Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Russian Provisional Government

Russian Provisional Government

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Russian Provisional Government'
Start a new discussion about 'Russian Provisional Government'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Russian Provisional Government was the short-lived administrative body which sought to govern Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 immediately following the abdication
Abdication
Abdication occurs when a monarch, such as a king or emperor, renounces his office.-Terminology:The word abdication comes derives from the Latin abdicatio. meaning to disown or renounce...

 of Tsar Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

 (March 15, 1917). On September 14, the State Duma of the Russian Empire
State Duma of the Russian Empire
The State Duma of the Russian Empire was a legislative assembly in the late Russian Empire, which met in the Taurida Palace in St. Petersburg. It was convened four times between 1906 and the collapse of the Empire in 1917.-History:...

 was officially dissolved by the newly created Directorate
Directorate (Russia)
The Directorate was the short-lived transitional government of Russia during the Russian Revolution. It consisted of five main ministers and lasted for about three weeks.-Members:# Minister-President Alexander Kerensky...

, and the country was declared the Russian Republic
Russian Republic
The Russian Republic was a short-lived political entity occupying the territory of the former Russian Empire during the 1917 struggle for power that ended with the October Revolution and the establishment the Soviet regime...

. It is also sometimes known as the Kerensky Government after its most prominent leader. It lasted approximately eight months, and ceased to exist when the Bolsheviks took over after the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 (November 7, 1917).

The Provisional Government was formed in Petrograd and Ede, Holland, and was led first by Prince Georgy L'vov
Georgy L'vov
Prince Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov was a Russian statesman and the first post-imperial prime minister of Russia, from 15 March to 21 July 1917.-Pre-Revolution:...

 and then by socialist Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

, a prominent member of the Duma
State Duma of the Russian Empire
The State Duma of the Russian Empire was a legislative assembly in the late Russian Empire, which met in the Taurida Palace in St. Petersburg. It was convened four times between 1906 and the collapse of the Empire in 1917.-History:...

 and a leader of the movement to unseat the Tsar. Instead of ending Russia's involvement in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the new government launched a fresh offensive against the German and Austro-Hungarian armies in July 1917, thereby weakening its popularity among Russia's war-weary people. This Kerensky Offensive
Kerensky Offensive
The Kerensky Offensive was the last Russian offensive in World War I. It took place in July 1917.- Background :...

, as it was called, was a failure which further eroded support for the government. The Provisional Government was unable to make decisive policy decisions due to political factionalism and a breakdown of state structures. 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
Petrograd Soviet
The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies , usually called the Petrograd Soviet , was the soviet in Petrograd , Russia, established in March 1917 after the February Revolution as the representative body of the city's workers.The Petrograd Soviet became important during the Russian...

, which tentatively cooperated with the government at first, but then gradually gained control of the army, factories, and railways. 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
Soviet (council)
Soviet was a name used for several Russian political organizations. Examples include the Czar's Council of Ministers, which was called the “Soviet of Ministers”; a workers' local council in late Imperial Russia; and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union....

, or "workers' councils," which they largely controlled.

The weakness of the Provisional Government is perhaps best reflected in the derisive nickname given to Kerensky: "persuader-in-chief."

World recognition

  • United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     - March 22, 1917
  • France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

    , Great Britain
    Great Britain
    Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

    , and Italy
    Italy
    Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

     - March 24, 1917

Formation and initial composition



When the authority of the Tsar's government began disintegrating after the February Revolution of 1917, two rival institutions, the Duma
State Duma of the Russian Empire
The State Duma of the Russian Empire was a legislative assembly in the late Russian Empire, which met in the Taurida Palace in St. Petersburg. It was convened four times between 1906 and the collapse of the Empire in 1917.-History:...

 and the Petrograd Soviet
Petrograd Soviet
The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies , usually called the Petrograd Soviet , was the soviet in Petrograd , Russia, established in March 1917 after the February Revolution as the representative body of the city's workers.The Petrograd Soviet became important during the Russian...

, competed for power. Tsar Nicholas II abdicated on March 2 (Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

) and nominated his brother, Grand Duke Michael
Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia
Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia was the youngest son of Emperor Alexander III of Russia.At the time of his birth, his paternal grandfather was still the reigning Emperor of All the Russias. Michael was fourth-in-line to the throne following his father and elder brothers Nicholas and...

 as the next tsar. Grand Duke Michael did not want to take the poisoned chalice and deferred acceptance of imperial power the next day. Legal authorization for the transfer of power was given by a proclamation signed by Grand Duke Michael. The Provisional Government was expected to rule until the Constituent Assembly
Russian Constituent Assembly
The All Russian Constituent Assembly was a constitutional body convened in Russia after the October Revolution of 1917. It is generally reckoned as the first democratically elected legislative body of any kind in Russian history. It met for 13 hours, from 4 p.m...

 later determined the form of government in Russia. 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
Petrograd Soviet
The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies , usually called the Petrograd Soviet , was the soviet in Petrograd , Russia, established in March 1917 after the February Revolution as the representative body of the city's workers.The Petrograd Soviet became important during the Russian...

's growing authority.

Public announcement of the formation of the Provisional Government was made. It was published in Izvestia
Izvestia
Izvestia is a long-running high-circulation daily newspaper in Russia. The word "izvestiya" in Russian means "delivered messages", derived from the verb izveshchat . In the context of newspapers it is usually translated as "news" or "reports".-Origin:The newspaper began as the News of the...

the day after its formation.

Initial composition of the Provisional Government:
Post Name Party
Minister-President and Minister of the Interior Georgy Lvov 
Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavel Milyukov
Pavel Milyukov
Pavel Nikolayevich Milyukov , a Russian politician, was the founder, leader, and the most prominent member of the Constitutional Democratic party...

 
Kadet
Minister of War and Navy Alexander Guchkov
Alexander Guchkov
Alexander Ivanovich Guchkov was a Russian politician, Chairman of the Duma and Minister of War in the Russian Provisional Government.-Early years:...

 
Octobrist
Octobrist
The Octobrist Party was a non-revolutionary centrist Russian political party formally called Union of October 17 . The party's programme of moderate constitutionalism called for the fulfilment of Tsar Nicholas II's October Manifesto granted at the peak of the Russian Revolution of 1905...

Minister of Transport Nikolai Nekrasov
Nikolai Vissarionovich Nekrasov
Nikolai Vissarionovich Nekrasov was a Russian liberal politician and the last Governor-General of Finland.-Parliamentary career:...

 
Kadet
Minister of Trade and Industry Alexander Konovalov  Progressist
Progressist Party
The Progressist Party was a group of moderate Russian liberals organized in 1908; it had 28 deputies in the Third Duma and 48 in the Fourth. Its most prominent members were Ivan Nikolaevich Efremov, Alexander Konovalov, and Pavel Ryabushinsky...

Minister of Justice Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

 
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

Minister of Finance Mikhail Tereshchenko
Mikhail Tereshchenko
Mikhail Ivanovich Tereshchenko was the foreign minister of Russia from 5 May 1917 to 25 October 1917...

 
Non-Party
Minister of Education Andrei Manuilov
Andrei Manuilov
Alexander Appolonovich Manuilov was a Russian economist and politician. He was one of the founding members of the Constitutional Democratic party and was the Rector of Moscow State University between 1908 and 1911....

 
Kadet
Minister of Agriculture Andrei Shingarev
Andrei Ivanovich Shingarev
Andrei Ivanovich Shingarev or Shingaryov was a Russian doctor, publicist and politician. He was a Duma deputy and one of the leaders of the Constitutional Democratic party ....

 
Kadet
Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod  Vladimir Lvov Progressist
Progressist Party
The Progressist Party was a group of moderate Russian liberals organized in 1908; it had 28 deputies in the Third Duma and 48 in the Fourth. Its most prominent members were Ivan Nikolaevich Efremov, Alexander Konovalov, and Pavel Ryabushinsky...


April crisis and first coalition government


On April 18 (May 1) minister of Foreign Affairs Pavel Milyukov
Pavel Milyukov
Pavel Nikolayevich Milyukov , a Russian politician, was the founder, leader, and the most prominent member of the Constitutional Democratic party...

 sent a note to the Allied governments, promising to continue the war to 'its glorious conclusion'. On April 20 and 21 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
Lavr Kornilov
Lavr Georgiyevich Kornilov was a military intelligence officer, explorer, and general in the Imperial Russian Army during World War I and the ensuing Russian Civil War...

, 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 May 5 (18) agreement was reached and 6 socialist ministers joined the cabinet.

Composition of the first coalition government:
Post Name Party
Minister-President and Minister of the Interior Georgy Lvov 
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Tereshchenko
Mikhail Tereshchenko
Mikhail Ivanovich Tereshchenko was the foreign minister of Russia from 5 May 1917 to 25 October 1917...

 
Non-party
Minister of War and Navy Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

 
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

Minister of Transport Nikolai Nekrasov
Nikolai Vissarionovich Nekrasov
Nikolai Vissarionovich Nekrasov was a Russian liberal politician and the last Governor-General of Finland.-Parliamentary career:...

 
Kadet
Minister of Trade and Industry Alexander Konovalov  Progressist
Progressist Party
The Progressist Party was a group of moderate Russian liberals organized in 1908; it had 28 deputies in the Third Duma and 48 in the Fourth. Its most prominent members were Ivan Nikolaevich Efremov, Alexander Konovalov, and Pavel Ryabushinsky...

Minister of Justice Pavel Pereverzev Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

Minister of Finance Andrei Shingarev
Andrei Ivanovich Shingarev
Andrei Ivanovich Shingarev or Shingaryov was a Russian doctor, publicist and politician. He was a Duma deputy and one of the leaders of the Constitutional Democratic party ....

 
Kadet
Minister of Education Andrei Manuilov
Andrei Manuilov
Alexander Appolonovich Manuilov was a Russian economist and politician. He was one of the founding members of the Constitutional Democratic party and was the Rector of Moscow State University between 1908 and 1911....

 
Kadet
Minister of Agriculture Victor Chernov  Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

Minister of Labour Matvey Skobelev
Matvey Skobelev
-Trotsky's Disciple in Vienna :Skobelev was born in the family of a wealthy Baku oilman . He joined the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party in 1903. After the Russian Revolution of 1905 he went abroad to study at a polytechnic in Vienna...

 
Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

Minister of Food Alexey Peshekhonov
Alexey Peshekhonov
Alexey Vasilyevich Peshekhonov was a Russian economist, publicist, and statistician. He was a member of the Russian provisional government as a minister of food supplies for some months in the summer of 1917.- Life :Peshekhonov was a self-educated social activist...

 
National socialists
Minister of Post and Telegraph Irakli Tsereteli
Irakli Tsereteli
Irakli Tsereteli was a Georgian politician, one of the leaders of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and later the Georgian Mensheviks....

 
Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod  Vladimir Lvov Progressist
Progressist Party
The Progressist Party was a group of moderate Russian liberals organized in 1908; it had 28 deputies in the Third Duma and 48 in the Fourth. Its most prominent members were Ivan Nikolaevich Efremov, Alexander Konovalov, and Pavel Ryabushinsky...



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.

July crisis and second coalition government


July crisis
July Days
The July Days refers to events in 1917 that took place in Petrograd, Russia, between 3 July and 7 July , when soldiers and industrial workers engaged in spontaneous demonstrations against the Russian Provisional Government...

 took place in Petrograd between July 3 and 7 (Julian calendar) (July 16–July 20, Gregorian calendar), when soldiers and industrial workers in the city rioted against the Provisional Government. After the rising was put down, the Bolsheviks were blamed for it, and their leader Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

 went into hiding, while other leaders were arrested.

The result of the events was new protracted crisis in the Provisional Government. "Bourgeois" ministers, belonging to the Constitutional Democratic Party
Constitutional Democratic party
The Constitutional Democratic Party was a liberal political party in the Russian Empire. Party members were called Kadets, from the abbreviation K-D of the party name...

 resigned, and no cabinet could be formed to the end of the month. Finally, on August 6 (July 24) 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
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

 
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

Vice-President, Minister of Finance Nikolai Nekrasov
Nikolai Vissarionovich Nekrasov
Nikolai Vissarionovich Nekrasov was a Russian liberal politician and the last Governor-General of Finland.-Parliamentary career:...

 
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Tereshchenko
Mikhail Tereshchenko
Mikhail Ivanovich Tereshchenko was the foreign minister of Russia from 5 May 1917 to 25 October 1917...

 
Non-party
Minister of Internal Affairs Nikolai Avksentyev  Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

Minister of Transport Piotr Yurenev  Kadet
Minister of Trade and Industry Sergei Prokopovich
Sergei Prokopovich
Sergei Nikolaevich Prokopovich was a Russian economist, sociologist, 'Revisionist' Social-Democrat and liberal politician.-Life:Prokopovich was born into a noble family in Tsarskoe Selo in 1871. In the early 1890s he became involved in radical student politics and was at first attracted to...

 
Non-party
Minister of Justice Alexander Zarudny
Alexander Zarudny
Alexander Sergeyevich Zarudny was a Russian lawyer and politician. In 1887 he was arrested in conjunction with the assissination of Alexander II of Russia but was released due to the lack of evidence. In 1902-1917 he worked as a lawyer. He was a representative of Menahem Mendel Beilis, a Jew...

 
National socialists
Minister of Education Sergey Oldenburg
Sergey Oldenburg
Sergey Fyodorovich Oldenburg was a Russian orientalist who specialized in Buddhist studies. He is remembered as the founder of Russian Indology and the teacher of Fyodor Shcherbatskoy....

 
Kadet
Minister of Agriculture Victor Chernov  Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

Minister of Labour Matvey Skobelev
Matvey Skobelev
-Trotsky's Disciple in Vienna :Skobelev was born in the family of a wealthy Baku oilman . He joined the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party in 1903. After the Russian Revolution of 1905 he went abroad to study at a polytechnic in Vienna...

 
Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

Minister of Food Alexey Peshekhonov
Alexey Peshekhonov
Alexey Vasilyevich Peshekhonov was a Russian economist, publicist, and statistician. He was a member of the Russian provisional government as a minister of food supplies for some months in the summer of 1917.- Life :Peshekhonov was a self-educated social activist...

 
National socialists
Minister of Health Care Ivan Efremov 
Minister of Post and Telegraph Alexei Nikitin  Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod  Vladimir Lvov  Progressist
Progressist Party
The Progressist Party was a group of moderate Russian liberals organized in 1908; it had 28 deputies in the Third Duma and 48 in the Fourth. Its most prominent members were Ivan Nikolaevich Efremov, Alexander Konovalov, and Pavel Ryabushinsky...


Third coalition


From October 8 (September 25), 1917.
Post Name Party
Minister-President Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

 
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

Vice-President, Minister of Trade and Industry Alexander Konovalov  Kadets
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Tereshchenko
Mikhail Tereshchenko
Mikhail Ivanovich Tereshchenko was the foreign minister of Russia from 5 May 1917 to 25 October 1917...

 
Non-party
Minister of Internal Affairs, Post and Telegraph Alexei Nikitin  Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

Minister of War Alexander Verkhovsky 
Minister of Navy Dmitry Verderevsky
Dmitry Verderevsky
Dmitry Nikolayevich Verderevsky was a Russian military leader and rear admiral.He served as Minister of the Navy in the Russian Provisional Government in 1917....

 
Minister of Finance Mikhail Bernatsky 
Minister of Justice Pavel Malyantovitch  Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

Minister of Transport Alexander Liverovsky  Non-party
Minister of Education Sergei Salazkin
Sergei Salazkin
Sergei Sergeievich Salazkin was a Russian biochemist and academic; in 1917 he served in the Russian Provisional Government.-Life:S.S. Salazkin was born on February 26 , 1862, in Doschatoe in the Russian Empire. He studied physics and mathematics at the University of St. Petersburg and medicine at...

 
Non-party
Minister of Agriculture Semen Maslov  Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

Minister of Labour Kuzma Gvozdev  Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

Minister of Food Sergei Prokopovich
Sergei Prokopovich
Sergei Nikolaevich Prokopovich was a Russian economist, sociologist, 'Revisionist' Social-Democrat and liberal politician.-Life:Prokopovich was born into a noble family in Tsarskoe Selo in 1871. In the early 1890s he became involved in radical student politics and was at first attracted to...

 
Non-party
Minister of Health Care Nikolai Kishkin  Kadet
Minister of Post and Telegraph Alexei Nikitin  Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

Minister of Religion Anton Kartashev
Anton Kartashev
Anton Vladimirovich Kartashev was a Russian journalist and professor of Church History. He was the last Ober-Procurator of the Most Holy Governing Synod and Minister of Religion in the Russian Provisional Government, but from 1920 worked in Paris...

 
Kadet

Legislative Policies, Problems and more Background of the Provisional Government


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
Constitutional Democratic party
The Constitutional Democratic Party was a liberal political party in the Russian Empire. Party members were called Kadets, from the abbreviation K-D of the party name...

), 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
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

), while some, though a small minority in February, favored the more radical Bolshevik Party (see Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

). 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
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

). 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
Petrograd Soviet
The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies , usually called the Petrograd Soviet , was the soviet in Petrograd , Russia, established in March 1917 after the February Revolution as the representative body of the city's workers.The Petrograd Soviet became important during the Russian...

, 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 . 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. .

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
Kerensky Offensive
The Kerensky Offensive was the last Russian offensive in World War I. It took place in July 1917.- Background :...

) 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” . 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 of Society under the Provisional Government


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” . 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 . 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 . 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. However, the Bolsheviks envisioned party-led control of the economy. Therefore, worker self-management, the ultimate form of economic democracy, disappeared when the Bolsheviks gained control of Russia.

Kornilov affair


The Kornilov affair
Kornilov Affair
The Kornilov Affair, or the Kornilov Putsch as it is sometimes referred to, was an attempted coup d'état by the then Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army, General Lavr Kornilov, in August 1917 against the Russian Provisional Government headed by Alexander Kerensky.-Background:Following the...

 in August 1917 became the last nail in the coffin of the Provisional Government. Due to the extreme weakness of the government at this point, there was talk among the elites of bolstering its power by including the Commander-in-chief of Russian army Lavr Kornilov
Lavr Kornilov
Lavr Georgiyevich Kornilov was a military intelligence officer, explorer, and general in the Imperial Russian Army during World War I and the ensuing Russian Civil War...

 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.

The October Revolution




On October 25–26 (by the Julian Calendar, whose use has since been discontinued in Russia), Red Guard
Red Guards (Russia)
In the context of the history of Russia and Soviet Union, Red Guards were paramilitary formations consisting of workers and partially of soldiers and sailors formed in the time frame of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 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
Winter Palace
The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and...

 on the Neva River bank, was captured on the night of the 26th. Kerensky escaped the Winter Palace raid and fled to Pskov
Pskov
Pskov is an ancient city and the administrative center of Pskov Oblast, Russia, located in the northwest of Russia about east from the Estonian border, on the Velikaya River. Population: -Early history:...

, 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
Pulkovo
Pulkovo may refer to:*Pulkovo Heights marking the southern limit of Saint Petersburg, Russia*Pulkovo Airport serving that city*Pulkovo Aviation Enterprise, a former state airline based in Saint Petersburg, Russia...

. 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.

Some historians, 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.”

Riasanovsky
Nicholas V. Riasanovsky
Nicholas Valentine Riasanovsky was a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and the author of numerous books on Russian history. He was born in Harbin, China to lawyer Valentin A. Riasanovskii and Antonia Riasanovskii, a novelist...

 argued that the Provisional Government made perhaps its "worst mistake" 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, argued Riasanovsky, "the Bolsheviks had already gained control of Russia."

Further reading

  • Kerensky, Alexander
    Alexander Kerensky
    Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

    . The Catastrophe: Kerensky’s Own Story of the Russian Revolution. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1927.
  • Medvedev, Roi. The October Revolution. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979.
  • Nabokov, Vladimir Dmitrievich
    Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov
    Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov was a Russian criminologist, journalist, and progressive statesman during the last years of the Russian Empire. He was the father of Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov.- Life :Nabokov was born in Tsarskoe Selo, into a wealthy and aristocratic family...

    . V.D. Nabokov and the Russian Provisional Government, 1917. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976, ISBN 0-300-01820-7
  • Reed, John. Ten Days that Shook the World. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1919.
  • Riasanovsky, Nicholas
    Nicholas V. Riasanovsky
    Nicholas Valentine Riasanovsky was a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and the author of numerous books on Russian history. He was born in Harbin, China to lawyer Valentin A. Riasanovskii and Antonia Riasanovskii, a novelist...

    . A History of Russia (sixth edition). New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Trotsky, Leon
    Leon Trotsky
    Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

    . Lessons of October. New York: Pioneer Publishers, 1937 (1924).