4/5/1917 Unrest continues in Petrograd

It is becoming apparent that the Russian Revolution did not end with the overthrow of the Tsar but remains an ongoing process. The Provisional Government in Petrograd struggles to assert its authority over a fractious nation. Many see the Petrograd Soviet as a more legitimate body than Prince Lvov‘s government, with radical elements hoping that the council of workers and soldiers will seize power.

The actions of members of the Provisional Government do not always endear them to the masses. The Petrograd Soviet is supporting an end to the war, based on a peace without annexations or indemnities. The Provisional Government has agreed to formally endorse this peace offensive, but when the Soviet’s declaration of war aims is sent to foreign embassies, Milyukov, the foreign minister, inserts an addendum saying that Russia remains committed to a decisive victory and will stand by its allies. This undercuts the Soviet proposal and implies that Russia remains committed to the secret deals negotiated by the Tsarist government.

The result is uproar. Radicals take to the streets in Petrograd. Armed revolutionary soldiers hope that the Petrograd Soviet will overthrow the Provisional Government and assume power. Fighting breaks out between the demonstrators and reactionary elements.

Kornilov, the Petrograd garrison commander, wants to deploy loyal troops to clear the streets. But the Provisional Government fears civil war, as do the leaders of the Petrograd Soviet, who also have no desire to assume the reigns of government. The Soviet leaders order the demonstrators to disperse. They meekly obey. Prince Lvov meanwhile enters into negotiations with the Menshevik Irakli Tsereteli, a leading figure in the Soviet. Defusing the situation, the Soviet’s executive and the the Provisional Government issue a joint declaration repudiating Milyukov’s note. Lvov also promises Tsereteli that if the Soviets formally join his government then he will arrange for Milyukov’s sacking.

image source:

Demonstrating soldiers in Petrograd (World Socialist Web Site)

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