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11-08-2015, 17:11

CIVILIANS' HARDSHIPS AND THE OUTBREAK OF REVOLUTION

Meanwhile, the urban population was tormented by raging inflation and the breakdown of the food and fuel system. In Petrograd at the start of the revolutionary year 1917, bread prices rose 2 percent each week, and one agent of the political police warned that "children are starving in the most literal sense of the word." The food shortage was due partly to the disintegration of the railroad system, and it also showed the government's ineffectiveness in dealing with the rural masses. There was plenty of food in the countryside. But with no consumer goods available from Russia's wartime factories, peasants hoarded their grain harvests rather than selling for no real return. Thus, when the Women's Day demonstrations escalated into massive unrest in March 1917, the monarchy had little to fall back on. The new year had begun with large and ugly strikes that commemorated the anniversary of the massacre in front of the Winter Palace twelve years earlier. An ominous sign for the government was the lack of enthusiasm displayed by the Cossacks in putting down labor unrest. Drawn from the southern and eastern borderlands of Russia, the Cossacks were traditionally the most reliable troops the monarchy possessed for subduing domestic strife. As disorder spread in Petrograd, first the Cossacks, then army units wavered. A key event took place at public meeting on March 10 at Znamenskaya Square in the capital city. When an army lieutenant drew his revolver to silence a radical orator, a Cossack rode forward to kill the officer with his saber.9

 

 

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