Russian history – 1917 – dissent and the Feb revolution

The Tsar Nicholas II ruled with divine right, and had absolute power over the country.

The Duma was, therefore, weak and had little control over Russia.

The Provisional Government had two main weaknesses;

  1. It was unsure of its own legitimacy and authority
  2. It was not elected, and so believed that it could not make any long term policies, as this should be saved until a constituent assembly was elected


The continuation of the war, as decided by the Provisional Government brought major unrest to the proletariat in Russia.

Tsar – took control of the war, and so was attributed with the failure of war

Transport – the soldiers got first use of transport, this created a new level of strain on the public transport

Army – the soldiers lacked supplies, creating an air of incompetence, making them seem unprofessional

Rasputin – brought dissent to the Tsar dynasty, as he refused to wash, and was known for sleeping around

Inflation – led the collapse of the gold standard

Food – again, the soldiers got the biggest rations, creating a large strain on the rest of the cities food supplies


The unrest amounted to a series of revolutions throughout 1917, the first being the February revolution.

On the 18th February, the Putilov steel workers protested through a series of riots. And  on the 27th, the Petrograd soviet met for the first time. The revolution led to the abdication of the tsar.


Order number one was issued March 14th 1917, the bill took power from the Provisional Government by transferring it to the Petrograd Soviet, headed by Trotsky. Any decision made by the already restricted Provisional Government must be approved by the Petrograd Soviet first.

The Provisional Government was weakened further by the Kornilov affair, August 1917. General Kornilov, for several days, gathered troops to invade Petrograd and Moscow, claiming that in order to win the war they must first destroy the enemies within. However the Provisional Government did not trust him, and so let leading Bolshevik members out of prison, and armed them in order to protect the city. This enabled the Bolsheviks to portray themselves as powerful and strong characters who had successfully protected Petrograd.

This led to the start of the October revolution, 1917.


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