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11-08-2015, 17:11

THE TSAR'S ABDICATION AND THE FORMATION OF A PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT

This sign of a disintegrating monarchy soon became the norm. Isolated at Russian central military headquarters at Mogilev, Nicholas tried in vain to reach his capital. A railwaymen's strike diverted him to the headquarters of the northern front. There his generals persuaded him to abdicate. The Provisional Government took power in the wake of the tsar's departure. Drawn from members of the Duma, it was a self-appointed body whose members were acutely aware that they held no formal popular mandate. Nonetheless, they proclaimed freedom of the press and the right of workers to strike and granted amnesty to all political prisoners. The traditional police force was abolished in favor of a new, supposedly less repressive militia. Perhaps due to its high ideals, perhaps due to hopes it might wage the war more effectively, the postrevolutionary government enjoyed a brief period of popularity. Initially, the dominant figure was Paul Miliukov, the foreign minister and a western-style liberal. A rising figure who came to direct the Provisional Government by early summer was the more radical Alexander Kerensky. Both leaders, however, were committed to remaining in the war and postponing radical social and political change. Events soon outran their control. The delay in carrying out basic reforms such as distributing land to the peasantry undercut the government's authority. Peasants soon took over lands without waiting for the government's approval. The decision to remain in the war proved even more unpopular. Desertion rates, high even in 1914, now threatened the very existence of the armed forces. Moreover, since the start of the revolution, the Provisional Government had been forced to share power with the Petrograd Soviet. This group of revolutionary intellectuals claimed to represent the interests, not of the entire nation, but of the peasants, workers, and soldiers. Its leadership grew increasingly radical, especially by the fall of 1917.

 

 

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