Indeed, Russia was sinking deeper into confusion. And the defeats at the front were a reflection of the general catastrophe that swept across Russia. The project of the Romanovs was destroyed, and with it the whole “old Russia” collapsed into the abyss. The pro-Western liberal-democratic public, the bourgeoisie, large and medium-sized owners, the church have not yet understood this. They thought that by crushing autocracy one could curb Russia, turn it towards European civilization, “enlightenment”. You can keep the old order with the domination of those in power and the owners of capital, factories, factories and newspapers. With the “superstructure” in the form of bourgeois-liberal parties, the new “rightists” (formerly the monarchists were traditionalists, the Black Hundreds were right), who will talk about “democracy”, “freedom”, “equality”. But the real owners of Russia will be the owners, owners of money and capital. Now they were betting on the generals, who were supposed to “curb” Russia, drown the crowd prone to anarchy in blood.
General Kornilov planned to establish a strong power on dictatorial principles. After the defeat of the Russian troops in the Riga operation and the fall of Riga on August 21 (September 3), Kornilov began negotiations with Kerensky. Leading them through intermediaries, Kornilov sought to achieve a peaceful transfer to him of all power. He planned to improve the army, to restore the discipline destroyed by the revolutionaries of February revolutionaries (the February lists disbanded the army so that it could not defend the autocracy, but then the processes of degradation became irreversible). Kornilov planned to transfer the military industry and railways to martial law, which was long overdue (with the start of the war). If these measures had been thought of to conduct the tsarist government in 1914-1915, it is possible that the autocracy and the Romanov dynasty could survive and lead the process of radical modernization of the Russian empire (which the Bolsheviks eventually had to do, but after a lot of blood and huge losses).
The problem was that these measures were already late. The degradation processes have gone too far. Russia already needed a new development project, a goal and a clear program that was understandable and close to the broad masses of the people. The revolutionary revolutionaries, right and left, could not give a new development project, idea and program. The rightists wanted only “order” and “strong hand”, which would calm the crowd, turn Russia into a part of European civilization and with its bourgeois-republican order, where all real power belongs to the owners (bourgeois class). The left wanted to continue the path of "democratic reforms", which also led to the catastrophe. In addition, the leftists were afraid of Kornilov and the generals, they were afraid of losing the power they had.
On the eve of the rebellion, such public organizations as the Union of Army Officers and fleet, Cossack Council, Union of St. George Knights, Republican Center, prominent figures of the Cadet Party and even part of the Social Revolutionaries. The financial support of Kornilov’s performance through public organizations was provided by the largest Russian capitalists Pavel Ryabushinsky, Morozovs, Sergey Tretyakov, Alexey Putilov, Alexander Vyshnegradsky, representatives of the merchant clan Morozovs and others. They were afraid of losing influence and capital with the further development of the revolution.
After the occupation of Petrograd, Kornilov and his comrades planned to liquidate the Soviets and other “arbitrary organizations”, to take measures to restore discipline among the troops, at work and in transport to continue the “war to victory”, to exclude from the Provisional Government "those ministers who information were clear traitors to the motherland. " At the same time, Kornilov never formulated a clear political program. General Anton Denikin, close to Kornilov, noted that “Lavr Georgievich was neither a socialist nor a monarchist, alien to political passions,” but was close to “wide sections of liberal democracy.”
General Lavr Kornilov (center)
Kornilov tried to negotiate with Kerensky. First, Kornilov managed to persuade Kerensky to enter reliable troops in the capital. Events at the front contributed to this. Riga fell, Petrograd was facing a possible blow from the enemy. The fear of the German offensive overpowered Kerensky’s dislike for the Russian generals. The 3 Cavalry Corps of General Alexander Krymov (he was in the reserve of the Romanian Front) advanced to the Petrogradsky district. The 3 Corps was to become the core of the Separate Petrograd Army, subordinated directly to the Headquarters. They planned to create a directory consisting of Kornilov, Kerensky and Socialist-Revolutionary Savinkov (a famous terrorist and a prominent participant in the February-March coup), endowed with dictatorial powers. Kerensky wanted to take the place of the chairman of the triumvirate. This was the main question for this ambitious man. Kornilov suggested that Kerensky go to GHQ to personally discuss this issue. But Kerensky was only a hero in appearance, he showed cowardice, was afraid that they would simply arrest him. He already regretted his collusion with the general and sent Ober-Prosecutor of the Synod V. Lvov to the Headquarters for negotiations.
24 August (6 September) Lviv arrived at Headquarters. General Kornilov explained to him that it was necessary to establish a dictatorship with the participation of Kerensky. That the general is ready to submit to the future chairman. 25 August (7 September) Kornilov moved troops to Petrograd, demanding the resignation of the Provisional Government and the departure of Kerensky to Headquarters. The commanders of the troops loyal to Kornilov were instructed to occupy Petrograd, to disarm parts of the Petrograd garrison that would join the Bolshevik movement, and to disperse the Soviets. August 26 (September 8) Lviv returned to Petrograd and informed Kerensky that Kornilov was claiming supreme authority, both military and civil. Kerensky was even more frightened for his power and ordered Kornilov to resign himself as Supreme Commander. Kornilov refused to leave his post. Petrograd's relations with Mogilyov were interrupted. On August 27 (September 9), the cadet ministers, who coordinated their actions with Kornilov, resigned, thereby trying to paralyze the activities of the government.
On the same day, the Provisional Government issued a manifesto where Kornilov was outlawed. Hero of the Carpathians was called a "traitor." In response, Kornilov called the entire Provisional Government "German mercenaries." Kerensky ordered the commanders not to subordinate the rebellious Supreme, and the troops to disobey the rebellious commanders. He pardoned the arrested Bolsheviks, called for various revolutionaries to defend the gains of the revolution, and ordered the opening of arsenals for the revolutionary workers of Petrograd. About 15 thousand people enrolled in the Red Guard detachments. While revolutionaries were actively preparing for defense, Kornilov was inactive at headquarters. In theory, he himself had to lead the corps of Krymov. But he remained in Mogilev, and almost all of his virtually random entourage left the general.
Krymov's cavalry was scattered from Pskov to Luga. The troops of the Northern Front did not resist, the arrival of the Kornilovites temporarily restored order and discipline. However, General Krymov could not take advantage of the favorable moment, while supporters of Kerensky had not yet had time to organize. Without receiving any instructions from the Stavka (the Stavka was cut off from the fronts), he was stunned by the unexpected confrontation between the Stavka and the government, he detained the troops at Luga on August 29 (September 11). And he went to clarify the situation in Petrograd, and there 31 August died. Krymov was invited to Kerensky and offered to capitulate. It is believed that realizing his position as an actual prisoner, as well as the impossibility to change anything, he preferred death to humiliating interrogations and arrest. Coming out of the office of Kerensky, he shot himself. According to one of the versions of Krymov, the adjutants of Kerensky were shot dead. The prince Bagration-Mukhransky, who had entered into the place of Krymov on the orders of the Provisional Government, took the 3 cavalry corps to the Pskov-Velikie Luki area.
The fighting of the Kornilov troops and the units of the loyal to the Kerensky and the Red Guards were insignificant. The Red Guards, so that the trains with the Kornilov troops could not pass in Petrograd, dismantled the railway track. August 29 (September 11) by the executive committee of the South-Western Front arrested Commander A. I. Denikin. Following this, the army committees of all the armies of this front arrested their commanders — generals Lukomsky, Markov, Romanovsky, Erdelyi, and others. Other supporters of Kornilov were isolated at the front and in a number of cities in the country. August 31 (September 13) - the day of the death of Krymovav - was officially announced the liquidation of the Kornilov revolt. 2 (15) September 1917 Kornilov was arrested, and together with his supporters was imprisoned in the city of Bykhov.
A group of arrested generals and officers led by Kornilov in the period of Bykhov's imprisonment. By numbers: 1. L. G. Kornilov. 2. A. I. Denikin. 3. G. M. Vannovsky. 4. I. G. Erdelyi. 5. E. F. Elsner. 6. A. S. Lukomsky. 7. V.N. Kislyakov. 8. I. P. Romanovsky. 9. S.L. Markov. 10. M. I. Orlov. 11. L.N. Novosiltsev. 12. V.M. Pronin. 13. I. G. Sots. 14. S.N. Ryasnyansky. 15. V. Ye. Rozhenko. 16. A.P. Bragin. 17. I. A. Rodionov. 18. G. L. Chunikhin. 19. V.V. Kletsand. 20. Warrant Officer S. F. Nikitin. Autumn 1917 of the year
Thus, the rebellion, which was originally prepared with the participation of Kerensky himself in order to restore "order" in the country and the army, was suppressed. Kerensky was afraid that he would lose power and declared Kornilov a “traitor”. The Right Revolutionary Februaryist camp, which planned to curtail the development of the revolution, was defeated. Kerensky himself further strengthened the regime of personal power, in fact, created his revolutionary dictatorship. Russia continued to sink into the Troubles.
1 (14) September 1917, Alexander Kerensky appointed himself the new commander-in-chief and, in order to overcome the government crisis, changed the structure of the government by creating the so-called “Council of Five” or Directory (similar to the Great French Revolution), which besides himself included four ministers - Finance Minister Mikhail Tereshchenko, War Minister General Alexander Verkhovsky, Maritime Minister Rear Admiral Dmitry Verderevsky and Minister of Post and Telegraph Alexei Nikitin. Thus, the dictatorship is still introduced, but different, aimed at preserving the "revolutionary gains".
On the same day, 1 (14) of September 1917, the Russian Republic was proclaimed by decree of the Provisional Government. Thus, the Russian Empire was officially buried. At the same time, the Directory legalized the rout of the tsarist police apparatus, the abolition of penal servitude and exile. A broad political amnesty was announced, under which the Bolsheviks were accused of organizing the July uprising. It was also promised to introduce all other political freedoms characteristic of democratic countries. All questions of the device of Russia in the future should have been decided by the Constituent Assembly.
The September 1 (14) Ordinance of 1917 stated: “The mutiny of General Kornilov is suppressed. But great distemper, made them in the ranks of the army and the country. And once again there is a great danger threatening the fate of the Motherland and its freedom. Considering it necessary to put a limit on the external uncertainty of the state system, bearing in mind the unanimous and enthusiastic recognition of the republican idea, which affected the Moscow State Meeting, the Provisional Government declares that the state order, which is governed by the Russian state, is a republican order, and proclaims the Russian republic. The urgent need to take immediate and decisive measures to restore the shaken state order prompted the Provisional Government to transfer the fullness of its power to manage five people from its composition headed by the Minister-Chairman. The interim government considers its main task to be the restoration of state order and the army’s combat capability. Convinced that only the concentration of all the living forces of a country can lead the Motherland out of the difficult situation it is in. The Provisional Government will strive to expand its membership by attracting representatives of all those elements who place the eternal and common interests of the Motherland above the temporary and private interests of individual parties or classes into their ranks. The Provisional Government has no doubt that they will complete this task in the next few days. ” The decree was signed by the Minister-Chairman A. F. Kerensky and the Minister of Justice A. S. Zarudny.
As a result, the “right” wing of the February revolutionaries — the bourgeoisie, the capitalists, the nobles-landowners, the generals, part of the officers and Cossacks, the church, was defeated. Their political superstructure — the Cadets, the Right Social Revolutionaries, were discredited. The Soviets and the Red Guard (in her hands fell to 40 thousands of rifles, issued by Kerensky himself), on the contrary, restored their positions lost after the July insurrection, exposing themselves as true "defenders of democracy." The Soviets gradually passed under the control of the Bolsheviks, who consistently and not particularly hiding prepared an armed seizure of power.
Alexander Kerensky in Petrograd
The Provisional Government, Kerensky, themselves dug up a grave. So, September 4 (17), the Provisional Government, which announced a political amnesty, had to be released from prison Leon Trotsky, who after just a couple of weeks became the chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, and after another three weeks formed the Military Revolutionary Committee on its basis. Kerensky himself later also said that "without the Kornilov revolt, there would have been no Lenin."
On the other hand, the “rightists”, after an unsuccessful attempt to restore order with the help of the generals, continued their intrigues and took the path of creating the future White movement and unleashing a civil war. 5 (18) of September, Alexander Verkhovsky is one of the members of the Directory, - wrote in his diary: “Kerensky and a group of people around him do not meet the demands of the situation now. While the masses go to the left under the influence of the growing ruin and anarchy, the intelligentsia and the possessing classes abruptly go to the right, losing faith in the people. The thought of iron power is increasingly heard; it does not indicate here just how to do it with the present disintegration of Russia into parties and classes. Kerensky remains in place and an emptiness is formed in front of him. On the other hand, he does not own the masses of control technology, he does not have the courage to make big decisions. ”
At the same time, the process of collapse, fragmentation and “autonomization” of the former empire developed. The Bolsheviks in the regions have already begun to break ties with the Provisional Government and create their "people's republics". The first to take such a step was the well-known Donbass Bolshevik Fyodor Sergeyev ("Comrade Artem"), who actively participated in the 1905 revolution of the year, and then fled from the tsarist prison and hid in Asia and Australia. 4 (17) September Artem announced the creation of a “people's republic” independent of the Provisional Government in the Donbas. 5 (18) September in the occupied German army of Lithuania was formed the so-called "Lithuanian Tariba" (Council of Lithuania) - a local government body.
6 (19) September in Kiev opened the so-called "Congress of Peoples and Regions of Russia", convened on the initiative of the Central Rada. 86 delegates representing different nations, national-religious and caste-territorial associations of the former Russian empire - Ukrainians, Belarusians, Cossacks, Crimean Tatars, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Poles, Jews, Georgians, Azeris, Muslims, etc. In addition to the Poles, no one has yet advocated the complete independence of their territories, but everyone raised the question of autonomy and the federalist principles of the new democratic Russian state. Following the results of the congress, Lithuania also recognized the right to education of a sovereign state, but from its “Russian and Prussian parts”. Opening the congress, the head of the Ukrainian Central Rada, Mikhail Grushevsky, emphasized that Kiev had long become the center of the federalist movement of the Slavs, and the salvation of Russia was in its federalization. The congress formed a Council of Peoples with a center in Kiev to prepare for the start of the work of the Constituent Assembly on the law on the federal structure of the state. Russia went at full speed to its collapse.