Friday, 10 February 2012

The Russian Revolution begins

After the failed peace moves of December 1916, the Russian government trembled. The mystic Rasputin had been murdered by a group of noblemen, but the Tsarina continued to control the government and to appoint her favourites in place of men of ability.

The Grand Duke Alexander begged Tsar Nicholas to come back to the capital city Petrograd (now St Petersburg) to dismiss the incompetents in government and take control.

The Chairman of the Duma, or Parliament, Rodzyanko, wrote to the Tsar warning that if nothing was done to ease the conditions of workers in the industrial cities there would be serious trouble.

Tsar Nicholas refused to leave the command of his armies. However he sent General Khabalov with a force of 100,000 soldiers to impose martial law on the capital city.

On 7 March the workers in a few factories went on strike. Many of the striking men went to the large Nevsky Prospect open square carrying banners demanding more food at cheaper prices. Next day more factories went on strike.

On Sunday 11 March vast crowds, up to half a million strong, seethed through St Petersburg. Demonstrations took place in most other cities at the same time.

When Khabalov ordered his army to take to the streets, most refused. Some men shot their officers and went over to the side of the demonstrators. Even the most loyal cossacks refused to leave barracks, being too frightened of the vast crowds.

On 15 March, Tsar Nicholas at last came to Petrograd. His train was surrounded by crowds of workers before it reached the city. Nicholas abdicated the throne in favour of his popular brother Michael. Michael refused.

For the first time in its history, Russia did not have a monarch. The Duma elected a provisional government and gave it the task of drawing up a new constitution.

The first decision of the provisional government, led by Alexander Kerensky, was to continue the war.

from 100 FACTS ABOUT WORLD WAR I by rupert Matthews

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