Russian revolution timeline - June 1917
This is the fifth part
of our series on the events of 1917. Dates are given in the old
style Julian calendar used in Russia at the time. This was 13 days
earlier than the Gregorian calendar (adopted in Russia in 1918).
Russia is on rations,
food supplies to the troops and towns running low – Petrograd,
Moscow and other major cities receive 10% of the grain they need.
The government, a coalition of capitalists and right-wing
socialists, has failed to deliver on the promises made during the
February revolution. Strikes against factory closures and land
seizures by peasants increase. The influence and membership of the
Bolshevik party is growing – from 15,000 in the capital Petrograd at
the end of April to 82,000 by the end of June.
Early June: Former
US secretary of state, Elihu Root, on an official visit to
Petrograd, ramps up pressure on the Provisional Government to
intensify the war. He sums it up bluntly: "No war, no loans!"
By-elections to the soviets see gains for the Bolsheviks, now the
largest party in the Moscow Soviet with 206 deputies – the
Mensheviks (right-wing socialists) have 176, the peasant-based
Social Revolutionary party 110.
3: The first
All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies
begins in Petrograd. Of the 822 voting delegates, 285 are SRs, 248
Mensheviks, 105 Bolsheviks, and 32 Menshevik Internationalists. At
the congress, Lenin calls for measures against bosses who are
locking out tens of thousands of workers in an attempt to weaken the
movement and derail the revolution. A strike-wave erupts among the
most exploited, mainly unskilled workers.
8: Sailors on the
Sevastopol battleship arrest their officers.
9: Following a
conference of workers’ reps, the Bolsheviks’ main newspaper Pravda
calls for a demonstration on the 10th in opposition to the Menshevik
and SR coalition with the capitalists, and to end the war. The
Central Council of Factory and Shop Committees backs the decision,
as does Trotsky’s group, the Mezhraiontsy. Sections of workers and
soldiers in Petrograd are calling for the seizure of power but Lenin
and Trotsky understand that this is too far ahead of the mood in the
rest of Russia. They maintain the need to win majority support in
the soviets for a socialist alternative.
10: The Petrograd
Soviet executive demands that the demo is called off – the
Bolsheviks argue in defence of the right to peaceful protest. The
Mensheviks and SRs get agreement at the all-Russia congress to ban
demonstrations for three days. Confronted with this ultimatum, the
Bolsheviks decide not to go ahead. The Putilov factory (40,000
workers) and the First Machine Gun Regiment reluctantly agree to
postpone the action, but only after lengthy discussion with
Bolshevik party reps.
11: The Mensheviks
step up the campaign against the Bolsheviks, falsely claiming they
are German government collaborators. The Mensheviks attempt to
retake the initiative by calling demonstrations on the 18th.
16: War minister
Alexander Kerensky orders a new military offensive in Galicia
(central-eastern Europe) against Austro-Hungarian and German forces
– stocks and shares rise on the Paris Bourse! The offensive begins
on the 18th, eventually causing 400,000 Russian casualties (150,000
18: The day of
action backfires on the Mensheviks and SRs, turning into mass
support for the Bolsheviks. Up to half a million march in Petrograd
demanding ‘all power to the soviets!’ and ‘down with the offensive!’
Similar protests take place in Moscow, Kyiv, Kharkov and elsewhere.
Anarchists in the capital attack prisons freeing several hundred
20: The Petrograd
Soviet passes a resolution greeting the Russian army’s initial
advances by 472 votes to 271, with 39 abstentions. The size of the
opposition marks a leftward shift, with Bolsheviks, Menshevik
Internationalists and left-wing SR members now making up two-fifths
of the soviet.
21: The machine
gun regiment refuses to fight for imperialist war aims. Many
soldiers are arrested, others step up pressure on the Bolsheviks to
demonstrations, whipped up by pro-war propaganda, lead to scuffles.
Far-right groups are formed – the Military League, the Union of the
Cavaliers of St George, the Volunteers’ Division and others make
military coup plans. Bolshevik newspapers warn the garrisons of the
danger of being provoked into premature armed conflict.
23: A conference
of representatives of the factory and shop committees, the Central
Trade Union Bureau and more than 70 factories agrees to back the
Bolsheviks’ approach to building the revolutionary movement.
Bolshevik-led soviet in Petrograd’s industrial Vyborg district
adopts a resolution opposing the war policy, and condemning the
Mensheviks and SRs.
26: The Grenadier
Guard Regiment returns from the front and joins with anarchists at
the Kronstadt naval base.
28: Trotsky steps
up efforts to merge the Mezhraiontsy (Inter-District Organisation)
with the Bolshevik party.
Under Lenin’s leadership
(backed by Trotsky) the Bolshevik party’s programme sets it apart
from other political groups. Its class-struggle policies to fight
job losses, for the eight-hour day and workers’ control win over
industrial centres and working-class districts. It openly opposes
the military offensive and has important bases of support in the
armed forces. Constant vilification in the capitalist press and by
establishment politicians reinforces the view that the Bolsheviks
are the only ones fighting consistently for the workers, soldiers
and peasants. Their successes have marked them out, however, and
counter-revolutionary forces are moving against them with ever more