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Russia's 1917 revolutions in five key moments
Russia's 1917 revolutions in five key moments

Here are five key events of 1917 that left indelible marks on the collective memory of Russia's people and leaders:

World Bulletin / News Desk

Russia this year marks the 100th anniversary of the 1917 February and October revolutions that saw the Bolsheviks come to power, dismantling the Tsarist empire and paving the way to the Soviet Union's creation.

- Riots erupt -

Demonstrators angry over the scarcity of food took to the streets of Petrograd, modern-day Saint Petersburg, on February 23, 1917, according to the Julian calendar -- or March 8 by the current calendar.

Supported by thousands of women and men, the protest quickly transformed into a mass strike that the army was called in to contain.

But when the troops began to take the side of the protesters, tsar Nicholas II was forced to make concessions.

- Nicholas II abdicates -
While tsar Nicholas II's poorly equipped troops were busy fighting in World War I, protesters at home demanded bread and condemned the monarchy.

The last tsar abdicated on March 2, 1917, or March 15 by the current calendar, as he watched his conflict-torn country spiral into chaos.

A provisional government took over shortly after the abdication but was quickly overthrown by the Bolsheviks.

The new authorities arrested the ex-tsar and his family and moved them to Siberia and Yekaterinburg in the Urals where the Bolsheviks shot them in 1918 and hid their remains.

- Lenin returns -
After years of self-imposed exile in western Europe, revolutionary leader Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov -- alias Lenin -- returned to Russia on April 16, 2017, or April 3 by the current calendar, when he heard news of the abdication.

With the help of Germany -- with whom Russia was at war at the time -- Lenin and other dissidents travelled to Petrograd by crossing Scandinavia by train.

Upon his arrival Lenin addressed Bolshevik supporters, denouncing the new provisional government and those calling for reconciliation with the monarchists.

A few months later Lenin went into hiding and fled to Finland when Bolshevik organisations were outlawed by the provisional government.

Lenin returned to Russia later that year to lead the October revolution.

- Assault on Winter Palace -
On the night of October 25, 1917 (or November 7 by the current calendar), the Aurora cruiser fired a blank shot at the Winter Palace, signalling the start of an assault on the tsar's former home and the seat of the provisional government.

Led by Lenin, Bolshevik forces took control of Petrograd's key infrastructure and government buildings before bloodlessly taking the Winter Palace.

Soviet propagandists later presented more dramatic reenactments of an event historians say unfolded with nearly no resistance by the government.

Today the Winter Palace is home to the Hermitage Museum, which houses more than one million artworks.

- Lenin's government -
On October 27, 1917 (or November 9 by the current calendar), Lenin formed a body known as the Council of People's Commissars -- or "Sovnarkom" -- that laid the foundation of the Soviet Union. Future Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and revolutionary Leon Trotsky were council members.

Lenin had refused to share power with moderate leftists who had resisted the Bolshevik coup, leading him to create security forces that executed and imprisoned enemies of the regime.

Lenin's government went on to fight a bloody civil war against anti-Bolshevik White Army forces. The Soviet Union was established in 1922 after their defeat.



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