Already by the fall of 1917, Russia had moved to such an extent that the October coup almost all over the country was perceived almost as a given. Subsequently, it even allowed singling out entire paragraphs in textbooks under the “triumphant march of Soviet power” stories. At the same time, even before the coup, and even in cooperation with the leaders of the Soviets, the Provisional Government did not manage to prepare the real ground for the elections to the Constituent Assembly, from which, it seemed, much more was expected of what it was really capable of.
After the Leninists came to power, the process of preparing for the elections was by no means spilled, and it was the Bolsheviks who finally gave him the green light, knowing full well that they could hardly expect victory in a hard confrontation with the Socialist-Revolutionaries and other left-wing parties. . The elections did take place, the meeting was assembled, but the “founders” did not even begin to discuss anything that the country and the people really needed at that time.
The Constituent Assembly ... After the fall of the monarchy, it seemed to many that, as soon as it was elected, all the horrors and problems caused by the revolution would be left behind. Even the Bolsheviks and Left Socialist Revolutionaries, who formed the Soviet government of the people's commissars, did not go to the abolition of the elections to the Constituent Assembly. But the dispersal of the "constitutional" in itself, of course, completely illegal, only confirmed that the idea of "Russian parliamentarism", unfortunately, had exhausted itself much faster than it was born.
It is hardly possible to call successful the preparation of elections to the Constituent Assembly, especially in the then Russian top. It must be admitted that political parties, including the Bolsheviks, and even after the October revolution, were very active in this regard. But the actions of the executive power, the notorious Provisional Government, in fact, limited themselves to the convocation of two large meetings — first the Moscow State, then the Petrograd Democratic. Their representativeness is still not by chance that historians have doubts; moreover, only the second of them made at least some real step towards representative democracy — it was proposed to form a so-called preparatory parliament.
The first attempt to lay the foundation for the future of the “Russian parliament” was made by the Kerensky Cabinet immediately after the July events. The failed left-wing coup showed that under the pressure of the Soviets, which were rapidly becoming the patrimonies of the RSDLP (b) and their fellow travelers, it would be more difficult to retain power every day. Under the conditions when re-assembling the old Duma would be just insane, the idea of convening a single, albeit advisory body, seemed to be in the air. And practically the idea arose to gather not in the left Petrograd, but in a more calm and conservative Moscow.
It was written more than once that in those days, and not only in the two capitals, various kinds of conferences and congresses, party or professional, were held almost daily. However, all of them lacked a single unifying principle. Clearly not enough and status. In this regard, the Provisional Government also made a bid to convene a State Conference, capable of uniting all those who not only support the executive branch, but also do not really want the country to roll to the left. A State Meeting was scheduled for August 12-15 at the Bolshoi Theater.
By that time, the right-wing press had already managed to choose its hero, declaring General LG. Kornilov, there is no "not yet the savior of the fatherland," but a man capable of bringing order. This was done, among other things, at the suggestion of “public figures” who gathered in the First Throne just a few days before the State Conference - from 8 to August 10. The number of these “public figures included several hundreds of specially invited entrepreneurs and merchants, rural leaders and officers, party and trade union functionaries. Among them were such figures as Ryabushinsky and Tretyakov, Konovalov and Vyshnegradsky, a group of cadets led by Pavel Milyukov himself, senior military officials - Brusilov, Kaledin, Yudenich and Alekseev, as well as a number of army and front-line soldiers' commitments loyal to the Provisional Government.
The meeting of “public figures” not only adopted a number of documents indicating positions on the eve of the State Conference, but also welcomed Kornilov with enthusiasm. “God help you,” the telegram said, “in your great deed to re-create the army and save Russia.” The situation on the eve of the forum at the Bolshoi Theater was tense. It was rumored that Kornilov was ready to speak out against the government, and at the same time posters with greetings to the general were hung around the city. For the sake of ensuring the security of the government and the delegates to the meeting, the Moscow Council, then still not a Bolshevik one, promptly formed the Provisional Revolutionary Committee. Representatives of all parties worked in it, including the Bolsheviks Nogin and Muralov.
A hasty selection of 2500 delegates gave the expected result - the majority among representatives of trade and industry, trade unions, zemstvos, the army and fleet, surprisingly, the cadets and monarchists composed. The left parties planned to sabotage, but still did not dare to completely abandon the All-Russian rostrum.
On the eve of the opening of the meeting, a general strike was planned, and although the soldiers 'and workers' Soviets of Moscow voted against it, the city met the delegates unfriendly. Trams got up, there were almost no cab drivers, restaurants and cafes closed. Even at the Bolshoi Theater, the buffet did not work, and in the evening Moscow was plunged into darkness — even the workers of the gas enterprises were on strike.
Against this background, many delegates said that the government does not ensure the restoration of order and does not guarantee the security of the person and property. In fact, the final slogan of the meeting can be called the statement of the Cossack ataman Kaledin: "The plunder of state power by central and local committees and Soviets should immediately and sharply put a limit."
The program of government actions adopted at the meeting also looked extremely rigid: the liquidation of the Soviets, the abolition of public organizations in the army and, of course, the war, to the bitter end. And ... almost no word about the land. If we talk about preparations for the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, then at the State Conference it was actually failed. But the meeting participants, apparently without even realizing it, planted a time bomb under the Provisional Government. The support that they expressed to Kornilov was perceived by him, and by all his associates, as almost universal. Did this also push the general to a final break with Kerensky and Co.?
Arrival Kornilov in Moscow were waiting for 14 August. He arrived at 13, he was organized a noisy meeting with a guard of honor, an orchestra and loyal Turkmen in red dressing gowns. Having traveled, following the example of the kings, to pay homage to the Iversk Icon, he then spent the whole day at the hotel, meeting with his supporters and the press. The next day I spoke at the meeting, did not frighten anyone, but did not inspire, gathered a standing ovation on the right and whistles and shouts on the left.
The meeting ended in nothing. Particularly disappointed was his main initiator, Kerensky, who admitted: “It’s difficult for me, because I fight the Bolsheviks with the Left and the Bolsheviks, and they demand from me that I rely on one or the other ... I want to go in the middle, but they don’t help me.” Kornilov, clearly overestimating the "nationwide support", with the departure from Moscow, continued to drag the troops to the agitated Petrograd. A few days later, Riga suddenly fell, in which they immediately blamed those who "led the work on the collapse of the army," although modern historians are inclined to a much more terrible version. Riga passed the supreme command in order to have in their hands an even stronger argument in favor of taking tough measures.
And then there was the Kornilov revolt, in the suppression of which there was no way to overestimate the role of the RSDLP (b) and the Red Guard detachments created by it. After that, Kerensky went on to create the next, even more left-wing coalition cabinet, as well as the Directory.
Against such a background, the proclamation of Russia as a Republic looked somewhat strange. But the idea to reanimate the State Conference in the form of a Democratic Conference, of course, now with the participation of representatives of the Soviets, looked quite logical in the autumn of 1917. Someone she seemed to be saving. It is significant that at the time of convening the Democratic Conference, the Bolsheviks managed to take control of the Moscow and Petrograd Soviets of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies, and the latter was headed by none other than Leo Trotsky.
The new All-Russian deliberative forum, which lasted for nine days - from 14 to 22 of September (according to Art. Style) 1917 was already held in Petrograd. He was very different in composition from the State Conference. Here the right, led by the Cadets, could no longer count not on the majority, but even on relative equality with the Social Revolutionaries, the Mensheviks, the Trudoviks (once among them were Kerensky) and the Bolsheviks. Of the 1582 delegates who were hastily and according to completely unthinkable sometimes principles elected throughout Russia, exactly one third represented the Social Revolutionary Party - 532. Add to them the 172 Menshevik, the 136 Bolsheviks and the 55 Trudoviks, in order to understand why such authorities as Milyukov or the millionaire minister Tereshchenko called the new meeting "empty-headed".
However, this did not in the least prevent them both, just as, by the way, several dozens of other “rightists” could safely get into the pre-parliament formed at the meeting. It was this way immediately after the formation that the Council of the Republic was called - a temporary body, called upon, above all, to prepare elections for the Constituent Assembly. In the meantime, before the elections, as if to replace him, at the same time giving greater legitimacy to the Provisional Government, under which the chairs had already obviously swayed.
The formation of the Pre-Parliament is almost the only real achievement of the Democratic Conference. Everything else really looked more like an empty talker, because the delegates did not reach a common opinion on the issue of power or war, although even the Minister of War among the "temporary" A. Verkhovsky said: "Any attempts to continue the war will only bring the catastrophe closer." Even the most right-wing delegates of the Democratic Conference were not reminded of the not so old decisions of the State Conference, where it was proposed to disperse the Soviets and liquidate army democracy, fearing to be immediately accused of pursuing dictatorship.
The Pre-Parliament was elected on the basis of the 15-percentage representation of political parties and public organizations, which a little later, at the insistence of the Provisional Government, were supplemented by representatives of the so-called qualifying organizations and institutions (local and business associations, trade unions, etc.). As a result, with the total number of 555 deputies in the Council of the Republic, 135 Social Revolutionaries, 92 Mensheviks, 75 Cadets, 30 Popular Socialists turned out to be. The right SRs N. Avksentiev was elected Chairman of the Council.
The Bolsheviks received only 58 mandates in the Pre-Parliament and a few days after the start of its work, they made an unexpected demarche - they declared a boycott. In conditions when the rapid Bolshevization covered not only Moscow and Petrograd, but also many provincial Soviets, this directly indicated that there was again diarchy in the country. And the inability to “lower” any decisions down to the places quickly turned all the activities of the Council of the Republic into nonsense.
The Leninist Party, with the tangible support of the left wing of the Social Revolutionaries, was no longer hiding, preparing an armed uprising against the Provisional Government, and in the Pre-Parliament threw all attempts to put forward allies to the allies, as well as the adversary. Many, in fact, engaged in the salvation of their own people and states. This caused Pavel Milyukov’s bitter grin a bit later: “The Council had two days left to live,” and these two days were filled with worries not about the worthy representation of Russia abroad, but about somehow coping with the newly-flushed internal squall that threatened to flood everything ".
The October revolution led not only to the actual, but also to the legal curtailment of the activities of the Council of the Republic. Incidentally, he held his regular meeting at almost the same time when the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets was in Smolny. And, as Miliukov stated with no less bitterness: “No attempt was made ... to leave an organized body or group of members to react to events. This was reflected in the general consciousness of the powerlessness of this ephemeral institution and the impossibility for it, after the resolution adopted on the eve of the resolution, to take any kind of joint actions. ”
The irony of the story! The Bolsheviks literally yearned to give legitimacy to the very II Congress of Soviets. They twice offered to discuss the issue of its convocation not somewhere, but in the Pre-Parliament. But that was before the boycott. And then there was October 1917, elections to the Constituent Assembly, the beginning and the pitiable ending of his work.