated by the liberal intellectual elites and moderate socialists of the Provisional Government. Workers established economic democracy, as employees gained managerial power and direct control over their workplace. Worker self-management became a common practice throughout industrial enterprises.[17] As workers became more militant and gained more economic power, they supported the radical Bolshevik party and lifted the Bolsheviks into power in October, 1917.

Kornilov affair and declaration of Republic

The Kornilov affair was an attempted military coup d'état by the then commander-in-chief of the Russian army, General Lavr Kornilov, in September 1917[18] (August old style). Due to the extreme weakness of the government at this point, there was talk among the elites of bolstering its power by including Kornilov as a military dictator on the side of Kerensky. The extent to which this deal had indeed been accepted by all parties is still unclear. What is clear, however, is that when Kornilov's troops approached Petrograd, Kerensky branded them as counter-revolutionaries and demanded their arrest. This move can be seen as an attempt to bolster his own power by making him a defender of the revolution against a Napoleon-type figure. However, it had terrible consequences, as Kerensky's move was seen in the army as a betrayal of Kornilov, making them finally disloyal to the Provisional Government. Furthermore, as Kornilov's troops were arrested by the now armed Red Guard, it was the Soviet that was seen to have saved the country from military dictatorship. In order to defend himself and Petrograd, he provided the Bolsheviks with arms as he had little support from the army. When Kornilov did not attack Kerensky, the Bolsheviks did not return their weapons, making them a greater concern to Kerensky and the Provisional Government.

Thus far, the status of the monarchy had been unresolved. This was clarified on 1 September [14 September, N.S.], when the Russian Republic (Российская республика, Rossiyskaya respublika) was proclaimed, in a decree signed by Kerensky as Minister-President and Zarudny as Minister of Justice.[4]

The Decree read as follows:

The Coup of General Kornilov is suppressed. But the turmoil that he spread in the ranks of the army and in the country is great. Once again, a great danger threatens the fate of the country and its freedom. Considering it necessary to put an end to the uncertainty in the political system, and keeping in mind the unanimous and enthusiastic recognition of Republican ideas, which affected the Moscow State Conference, the Provisional Government announces that the state system of the Russian state is the republican system and proclaims the Russian Republic. Urgent need for immediate and decisive action to restore the shocked state system has prompted the Provisional Government to pass the power of government to five individuals from its staff, headed by the Prime Minister. The Provisional Government considers its main objective to be the restoration of public order and the fighting efficiency of the armed forces. Believing that only the concentration of all the surviving forces of the country can help the Motherland out of the difficulty in which it now finds itself, the Provisional Government will seek to expand its membership by attracting to its ranks all those who consider the eternal and general interests of the country more important than the short-term and particular needs of certain parties or classes. The Provisional Government has no doubt that it will succeed in this task in the days ahead.[4]

On 12 September [25, N.S] an All-Russian Democratic Conference was convened, and its presidium decided to create a Pre-Parliament and a Special Constituent Assembly, which was to elaborate the future Constitution of Russia. This Constitutional Assembly was to be chaired by Professor N. I. Lazarev and the historian V. M. Gessen.[4] The Provisional Government was expected to continue to administer Russia until the Constituent Assembly had determined the future form of government. On 16 September 1917, the Duma was dissolved by the newly created Directorate.

October Revolution

Milrevkom proclamation
Milrevcom proclamation about the overthrowing of the Provisional Government

On 24–26 October Red Guard forces under the leadership of Bolshevik commanders launched their final attack on the ineffectual Provisional Government. Most government offices were occupied and controlled by Bolshevik soldiers on the 25th; the last holdout of the Provisional Ministers, the Tsar's Winter Palace on the Neva River bank, was captured on the 26th. Kerensky escaped the Winter Palace raid and fled to Pskov, where he rallied some loyal troops for an attempt to retake the capital. His troops managed to capture Tsarskoe Selo but were beaten the next day at Pulkovo. Kerensky spent the next few weeks in hiding before fleeing the country. He went into exile in France and eventually emigrated to the U.S.

The Bolsheviks then replaced the government with their own. The Little Council (or Underground Provisional Government) met at the house of Sofia Panina briefly in an attempt to resist the Bolsheviks. However this initiative ended on 28 November with the arrest of Panina, Fyodor Kokoshkin, Andrei Ivanovich Shingarev and Prince Pavel Dolgorukov and Panina being the subject of a political trial.[19]

Some academics, such as Pavel Osinsky, argue that the October Revolution was as much a function of the failures of the Provisional Government as it was of the strength of the Bolsheviks. Osinsky described this as "socialism by default" as opposed to "socialism by design." [20]

Riasanovsky argued that the Provisional Government made perhaps its "worst mistake"[7] by not holding elections to the Constituent Assembly soon enough. They wasted time fine-tuning details of the election law, while Russia slipped further into anarchy and economic chaos. By the time the Assembly finally met, Riasanovsky noted, "the Bolsheviks had already gained control of Russia."[21]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Manifest of abdication (in Russian)
  2. ^ "Announcement of the First Provisional Government, 13 March 1917". FirstWorldWar.com. 2002-12-29. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
  3. ^ Harold Whitmore Williams (1919) The Spirit of the Russian Revolution, p. 14, 15. Russian Liberation Committee, no. 9, 173 Fleet Street. London
  4. ^ a b c d The Russian Republic Proclaimed at prlib.ru, accessed 12 June 2017
  5. ^ a b "Annotated chronology (notes)". University of Oregon/Alan Kimball. 2004-11-29. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
  6. ^ Kerensky, Alexander (1927). The Catastrophe— Kerensky’s Own Story of the Russian Revolu. D. Appleton and Company. p. 126. ISBN 0-527-49100-4.
  7. ^ a b Riasanovsky, Nicholas (2000). A History of Russia (sixth edition). Oxford University Press. p. 457. ISBN 0-19-512179-1.
  8. ^ Harold Whitmore Williams (1919), p. 3
  9. ^ M. Lynch, Reaction and Revolution: Russia 1894-1924 (3rd ed.), Hodder Murray, London 2005, pg. 79
  10. ^ "Announcement of the First Provisional Government, 3 March 1917". FirstWorldWar.com. 2002-12-29. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
  11. ^ Christopher Read (2005) Lenin. London, Routledge: 160-2
  12. ^ Rex A. Wade, The Russian Revolution, 1917 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 67
  13. ^ W. E. Mosse, "Interlude: The Russian Provisional Government 1917," Soviet Studies 15 (1964): 411-412
  14. ^ Wade, The Russian Revolution, 1917, 57
  15. ^ Mosse, "Interlude: The Russian Provisional Government 1917," 414
  16. ^ Matthew Rendle, "The Officer Corps, Professionalism, And Democracy In The Russian Revolution," 922
  17. ^ Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 54-55
  18. ^ "1917 Free History". Yandex Publishing. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  19. ^ Lindenmeyr, Adele (October 2001), "The First Soviet Political Trial: Countess Sofia Panina before the Petrograd Revolutionary Tribunal", The Russian Review, 60: 505–525, doi:10.1111/0036-0341.00188
  20. ^ Osinsky, Pavel. War, State Collapse, Redistribution: Russian Revolution Revisited, Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Montreal Convention Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada August 2006
  21. ^ Riasanovsky, Nicholas (2000). A History of Russia (sixth edition). Oxford University Press. p. 458. ISBN 0-19-512179-1.

Further reading

  • Abraham, Richard (1987). Kerensky: First Love of the Revolution. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-06108-0.
  • Acton, Edward, et al. eds. Critical companion to the Russian Revolution, 1914-1921 (Indiana UP, 1997).
  • Hickey, Michael C. "The Provisional Government and Local Administration in Smolensk in 1917." Journal of Modern Russian History and Historiography 9.1 (2016): 251-274.
  • Lipatova, Nadezhda V. "On the Verge of the Collapse of Empire: Images of Alexander Kerensky and Mikhail Gorbachev." Europe-Asia Studies 65.2 (2013): 264-289.
  • Orlovsky, Daniel. "Corporatism or democracy: the Russian Provisional Government of 1917." The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review 24.1 (1997): 15-25.
  • Thatcher, Ian D. "Post-Soviet Russian Historians and the Russian Provisional Government of 1917." Slavonic & East European Review 93.2 (2015): 315-337. online
  • Thatcher, Ian D. "Memoirs of the Russian Provisional Government 1917." Revolutionary Russia 27.1 (2014): 1-21.

Primary sources

  • Browder, Robert P. and Alexander F. Kerensky, eds. The Russian Provisional Government 1917 (3 vols, Stanford UP, 1961).
1917 in Russia

Events from the year 1917 in Russia

Alexander Guchkov

Alexander Ivanovich Guchkov (Russian: Алекса́ндр Ива́нович Гучко́в) (14 October 1862 – 14 February 1936) was a Russian politician, Chairman of the Third Duma and Minister of War in the Russian Provisional Government.

Alexander Kerensky

Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky (Russian: Алекса́ндр Фёдорович Ке́ренский, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr ˈkʲerʲɪnskʲɪj]; Original spelling: 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 Trudovik 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.

Directorate (Russia)

The Directorate (Kerensky Second Government) was the short-lived transitional government of Russia during the Russian Revolution. It consisted of five main ministers and lasted for about three weeks.

Georgy Lvov

Prince Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov (Russian: Гео́ргий Евге́ньевич Львов; 2 November 1861 – 7/8 March 1925) was a Russian statesman and the first post-imperial prime minister of Russia, from 15 March to 21 July 1917.

July Days

The July Days (Russian: Июльские дни) were a period of unrest in Petrograd, Russia, between 3–7 July 1917 (Julian calendar) (16–20 July in the Gregorian calendar). It was characterised by spontaneous armed demonstrates by soldiers, sailors, and industrial workers engaged against the Russian Provisional Government The demonstrations were angrier and more violent than those during the February Revolution months earlier.The Provisional Government blamed the Bolsheviks for the violence brought about by the July Days and in a subsequent crackdown on the Bolshevik Party, the party was dispersed, many of the leadership arrested. Vladimir Lenin fled to Finland, while Leon Trotsky was among those arrested.The outcome of the July Days represented a temporary decline in the growth of Bolshevik power and influence in the period before the October Revolution.

Kerensky Offensive

The Kerensky Offensive (Russian: Наступление Керенского), also commonly known as the July Offensive (Russian: Июльское наступление) or Galician Offensive, was the last Russian offensive in World War I. It took place in July 1917. It was decided by Alexander Kerensky, Minister of War in the Russian provisional government, and led by General Brusilov. Such a decision was ill-timed, because, following the February Revolution, there were strong popular demands for peace, especially within the Russian Army, whose fighting capabilities were quickly deteriorating.

Discipline within the Russian Army had reached a point of crisis since the Tsar's abdication. The Petrograd Soviet's "Order Number 1" tremendously weakened the power of officers, giving an over-riding mandate to "soldier committees". The abolition of the death penalty was another contributing factor, as was the high presence of revolutionary agitators at the front including Bolshevik agitators, who promoted a defeatist agenda (and whom Kerensky tolerated considerably more than conservative agitators). Riots and mutineering at the front became common, officers were often the victims of soldier harassment and even murder. Furthermore, the policy of the new government towards the war effort was one of fulfilling obligations towards Russia's allies, as opposed to fighting for the sake of total victory, thus giving soldiers a less credible motivation to fight.

However, Kerensky hoped that an important Russian victory would gain popular favour and restore the soldiers' morale, thus strengthening the weak provisional government and proving the effectiveness of "the most democratic army in the world", as he referred to it. Starting on July 1, 1917 the Russian troops attacked the Austro-Germans in Galicia, pushing toward Lviv. The operations involved the Russian 11th, 7th and 8th Armies and the Austro-German South Army (General von Bothmer) and the Austrian 7th and 3rd Armies. After an initial success, the offensive was halted because the Russian soldiers soon mutinied and refused to fight. It collapsed altogether by July 16. On the 18th the Austro-Germans counterattacked, meeting little resistance and advancing through Galicia and Ukraine until the Zbruch River. The Russian lines were broken on the 20th, and by the 23rd, the Russians had retreated about 240 kilometres (150 miles).

The Russian provisional government was greatly weakened by this military catastrophe, and the possibility of a Bolshevik coup d'état became increasingly real. Far from strengthening Russian army morale, this offensive proved that Russian army morale no longer existed. No Russian general could now count on the soldiers under his command actually doing what they were ordered to do. This offensive also helped the start of the July days. One last fight took place between the Germans and the Russians in this war. On September 1, 1917 the Germans attacked and captured Riga. The Russian soldiers defending the town refused to fight and fled from the advancing German troops.

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 10 to 13 September 1917 (27 to 30 August 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.

List of heads of government of Russia

Approximately 98 people have been head of the Russian government since its establishment in 1726. The chairman of government was a member of the Supreme Privy Council, which was created on 8 (19) February 1726 by Empress Catherine, and from 8 (20) September 1802 ministerial duties were allocated by the Committee of Ministers, which was established on in accordance with the proclamation of Emperor Alexander II. Beginning with Count Aleksandr Romanovich Vorontsov, the eldest of the officers was de facto chairman of the committee. Eight years after the inauguration of the manifest, the first de jure office holder was Count Nikolay Rumyantsev. The Council of Ministers was unofficially formed in October 1857, as a result of Emperor Alexander II's reforms; its first session began on 19 (31) December 1857. Before the actual formation of that body on 12 (24) November 1861, the Emperor himself was in charge. The Council of Ministers consisted of chairmen of the State Council and the Committee of Ministers, as well as high-ranking officers appointed by the Emperor. The first session ended on 11 (23) December 1882, after the number of files to the Council greatly decreased.The Committee of Ministers functioned simultaneously with the second session of the Council of Ministers for six more months; Count Sergei Witte participated on both entities until the abolition of the committee on 23 April (5 May) 1906. Following that event, the duties of the committee were left to the Council of Ministers, until the formation of the Small Council in 1909, which also included deputy ministers. By the order of Emperor Nicholas II, the second session of the Council of Ministers began on 19 October (1 November) 1905, following the formation of the State Duma. Shortly after the February Revolution and the inception of the Russian Provisional Government on 2 (15) March 1917, Georgy Lvov from the Constitutional Democratic Party and Alexander Kerensky from the Socialist Revolutionary Party became joint Minister-Chairmen. The provisional Russian Republic was eventually replaced by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) and the governmental body by the Council of People's Commissars, which was chaired from 1917–24 by Vladimir Lenin. That body was renamed Council of Ministers following a decree of the Supreme Council on 23 March 1946.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin, as the President of the Russian Federation, was automatically appointed as the Head of Government of the Russian Federation in the first two years of his mandate. The latter body took the previous name "Council of Ministers", the chairman of which became Viktor Chernomyrdin from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, replacing acting chairman Yegor Gaidar. According to the new constitution ratified on 25 December 1993, those two entities were separated. Since then, the head of that office takes the formal title "Chairmen of the Government" or colloquially "Prime Minister" (the only actual prime minister was Valentin Pavlov). Chernomyrdin resumed chairing the government, followed up by non-partisans and acting office holders. On 8 May 2008, Vladimir Putin took the office for a second term, now as a member of United Russia. Dmitry Medvedev has been the Chairman of the Government since 8 May 2012.The youngest head of government by his accession to office was Count Karl-Fridrikh Golshteyn-Gottorpsky, at age 26, and the oldest Count Pyotr Andreyevich Tolstoy, at age 81.

Malachite Room of the Winter Palace

The Malachite Room of the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, was designed in the late 1830s by the architect Alexander Briullov for use a formal reception room for the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, wife of Nicholas I. It replaced the Jasper Room, which was destroyed in the fire of 1837.The room obtains its name from the use of malachite for its columns and fireplace. This large salon contains a large malachite urn as well as furniture from the workshops of Peter Gambs (1802-1871), son of the famous furniture maker Heinrich Gambs, which were rescued from the 1837 fire.

During the Tsarist era, the Malachite Room, which links the state rooms to the private rooms, served as not only a state drawing room of the Tsaritsa, but also as a gathering place for the Imperial family before and during official functions. It was here that Romanov brides were traditionally dressed by the Tsarina before proceeding from the adjoining Arabian Hall to their weddings in the Grand Church.From June to October 1917 this room was the seat of the Russian Provisional Government. When the palace was stormed during the night of 7 November 1917, the members of the Government were arrested in the adjoining private dining room.Today, as part of the State Hermitage Museum, this room retains its original decoration.

Mikhail Alekseyev

Mikhail Vasilyevich Alekseyev (Russian: Михаил Васильевич Алексеев) (3 November 1857 – 8

October 1918) was an Imperial Russian Army general during World War I and the Russian Civil War. Between 1915 and 1917 he served as Tsar Nicholas II's Chief of Staff of the Stavka, and after the February Revolution, was its commander-in-chief under the Russian Provisional Government from March to May 1917. He later played a principal role in founding the Volunteer Army in the Russian Civil War and died in 1918 of heart failure while fighting the Bolsheviks in the Volga region.

Mikhail Tereshchenko

Mikhail Ivanovich Tereshchenko (Russian: Михаи́л Ива́нович Тере́щенко; Ukrainian: Михайло Іванович Терещенко) (18 March 1886, in Kiev – 1 April 1956, in Monaco) was the foreign minister of Russia from 18 May 1917 to 7 November 1917 (N.S.). He was also a major Ukrainian landowner, the proprietor of several sugar factories, and a financier.

Nikolai Kolomeitsev

Nikolai Nikolaevich Kolomeitsev, also spelt Kolomeytsev (Russian: Николай Николаевич Коломейцев) (16 July 1867 – 6 October 1944) was a naval officer of the Russian Empire and Arctic explorer.

Pavel Milyukov

Pavel Nikolayevich Milyukov (Russian: Па́вел Никола́евич Милюко́в, IPA: [mʲɪlʲʊˈkof]; 27 January [O.S. 15 January] 1859 – 31 March 1943) was a Russian historian and liberal politician. Milyukov was the founder, leader, and the most prominent member of the Constitutional Democratic party (known as the Kadets). In the Russian Provisional Government, he served as Foreign Minister, working to prevent Russia's exit from the First World War.

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 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.

Tauride Palace

Tauride Palace (Russian: Tavrichesky dvorets, Таврический дворец) is one of the largest and most historic palaces in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Viktor Chernov

Víktor Mikháilovich Chernóv (Russian: Ви́ктор Миха́йлович Черно́в; December 7, 1873 – April 15, 1952) was a Russian revolutionary and one of the founders of the Russian Socialist-Revolutionary Party. He was the primary party theoretician or the 'brain' of the party, and was more analyst than political leader. Following the February Revolution of 1917, Chernov was Minister for Agriculture in the Russian Provisional Government. Later on, he was Chairman of the Russian Constituent Assembly.

Women's Battalion

Women's Battalions were all-female combat units formed after the February Revolution by the Russian Provisional Government in a last-ditch effort to inspire the mass of war-weary soldiers to continue fighting in World War I.

In the spring of 1917, male shock-units and battalions of death were formed from pools of enthusiastic volunteers to lead the way in battle. Already some women had successfully petitioned to join regular military units, and now a number began pressing the new Provisional Government to create special women's battalions. These women, along with a number of high-ranking members of the Russian government and military administration, believed that female soldiers would have significant propaganda value and that their example would revitalize the weary, demoralized men of the Russian army. Simultaneously, they hoped the presence of women would shame hesitant male soldiers into resuming their combat duties.Fifteen formations were created in 1917, including the 1st Russian Women's Battalion of Death, a separate unit called the 1st Petrograd Women's Battalion formed a few weeks later in Petrograd, the 2nd Moscow Women's Battalion of Death created in Moscow, and the 3rd Kuban Women's Shock Battalion organized in Ekaterinodar. Four communications detachments were created in Moscow and Petrograd. Seven additional communications units were created in Kiev and Saratov, again employing privately organized women's units already existing in those cities. Additional unsanctioned battalions sprang in cities across Russia. An all-female naval unit was created in Oranienbaum, the 1st Women's Naval Detachment, as part of the Naval Infantry Training Detachment.

American reporter Bessie Beatty estimated the total number of women serving in these gender-segregated units at 5,000 in the fall of 1917, but only the 1st Russian Women's Battalion of Death and the Perm Battalion were deployed to the front.

Although some who had served in these units went on to fight on both sides of the Russian Civil War, women's battalions were never part of the White Army, Green Army, or Black Army, other Russian political groups fighting against the Bolsheviks.

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