13/3/1917 A new order starts to emerge in revolutionary Petrograd

Fighting continues in Petrograd between the revolutionaries and their opponents. Most of the city’s garrison has mutinied and joined the revolution, but some officers and loyal troops are continuing to resist, as are the police. The revolutionaries have the upper hand and the resistance of the loyalists has an increasingly desperate quality to it.

One loyalist holdout is the Astoria Hotel, from which snipers have been firing on the crowds below. Today it is stormed by revolutionaries, a mix of armed civilians and mutinous soldiers. They go from room to room, dealing summary justice to any counter-revolutionaries they find.
The rebels also storm the city’s jails, notably the Peter & Paul Fortress, Petrograd’s Bastille. The jails’ prisoners are set free, including the ringleaders of the first mutiny on the 11th. But most of the prisoners are apolitical common criminals. They take the lead in encouraging the storming of police stations and court houses, and then the destruction of the records they contain.

On the political front, the Petrograd Soviet established yesterday reforms itself now as a united council of workers and soldiers representatives in the Tauride Palace. Its executive committee is made up mostly of members of various leftwing parties that are now able to operate freely in the city. The first order of the Soviet is issued to the army. Rank and file soldiers are now to be treated with respect by their officers. Soldiers are to elect representatives. And no order is to be obeyed if it conflicts with a decree of Petrograd Soviet.

Meanwhile, in the same building as the Petrograd Soviet, the Duma is also meeting. As part of his attempts to bring Petrograd back under control, the Tsar has ordered this troublesome parliament to dissolve itself. Some members are wary of defying his order and fear the disorder sweeping the city. But in defiance of the Tsar, the more daring members agree to form a Temporary Committee for the Restoration of Order, partly because they fear the consequences of a power vacuum. Its members are considerably less radical than those of the Soviet’s executive. Petrograd now has an emerging provisional government operating completely outside the Tsarist chain of command.

image sources:

Revolutionaries fire on the police (Wikipedia)

The bloodstained lobby of the Astoria Hotel after it had been secured by the revolutionaries (Alexander Palace; from Blood Stained Russia by Donald Thompson (1918))

The Temporary Committee (Wikipedia) (Note: the text on source page is largely in Cyrillic so it is possible this is a photograph of some other body entirely).

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