Rus­sia marks 100th an­niver­sary of 1917 Bol­she­vik rev­o­lu­tion

New Straits Times - - World -

MOSCOW: 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 for the Soviet Union’s cre­ation.

Here are five key events of 1917 that left in­deli­ble marks on Rus­sia’s peo­ple and lead­ers:

Demon­stra­tors an­gry over the scarcity of food took to the streets of Pet­ro­grad, mod­ern­day Saint Peters­burg, on Feb 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.

While tsar Ni­cholas II’s poorly equipped troops were fight­ing in World War 1, 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 af­ter the ab­di­ca­tion but was quickly over­thrown by the Bol­she­viks.

The new au­thor­i­ties ar­rested the for­mer 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.

Af­ter years of self-im­posed ex­ile in western Europe, rev­o­lu­tion­ary leader Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov — alias Lenin — re­turned to Rus­sia on April 16, 1917, 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.

On the night of Oct 25, 1917 (or Nov 7 by the cur­rent cal­en­dar), the cruiser Aurora 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 from the gov­ern­ment.

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

On Oct 27, 1917 (or Nov 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.


A man hold­ing a por­trait of the last tsar Ni­cholas II dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion of the 143rd an­niver­sary of his birth in cen­tral St Peters­burg on May 19, 2011.

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