110 years ago in Moscow, a week and a half, bloody battles began. 7 (20) December 1905 was dead in Moscow, enterprises stopped. The strike covered more than half of the plants and factories. It was joined by representatives of the intelligentsia, technical staff and part of the employees of the City Council. Soon a disturbance began in Moscow: revolutionaries killed police officers and government officials, plundered shopkeepers on the sly, and soon clashes between revolutionary squads and troops developed into fierce battles. It was possible to restore order only after additional forces and loyal to the authorities were transferred from St. Petersburg to Moscow. 18 (31) December 1905, the rebellion was crushed.
However, the Moscow Uprising and the Revolution 1905-1907. On the whole, they showed the entire depth of internal contradictions in the Russian Empire and its weakness before the influence of external forces, which actively sponsored and organizationally supported the revolutionary forces. Only the loyalty of the majority of law enforcement officers (police, Cossacks) and the army of the tsarist government was able to suppress the beginning unrest. The first wave of the revolution in Russia was shot down. Unfortunately, the central government was not able to carry out a series of fundamental changes and eliminate the channels of influence of Western powers and structures on Russian society. And having got involved in the First World War, the tsarist regime buried most of the cadre army, the only force capable of holding back the wave of chaos. As a result, the geopolitical disaster of 1917 of the year became inevitable.
Smoot in the Empire
In 1905, the contradictions that had long been accumulating in the empire, thanks to the skillful actions of the provocateurs, broke free. For several weeks after Bloody Sunday 9 in January 1905, the organizations of revolutionaries and constitutionalists strained their propaganda and agitation to the limit, calling for mass protest. The answer was impressive. He sounded, first of all, from hundreds of thousands of workers of the Russian Empire. They responded with massive strikes against the massacre in the capital.
The reaction of workers across the regions was uneven: restrained in Central Russia and more active on the outskirts. In Moscow, the strike was lethargic and quickly dried up. In Petersburg, the strike a few days later began to decline. Of all the provincial centers of the Center, a city-wide strike took place only in Saratov. And Warsaw mass demonstrations escalated into the construction of barricades, a clash with the police and the army. During the clashes on both sides, more than 200 people were killed and wounded. Strikes and clashes spread to other parts of the Kingdom of Poland, especially to industrial Лód, where there were even more killed, wounded and arrested. As a result, in the Polish provinces passed as many stocks as in the rest of Russia.
In the Baltic provinces and cities of the North-West, where many Jews lived, who actively participated in the revolutionary movement, the response was also powerful. Political strikes, demonstrations, melee fights, cavalry attacks and the use of army units took place in Riga, Mitau and Libau. At the same time, strikes took place in Revel, Vilna, Bialystok and many towns-towns. A similar picture was observed in the Caucasus. From Tiflis riots spread to the whole of Georgia. Mass demonstrations and armed clashes occurred in Finland.
The intelligentsia (it was mostly liberal and pro-Western in the Russian Empire) and the middle class actively supported the workers and supported the constitution. At all meetings, assemblies proclaimed constitutional demands and condemned the government for repression. In rural areas, traditionally more conservative, a wave of unrest began later in February. In the same month, the militants of the socialist revolutionaries (Social Revolutionaries) made a successful attempt on the Moscow Governor-General, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich.
The royal court was in extreme stress. Strict security measures and fear of terrorists made the king himself a hostage in Tsarskoe Selo. Tsar's advisers and dignitaries sharply disagreed on how to stop the revolutionary wave: the moderates favored concessions, reforms, and parliament; supporters of the "hard line" demanded tougher repression. News from the Japanese front showed the need to stabilize the internal position of the empire. 18 February, the king issued a decree on the need to call on "the best people of Russia", representing its population to consult on improving legislation. Interior Minister Bulygin had to work on this issue. The Minister of Agriculture Ermolov suggested that Nicholas II immediately take measures to increase the land holdings of the peasants before it was too late. At the same time, new army units were sent throughout the empire to strengthen the city garrisons and suppress agrarian unrest. The number of arrests of oppositionists has increased.
During the first half of the year, the whole empire was covered with hotbeds of protests, strikes, riots and riots. Landlord lands and forests were seized, estates were burning. A series of impressive and stubborn strikes occurred in Ivanovo, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinoslavl, Odessa, Belostok, Kovno, Tiflis, etc. However, the nationwide figures of protest activity did not reach even half of January’s 1905. The attempt to organize an all-Russia May Day demonstration failed. At the same time, the labor movement expanded and strengthened. The strength and radicalism of the organizations of the Russian middle class and the workers of the trade unions grew. In May, the Union of Unions was established to unite all professional organizations of the middle and working class. The Union initially had 16 from a wide variety of organizations: from unions of journalists and engineers, agronomists and lawyers to an association for the equality of Jews and the emancipation of women. All active members and leading speakers professed different views - both liberal and socialist. They all demanded democratization and constitution. All organizations eventually became more radical. Even the priests began to demand reforms and the restoration of the elected patriarchate.
At the end of May - June 1905, it seemed that Russia was on the verge of a revolutionary explosion. The labor movement intensified (there were street battles in cities in Poland), peasant uprisings again reached the highest degree of intensity. Death fleet in the Tsushima battle shocked all of Russia. The supporters of the autocracy were shocked, the revolutionaries and the liberal intelligentsia were gloating, the fermentation intensified in the fleet. In June there was an uprising of the battleship “Potemkin” (“God grant that this difficult and shameful story is more likely to end”). Other ships, though not revolted, refused to execute the order to fire and destroy the rebellious battleship. Even in the army, pockets of revolution appeared. A convention of Cossack officers, the main striking force of the then law enforcement agencies, asked the tsar to bestow a constitution on Russia!
However, this time the immunity of the empire was able to win up. And revolutionaries lacked unity, organization, experience and weapons. However, the main role still played the military-protective institutions of the empire. Foci of unrest in the army and navy were suppressed, the instigators put on trial or fled. The army, the Cossacks and the police retained their strength and loyalty to the oath. Those citizens and peasants (“Black Hundreds”), who were tired of the mess in the country, began to connect to them. Arrests and punitive expeditions struck hard at the revolutionary groups. The pogroms of the radicals and Jews, with the support of conservative-minded masses, became a sign of the mobilization of the immunity of the Russian Empire, which could still mobilize forces to repel the revolution and unrest.
In August-September 1905, the revolution went into decline. 6 August, the Minister of Foreign Affairs issued a decree convening the Duma. It was supposed to become a deliberative body, which was elected by indirect voting on electoral curiae representing various social groups and groups of owners. 23 August peace was signed with Japan. The revolutionaries were clearly inferior in power and organization of the tsarist bureaucracy, the army and the police, as well as the “black hundred” (right) masses. In addition, the liberal part was gradually satisfied with the new opportunities.
However, the revolutionaries continued to try to overthrow the autocracy. In this they relied on the West. Overcoming borders and distances, apparently with the loyal attitude of Western law enforcement agencies, former prisoners and immigrants hurriedly returned to Russia to join the fight. Newcomers immediately involved in the fight. The budgets of revolutionary organizations grew tenfold (which is also explained by the support of Western masters), providing resources for printing campaign materials and buying weapons. The Russian Empire was flooded with millions of leaflets, pamphlets, books and other materials calling for the destruction of the autocracy. The three main revolutionary organizations: the Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, as well as dozens of regional and national organizations that worked on the collapse of the empire after 1917, would be one of the leading forces of decay (again with the support of the West and part of the East - Japan), quickly acquired a permanent structure, strengthened internal discipline, recruited new members and activists, improved their programs and gained tactical experience. Numerous new opposition groups have appeared throughout the country.
Despite this, all revolutionaries were very far from penetrating into the "deep layers" of the people. According to rough estimates, there were only about 25 thousand active revolutionaries in the Russian Empire. In the peak year (1906), the number of members of the socialist parties who were in favor of changing the autocracy reached about 190 thousand people. The Socialist Revolutionaries were the largest group - 60 thousand people, approximately 44 thousand were Social Democrats - Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, some were inferior to the Jewish Bund and Latvian Social Democrats - 36,5 thousand people, several thousand people were different (Social Revolutionaries) - maximalists, anarchists, etc.). The number of people who had military training was in the hundreds. And the main cadres of the revolutionaries were in large cities, in the countryside they almost had no support.
Only the weakness of power gave revolutionaries a chance of success. The state apparatus and the ruling class have greatly degraded over the past decades, have been demoralized, have lost their will. The authorities feared that the army would let them down, as almost all the soldiers were recruited from the peasants, and the agrarian riots caused by the long-standing agrarian issue were gaining strength. This led to the fact that the possibility of the emergence of a major hotbed of the uprising in large industrial cities and ethnic margins was preserved.
Therefore, in September 1905, the next revolutionary wave began to rise. The mass protest began with the opposition’s indignation at the very idea of the deliberative Duma. Most liberals joined the revolutionaries again. This led to the consolidation of the opposition in a united front. Socialists of all stripes, liberals, nationalists of the suburbs, non-party activists - all demanded a real parliament. 27 August, the government restored university autonomy, abolished in the 1890-ies. In September, the students decided to stop the strike, but instead of returning to school, they transferred the premises of the universities to the use of the opposition. Thus, in each university city, especially in Moscow and St. Petersburg, unique “islands” of the opposition, places of constant meetings of oppositionists, party leaders and non-party workers and middle class representatives, appeared. The police had no right to suppress these “islands of freedom”, and the professorship reacted tolerantly.
By the end of the month, small circles of revolutionaries had grown stronger and more widespread. In early October, a false rumor about the arrest of trade union delegates prompted the All-Russian Railway Union (it was located in Moscow and was under the influence of the Social Revolutionaries) to call for a political strike. This paralyzed almost all railway traffic. Union of Unions supported the All-Russian Railway Union. Solidarity strikes quickly spread to other industries, services and the free profession. By October 17 launched a nationwide strike. It was attended by the majority of industrial workers (about 1,5 million people), employees (about 200 thousand people), as well as the majority of people who considered themselves free professions.
This strike shook Russia. For Russia, and for the whole world, it was the first real nationwide strike, in which the majority of industrial workers, employees and intelligentsia of the empire came out in support of political demands. Both the center and the outskirts of the empire were involved in the strike. A Council of Workers' Deputies was formed in the capital. The Executive Committee of the Council quickly became an alternative authority in the city. The Council of the Soviets was cast aside. The Soviets also appeared in Moscow, Rostov, Odessa, Ivanovo-Voznesensk, etc. Peasant unrest began in the South of Russia, went out of control of the outskirts of the empire.
The whole colossal machine of the empire has stalled due to the sudden cessation of communications and transport. Governors and officials did not receive orders, it was not clear to the police what to do next. The transportation of the army units was disrupted. Even the daily procedures of royal rule through ministerial audiences and the signing of decrees were upset. The habitual order disintegrated before our eyes.
There was a split at the top. October 14 St. Petersburg Governor-General, Comrade of the Minister of the Interior, police chief Dmitry Trepov ordered "not to spare the ammunition" for "suppressing the rebellion." Witte, in his report to the king, summarized the situation as a direct choice between military dictatorship and constitutional reforms. A few days later, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, the uncle of the tsar, the commander of the guard and the main candidate for the role of military dictator, tearfully asked the tsar to accept proposals for peaceful concessions.
October 17 published the official text of the royal manifesto that Russia is granted freedom of speech, assembly, and organizations. The Duma increased in status, transformed from a consultative to a legislative body. In a memorandum published at the same time, Witte defined the goal of the reform as the creation of a “legal system,” that is, the autocracy was planned to be abolished by default. And Witte, as an agent of Western influence, sought to solve this problem. The Russian autocracy, which personified the unity and power of the Russian civilization and the Russian people, was dangerous for the masters of the West.
At the same time, an amnesty was announced for many political prisoners, and the democratic constitution of Finland was restored (it was terminated in 1899). A cabinet was created (instead of the previous order, in which each minister was approved personally by the king and was responsible only to him). Trepov resigned. Witte became the first in stories the country’s prime minister in charge of reform.
The surprise of the public was strong. Many did not expect the king to give in or give in so soon. As a result, there was a split between those who believed that reform should be given a chance and those who set as their goal the complete destruction of autocracy and the creation of a republic. The radicals tried to continue the general strike. However, most of the strikers celebrated a political victory and returned to normal life.
Soon the response wave began. The army and the police restored order. Autocracy actively supported the right, the Black Hundred elements. The loyalists of the metropolitan suburbs, the provinces, thousands of small proprietors, merchants, artisans, minor officials and lower nobility, police, part of the working class and the masses of peasants reacted with fury and anxiety to the activity of the revolutionaries, to what looked like reconciliation of the state and rioters. A significant part of the empire's population was still ready to support the tsar and the authorities, rather than passively looking at the fact that there is a change of orders and the collapse of the “old Russia” (as it will be in 1917 year). It was the core of the Russian people, not belonging to the privileged strata of the nobility, to the rich merchants, industrialists, bankers, pro-Western intellectuals, from which the revolutionaries emerged. It was the “black hundred,” on whose work the empire rested. The people responded to the revolutionary wave with pogroms, which in some places were supported by the police and local authorities. The radical intelligentsia, representatives of the socialist parties, students, Jews and other foreigners, in whom they saw "alien", were smashed.
Several mass right-wing organizations were created, such as the Union of the Russian People. They actively supported autocracy and at the same time had in their programs very sensible proposals for reforming the country. Among the right-wing were leading intellectuals of Russia, who quite correctly predicted the development of the empire, unless decisive, radical measures were taken to transform it. Unfortunately, the king and the government could not really rely on the people to do what Stalin and his commissars would do during the first five-year plans (the revolution from above).
Left forces tried to continue the revolution. October 26 revolted sailors of Kronstadt. Over the next several months, a number of army and naval units attempted to rebel or carry out punitive functions. So, from 11 (24) November to 16 (29) November 1905, there was an armed uprising of Black Sea Fleet sailors and soldiers of the Sevastopol garrison, port workers ("Sevastopol fire"). However, these performances were generally spontaneous and short-lived. Attempts by the revolutionary parties to manage them failed.
The difficult situation was in the village. The peasant revolt overtook more than half of the European part of Russia. The October Manifesto did not say anything about land reform. But on November 3, a new royal manifesto came out, canceling the remnants of 1861’s redemption payments and expanding the activities of the Peasant Bank in order to facilitate the purchase of land by peasants. At the same time, repressions hit the village. However, at the same time, the two most influential representatives of the conservative wing among the tsarist advisors, Trepov and Dubasov, proclaimed the need for immediate agrarian reform. They even expressed their willingness to part with part of their land holdings. That is, the understanding of the need for fundamental changes in the life of the peasantry was, for the peasants were the main part of the empire's population.
To be continued ...