The two events that are primarily associated with the Russian Revolution are the February Revolution and the October Revolution.
The February Revolution
The February Revolution developed out of street riots and other violent but spontaneous demonstrations at Petrograd which is now known as St. Petersburg. When the riots and demonstrations took place, the Tsar, Nicholas II was visiting the World War I troops away from the capital. Tsar Nicholas II was removed from power during the February revolution. However, the wishes of a large section of the Russian people were not expressed during this revolution as the uprising was limited to only the Petrograd city. After this revolution, all those who captured power in the Petrograd Soviet and the provisional government favored a rule that was generally not democratic.
February 22, 1917 – To visit troops, Nicholas II leaves for Petrograd.
February 23, 1917 – In Petrograd, a demonstration for International Women’s Day is held.
February 24, 1917 – All over the capital, massive demonstrations and strikes occur.
February 25, 1917 – The unrest in Petrograd continues. To stop the riots, the military receives orders from Nicholas II. A ‘Workers Soviet’ is set up when the Mensheviks meet.
February 26, 1917 – Between the police and troops, there is firing. In the army’s local regiment, mass mutiny is initiated.
February 27, 1917 – Around eighty thousand troops mutiny and begin looting on a large scale.
February 28, 1917 – Separate gatherings of the Worker’s Soviet and Duma happen. For the establishment of a new state and restoration of order decisions are taken.
March 2, 1917 – The throne is abdicated by Nicholas II and a new state is established.
Main People Involved
Alexander Kerensky - A Petrograd Soviet and provisional government member- after the abdication of Nicholas II, political power was wielded by him,.
Nicholas II – With the February Revolution, Nicholas II became the last Tsar in Russia to abdicate.
February Revolution – An Assessment
This was a spontaneous event. In the past, many mass demonstrations had taken place and would have ended in a similar way had it not been for the intervention of the military. For the way it had happened there wasn’t any oversight or plan. Only few dedicated revolutionaries from Russia were involved. There was a lot of peaceful competition for power, between the political groups. Even if Petrograd Soviet and the provisional government did not agree completely about the direction Russia should have taken, they still managed to cooperate with each other. The other political parties who were rivals also developed attitudes that were cooperative as well. The situation changed with Lenin’s arrival in April 1917 in Russia.
The October Revolution
The other name for the October Revolution which was a much more deliberate event is the Bolshevik Revolution. People in a small group orchestrated this event. The rule of the Soviet Union and the interim provisional government that was established earlier got overturned during this revolution. The coup which took just half a year’s preparation was led by the Bolsheviks who were viewed as a group of extremists. When in April 1917 the serious efforts started, the group hardly got any kind of support. They had a larger base by October 1917. Within the countryside they continued as a minority and later majority support was built by them in Petrograd and many of the urban areas.
After October, the Bolsheviks realized that without making any compromise about the principles and power sharing with the rest of the parties it as not possible for them to maintain power in a system that was based on elections. Due to this, in January 1918, this democratic process was abandoned and they made a declaration that they represented the proletariat dictatorship. The Russian Civil War broke out in response to this during the summer of 1918 which continued right till 1920.
August 31, 1917 - Majority is achieved in Petrograd Soviet by the Bolsheviks
September 5, 1917 – Majority is achieved in the Moscow Soviet by the Bolsheviks
October 10, 1917 – The Bolshevik Central Committee and Lenin make a decision about proceeding with the revolution.
October 23, 1917 – All Bolshevik newspapers shut down due to the action taken by the provisional government.
October 24, 1917 – Junkers are deployed by the provisional government and the city’s government buildings are taken over by Bolshevik troops.
October 25, 1917 – Alexander Kerensky makes an escape to Petrograd.
October 26, 1917 – In the early morning arrests of the provisional government are made. A Decree on Land and Decree on Peace are issued by Lenin. The People’s Commissar’s Soviet is approved by the Congress with the membership of all-Bolsheviks as the new provisional government.
Main People Involved
Alexander Kerensky – He was the provisional government’s Prime Minister. During the revolution he fled from Russia and first lived in Europe and then in America.
Vladimir Lenin – After the October Revolution, he was a Bolshevik leader of Russia. He issued the Decree on Land and Decree on Peace.
Lev Kamenev –He was a Bolshevik leader who did not agree to Lenin’s plans.
Grigory Zinoviev – As a Bolshevik leader, he voted against the revolution and sided Kamenev.
Assessment Of The October Revolution
To ensure that the great socialist revolution in October appeared heroic and colorful, for decades the government of the Soviets went to great lengths, but it was an anticlimactic and mundane event in many ways. There was no resistance from the provisional government, hardly any bloodshed took place and only a few people from Russia noticed or cared for the changes that took place in the governments. Very soon this October Revolution would prove to be an event of the cataclysmic type once there was clarity in the earthshaking effect it would have on not only Russia but the rest of the world. Even if the Russian Revolution may have not been bloodless initially, ultimately it would cost numerous Russian lives thus giving the country a shock, so much so that it was not able to come to terms with whatever had happened.