Russia in the 20th Century

Russia in the 20th Century

In the early years of the century. XX the internal situation went through a serious crisis: chain workers strikes, peasant revolts, ideological insurrection against the autocracy by the liberal bourgeoisie. The two revolutionary parties, the Social Democrat, now divided into ” Bolsheviks ” and ” Mensheviks “, operating mainly outside the borders, and the Social Revolutionary, who combined Marxist doctrines with populist ideas and acted especially in the countryside, spread their message with increasing effectiveness. The Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), advocated by Minister Pleve (1902-04; already infamous for the organization of¬†pogroms) as a diversion that would have removed the nightmare of the revolution, showed what was the disorganization of the Russian armed forces and how lightly the country was called to serious sacrifices to defend the interests of a clique of speculators. Instead of distracting the people from the most pressing problems, the war in the Far East sharpened unrest and discontent; the already low confidence in the government and the army vanished; the renunciations to which the population was subjected appeared unjustified. On January 22, 1905, a peaceful demonstration in front of the Winter Palace was dispersed with thousands of dead and wounded (“Bloody Sunday”); popular uprisings followed, the mutiny of the battleship Potemkin in the Black Sea, pronouncements of troops, decided to take a stand by the liberals. Tsar Nicholas then promised to convene a representative assembly (Duma) and in October 1905 issued a manifesto with various constitutional promises. The hope that something would really change in the Russian regime soon went up in smoke: the Duma, which was placed in opposition to a government that was only accountable to the Tsar, was dissolved after a few weeks (1906). The second Duma was equally fortunate; the third (1907) was able to survive because the electoral system had been modified in favor of the upper classes.

According to usprivateschoolsfinder, this attempt to equip Russia with modern institutions only served to highlight the harsh anti-government opposition of the bourgeois class, concentrated in the “cadet” party. Meanwhile, the government had managed to consolidate Russia’s international position by strengthening the alliance with France in 1891 (whose value, given the ideological incompatibility of the two countries, it was reduced to the financial and military fields) with another, no less surprising, agreement with England (1907). It was a question of repressing alleged German war intentions and developing an anti-Austrian policy in the Balkans. Between 1906 and 1911 the shrewd minister Stolypin tried one last move to save old Russia: the suppression of the agrarian “communes” and the creation of a peasant-owner class capable of assuming a conservative role. The operation appeared to be successful, but by favoring an elite, it worsened the conditions of the mass, adding new incentives to the revolutionary demands. In the world war, Russia intervened by aligning itself with France and Serbia, which had already been moving in the political orbit of St. Petersburg for some years, and immediately unleashed an offensive against East Prussia which served to curb the march of the Germans on Paris, but which ended in severe defeat (Tannenberg, 1914). In 1915 there were other defeats with enormous losses (Masuri Lakes, Galicia) and even when the Russian troops advanced (Bucovina, 1916), this happened with an incredible waste of men and materials.

The disorganization, already serious at the beginning of the conflict, exceeded all limits in 1916: all transport was in crisis, the army lacked ammunition and the people of bread; dishonest speculators and suppliers amassed huge fortunes. In the imperial family the influence of the superstitious Tsarina on the Tsar and of the pseudo-monk Rasputin on the Tsarina became stronger and stronger. The insurrection against that tragic combination of tyranny and powerlessness came from the people of Petrograd even before the revolutionary parties (January-March 1917). It was a sudden outbreak of strikes, looting of shops, mutinies of troops, invasions of public offices, assaults on courts and prisons. Thus, with spontaneous and tumultuous demonstrations, under the eyes of a paralyzed and almost resigned government, the long journey of the Russian Revolution began. From the Revolution onwards, the historical and political events of Russia belong to the history of the USSR. For the events following the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1991), see the entry Russian Federation.

Russia in the 20th Century

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