Above: Illustration of analytical structure how Russian Revolution in 1905 sprouted
All classes, especially land and property owners, became more and more political conscious after the Russo-Japanese War. Early 1904 saw liberals active in zemstovs or assemblies. The professionals came to form their own organization called the Union of Liberation. Simultaneously the movement crossed national borders and members of the Russian Socialist Revolutionary Party joined hands with their counterparts in Finland, Poland, Georgia, Armenia to form a brotherhood aimed against the autocrats. In due course a broader body, Union of Unions came to be set up.
Above: Procession of workers led by Father Gapol with his follower, putting down demands to Tsar Nicholas II (St. Petersburg 1905)
Events began to gather pace. Early in 1905, Father Gapon, a Russian Orthodox priest, headed a police sponsored workers organization and peacefully marched to the Tsar at St. Petersburg with a petition. Seeing the huge procession the soldiers nervously fired. Hundreds were killed. The incident came to be called ‘Bloody Sunday’. Together with the feeling of humiliation at the hands of Japan this event snowballed into a series of strikes involving the aggrieved in the agrarian sector, the army and the workers in industrial units. The opposition added stoke to the fire and terrorists jumped into action. Workers council or soviets came to be formed in St. Petersburg. Moscow, the Urals, Latvia and some regions of Poland saw sporadic armed insurrections. Members of the zemstvos and the Union of Unions created the Constitutional Democratic Party. The members were named Kadets.
Above: Picture of Chief Sergei Witte
The bent of events caused fear among the upper propertied strata of society. They came forward with negotiations and put pressure on the Tsar through Witte. The October Manifesto, in October 1905, granted Russia a constitution and the citizens their civil rights. There was to be a ministerial government accountable to the Tsar and not to the Duma (State Assembly). The latter was to be elected on a broad but not universal franchise. Those who acquiesced to this agreement came to be called the Octoberists. The Manifesto alienated the Kadets who continued with armed revolts. The leftists were in the horns of a dilemma as to whether they should or should not support the Manifesto. The rightists fanned anti-Jewish feelings and came out strongly against any sort of reform. Against this background the Tsarist rule stumbled along restoring some sort of law order in the cities and countryside. Terrorists murdered thousands of officials while the government retaliated by executing an equal number of rebels. The Tsar managed to get a loan from France – the latter being satisfied with the apparent firmness of the regime. Now in a strong position, the first thing Nicholas did was to get rid of Chief Minister Witte.
Above: Tauride Palace at St. Petersburg, is where the sessions of First Duma took place.
1906 saw the first Duma elections. The Kadets and their allies dominated the assembly. The leftists were weaker than the combined strength of the Octoberists and Rightists. It lead to a deadlock between the Kadets and the government over the twin issues of formation of a Constitution and reform of the peasantry. Finally the Duma had to be dissolved and dates set for fresh elections. Although the left escalated their violence the radical leftists participated in the election process and together with the non-party left managed a majority. The Kadets allying with the Poles and other national parties came to occupy a second position. Again there was a stalemate, which continued till the second Duma finally met in 1907.
Below: Picture of Prime Minister Ivan Goremykin – influential in disbanding First State Duma