A hundred years ago, the West used the same methods as now.
Many people tend to view contemporary events as something new. However, the so-called “new technologies” quite often repeat methods tested long ago. Alas, not seeing this, it is impossible to use the experience of the past.
So, for example, the phrase “soft power” has become popular these days, which means fighting for the minds. Agents of "soft power" seek to penetrate the media of another state, to establish close ties with politicians, businessmen and so on. Influential people are encouraged by grants, invited to “lecture”, give prestigious awards, provide profitable commercial orders. Biased information spreads to the rest of the world, creating an attractive image of a state using “soft power.”
So France, and then Britain used the widest arsenal of “soft power” means in order to influence the mindset in tsarist Russia. We will not go back centuries, since we are interested in the period immediately preceding the February revolution. But even in this short epoch, a lot of interesting things happened, and the dissertation work of the historian Svetlana Kolotovkina “Anglo-Russian public relations during the First World War (1914 - February 1917)” will help us in the study of this issue.
To begin with, during the First World War, in the pages of the world-famous newspaper The Times, the idea was sounded to invite liberal writers and correspondents of Russia to Britain in order to show them the scale of the British military efforts. It was supposed that the Russians, returning home, would later acquaint the public with the information received. The British ambassador to Russia, Buchanan appealed to the government of our country with a request to allow such a visit, and the British secret service agent, working in the status of trade consul, Lockhart personally selected candidates of the delegation of Moscow writers.
If we talk about representatives of major Russian publications, the British invited Bashmakov from Government Gazette, Yegorov from Novoye Vremya, Nabokov from Rech, Chukovsky from Niva. The delegation was led by Nemirovich-Danchenko (“The Russian Word”), and in addition to journalists, the writer A.N. Tolstoy.
The visit of Russian leaders of public opinion was given such serious importance that the question was overseen by the head of the British Foreign Ministry Gray. And directly the work program of the delegation was developed by the Committee for the rapprochement of England and Russia headed by Lord Werdel. When the Russian guests arrived in London, an extravaganza of enthusiasm began. There is a meeting with King George V, a government banquet, a visit to the House of Lords and the House of Commons, meetings with British diplomats, famous writers (Wells, Conan Doyle), a visit to the University of London and the Union of British Newspaper Publishers.
In addition, delegations showed British ships fleet. Guests from Russia had breakfast on the flagship of Admiral Dzheliko, met with the assistant to the fleet commander, Vice Admiral Burney. Russian journalists visited the British Headquarters in France, and drove to the front.
The British were not mistaken in those who were invited. The participants of the trip published detailed descriptions of their voyage and characteristics of what they saw in Britain were not just positive, but filled with admiration.
In January, 1916, Buchanan began to prepare a second trip. This time the British decided to invite politicians. Buchanan held relevant negotiations with the Chairman of the Duma Rodzianko. As in the first case, the question was controlled by Gray, the necessary consultations were held with the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Sazonov. After all the approvals, the delegation included Protopopov, Milyukov, Shingarev, Rachkovsky, Radkevich, Chikhachev, Demchenko, Oznobishin, Engelhardt, Ichas, Gurko, Vasilyev, Lobanov-Rostovsky, Rosen, Velopolsky, Olsufiev.
Most of these people subsequently became prominent Februaryists. This applies even to Chikhachev, who is usually referred to as moderate-right, that is, illiberals. However, in the days of the revolution he carried out the instructions of the Provisional Committee of the State Duma, and therefore, was on the side of state criminals. Oznobishin supported the revolution, as was directly stated by Rodzianko. Demchenko - Commissioner of the Provisional Government. Engelhardt - Head of the Provisional Government Military Commission. Gurko, Vasilyev, Olsufiev belonged to the opposition Progressive bloc - the union of members of the Duma and the State Council. The leader of the bloc was none other than Milyukov.
23 April 1916, the delegation arrived in London. As in the first case, the guests received a warm welcome, a meeting with the English monarch, a visit to the House of Lords and the House of Commons, dinner at the residence of the Lord Mayor of London, which was attended by prominent representatives of the British establishment: Foreign Minister Gray, his assistants, Commander-in-Chief of the British Army Kitchener, speaker of the House of Commons Lowther and so on.
Milyukov tried to establish personal contact with the maximum number of influential Britons. He held a confidential meeting with the head of the British Foreign Office, Gray. I discussed with him questions of the post-war reconstruction of the world, the division of territories. Milyukov and Gurko spoke with the Minister of Weapons, Lloyd George. Miliukov visited the liberal minister of commerce Rensiman for breakfast, met with the prominent politician Bexton and others.
Among the important elements of the technology of "soft power" are now called a variety of non-profit, non-governmental organizations, humanitarian funds, friendship societies and similar structures. Formally unrelated to the state and declaring the most good goals, they are ideally suited to cover intelligence, subversive and lobbying activities. There is a lot of talk about this in the context of the Orange Revolutions and the Arab Spring, but there is nothing new here either.
In 1915, the Russian was created in England, in 1916, the Russian-Scottish and Anglo-Russian societies, besides there was a society “Russia” in the British capital. Later, in the days of the February Revolution, a united association of Russian societies appeared in London. In the 1915 year, a committee called "Great Britain - Poland!" Was created, and this structure quickly established contact with representatives of the opposition authorities of the Moscow Military Industrial Committee Smirnov and Ryabushinsky.
In addition, Buchanan promoted the idea of bringing together educational institutions in Russia and Britain, which found a lively response in Russia itself. The Academy of Sciences and a number of domestic universities have developed a set of measures designed to enhance the role of British culture in the life of our country. It was proposed to establish an exchange of teaching staff, publish Anglo-Russian journals, introduce English studies courses into the educational program, award students with research bonuses stories, language and literature of England. The idea was expressed to send young scientists mainly to England and France. Nothing like?
The issue of using “soft power” in the fight against Russian statehood overlaps in part with the Masonic theme. Unfortunately, there are still very few serious historical works on Russian Freemasonry, but all sorts of mystical nonsense around this topic are more than enough. Today, A.I. is deservedly considered to be one of the most authoritative specialists in Russian freemasonry. Serkov, therefore I will use his works “The History of Russian Freemasonry of the 20th Century” and the reference book “Russian Freemasonry. 1731-2000.
Long before the February Revolution in August 1915 and April 1916 of the year, two meetings of the opposition took place in the apartments of Ryabushinsky, Prokopovich and Kuskova (listed persons are masons). The most important question was solved: how to distribute ministerial posts after the overthrow of the king. Practically all the ministers of the Provisional Government were tentatively approved at these two meetings, although this does not mean that they all belonged to the Masonic lodges. In the first composition of the Provisional Government, five of the twelve ministers were Freemasons: N.V. Nekrasov, M.I. Tereshchenko, A.I. Konovalov, A.I. Shingarev, A.F. Kerensky. In addition to them, the mason N.S. Chkheidze, but he refused this appointment. Several masons also became deputy ministers (as they said, comrades ministers): N.K. Volkov, S.D. Urusov, V.A. Vinogradov, A.V. Liverovsky.
It is known that in addition to the Provisional Government, in Russia after the revolution, another center of power arose: the Petrograd Soviet of workers and soldiers' deputies. The period of the coexistence of the Provisional Government and the Petrosoviet is called a dual power, but both of the illegitimate bodies held consultations between themselves, created a contact commission in which members of the Masonic lodges were on both sides as negotiators. From the Provisional Government - Nekrasov and Tereshchenko, from Petrosovet - Chkheidze, Sukhanov and Skobelev. As noted by Serkov, the influence of the Freemasons in the selection of personnel to the prosecutor's office was especially strong. A number of masons also became commissioners of the Provisional Committee of the State Duma.
In the future, the role of the Freemasons only increased. In the new composition of the Provisional Government, free bricklayers got such important positions as the Minister of War and Navy (Kerensky), Minister of Finance (Shingarev), Minister of Labor (Skobelev), Minister of Justice (Pereverzev), Minister of Foreign Affairs (Tereshchenko), Minister of Railways ( Nekrasov), Minister of Trade and Industry (Konovalov).
In the third composition of the Provisional Government of the eighteen ministers already ten were Freemasons. If we proceed from the number of free masons and the importance of the posts they occupied, then this was the peak of the masonic influence on the government of the country in the first post-revolutionary months.
Speaking about the activities of pro-English organizations in Russia, one can not but tell about a prominent mason, MM Kovalevsky. He was born in 1851 year, came from hereditary nobles, graduated from high school with a gold medal. He graduated from Kharkov University, in 21 the year became a candidate of law, then a doctor.
He worked at the University of Berlin, worked in the British Museum, the London archives, personally knew Marx. In 1879, he participated in the work of the first Zemsky congress. He was widely known in the West, was a corresponding member of the French Academy of Sciences, a member of the British Association of Sciences. In 1901, Kovalevsky created the Russian Higher School of Social Sciences in Paris and began to invite lecturers there. Among them were Lenin, Plekhanov, Milyukov, Chernov (a revolutionary who had already been imprisoned by that time), Grushevsky (the developer of the ideology of independence of Ukraine), and many other political figures.
From 1905, Kovalevsky returned to active zemstvo activities, began to publish the newspaper Strana, where the Freemasons Trachevsky, Ivanyukov, Gambarov, Kotlyarevsky, a member of the revolutionary party Dashnaktsutyun Loris-Melikov and so on collaborated with him.
As Serkov notes, in 1906, Kovalevsky, while a Freemason of the 18 degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rule, received permission from the Council of the Order of the Great East of France to open lodges in Russia. The leadership of the first “Kovalevsky lodge” included, in particular, the well-known lawyer V.A. Maklakov and outstanding playwright V.I. Nemirovich-Danchenko. In 1907, from the Great Lodge of France, Kovalevsky received a patent for opening lodges in St. Petersburg and Moscow. In 1908, the Freemason Convention took place (the first meeting was led by Kovalevsky), at which it was decided to organize lodges in major cities across the country.
In parallel, Kovalevsky led the Party of Democratic Reforms, published a lot in the most famous newspapers in Russia, was elected to the Duma, and in 1906, he headed a delegation of deputies at the Inter-Parliamentary Conference in London. In 1907, he entered the State Council, published the magazine “Vestnik Evropy”, led the department of political and legal sciences in the “New Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron”, and was the editor of the “Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Russian Bibliographic Institute Granat”. In 1912-14 - Member of the Central Committee of the Party of Progressists.
In 1915, Kovalevsky starts a new project: he creates a rapprochement with England (OCA). Of course, representatives of the British Embassy did not remain aloof from such an undertaking, Buchanan became an honorary member of the Society, and this is not surprising, since the OCA became the mouthpiece of Anglophil propaganda. Under the auspices of the Society, public lectures and reports were organized, which invariably emphasized the progressive role of Britain. As soon as SLA activities began, Kovalevsky undertook to create another pro-British structure - the English Flag Society (OAF), later renamed the Russian-English Society. Rodzyanko became chairman of the OAF, and Milyukov spoke at the first meeting, and Shingaryov joined them at subsequent events. I will note that Gurko, Maklakov, Tereshchenko and Guchkov were also members of the Russian-English society. All of these people went down in history as Februarylists.
OAF collaborated with Assistant British Military Attache Blair, Naval Officer Grendel, Member of the House of Commons Gemmerde, Secretary of the British Embassy Lindley and, as was to be expected, with Buchanan.
In addition to Buchanan, vigorous activity in Russia was spread out by Lokkart. He was so his for the Russian opposition that he regularly delivered secret orders of opposition organizations (Zemsky Union and the Union of Cities), as well as the Moscow City Council. Of the British who were in Russia, it is worth noting the head of the special counterintelligence mission Samuel Choir. He was distinguished by high professionalism in the field of information processing, had the broadest connections in Russia.
Naturally, journalists from British newspapers also worked in our country. For example, Harold Williams supplied the British Embassy with information from high-ranking Russian oppositionists, was on friendly terms with them, and even married Ariadne Tyrkova, who was part of the leadership of the Cadet Party. The Times correspondents Wilton and Washburn, along with the writer Walpole, were actively promoting English propaganda, and Walpole collaborated with Guchkov.
Worth mentioning is the writer Graham. He did not become a world class classic, but he traveled far and wide across Russia. The correspondent of the Daily Telegraph of Pares was the official informant for the British government.
Peers was a professor and part-time hardened wolf of the special services. As Kolotovkina notes, it was Peers who, in 1916, arranged for Milyukov to go to England under the guise of giving lectures, and in fact to forge links between the Russian opposition and the British establishment. Peyrs’s acquaintance with high-ranking Russian politicians was not limited to Milyukov. He knew Witte, Rodzianko, Guchkov and many others. That was the extent of Britain’s involvement in Russian politics, and this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Shortly before the February Revolution, George Buchanan met with the Chairman of the Duma Rodzianko. Buchanan probed the ground on the political concessions that parliamentarians want from the king. It turned out that we are talking about the so-called responsible government, responsible to the "people", that is, to the Duma. In fact, this would mean the transformation of monarchical Russia into a parliamentary republic.
So Buchanan had the audacity to follow, then come to Nicholas and teach the sovereign how he should lead the country and whom to appoint to key posts. Buchanan acted as a clear lobbyist for the revolutionaries who frantically prepared at that time to overthrow the king. At the same time, Buchanan himself understood that his actions were a gross violation of the rules of conduct of a foreign representative. However, in a conversation with Nikolay Buchanan literally threatened the king with revolution and disaster. Of course, all this was filed in a diplomatic package, under the guise of caring for the tsar and the future of Russia, but the hints of Buchanan were completely transparent and unequivocal.
Ostensibly the limp Nicholas II did not agree to any concessions, and then the opposition tried to come from the other side. At the beginning of 1917, Entente representatives arrived in Petrograd at an allied conference to discuss future military plans. The head of the British delegation was Lord Milner, and a prominent Cadet leader Struve appealed to him. He wrote two letters to the Lord, in which, in fact, he repeated what Rodzianko said to Buchanan.
Struve handed letters to Milner through a British intelligence officer Choir. In turn, Milner did not remain deaf to Struve's arguments and sent a confidential memorandum to Nicholas, in which he supported the demands of the opposition. In the memorandum, Milner praised the activities of Russian public organizations (the Zemsky Union and the Union of Cities) and hinted at the need to provide major positions to people who had previously engaged in private affairs, and did not have experience in government activities!
Of course, the king ignored such absurd advice, and the opposition was again left with nothing. But the pressure on the king did not stop and in the end it was crowned with the victory of state criminals.
We will talk about the technical details of the coup that overthrew Nicholas II in the next article in the “Pre-Revolutionary Russia” series.