Russian revolution timeline
This is the seventh in
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).
The Bolshevik party still
faces state repression, many of its leaders in prison or in hiding.
It is cash-strapped, the circulation of its papers reduced to a
trickle. Nonetheless, its influence is growing again, boosted by its
role in defeating General Kornilov’s coup attempt at the end of
August. The Bolsheviks rebuild links to the troops, epitomised by
Yevgenia Bosh. She tirelessly tours Ukraine frontlines addressing
mass soldiers’ meetings. Soviets increasingly adopt elements of
workers’ control, dictating pay, local supplies and services,
organising militias. Peasant committees distribute land.
1: The Petrograd
Soviet – still under a Menshevik/Social Revolutionary majority –
passes a Bolshevik resolution calling for a workers’ and peasants’
government, by 279 votes to 115. Alexander Kerensky, the prime
minister and war minister, sets up a five-man ‘directory’ to run
2: Soviets in
Finland vote by 700 to 13, with 36 abstentions, for a soviet
4: Trotsky is
released from Kresty prison after Petrograd trade unions bail him
5: The Moscow
Soviet passes a no-confidence vote in the Provisional Government by
335 to 254. The congress of Siberian soviets in Krasnoyarsk renews
its support for the Bolsheviks.
8: Baltic Fleet
sailors demand an immediate armistice, the transfer of land to
peasant committees, and workers’ control of production. The Kyiv
Soviet of workers’ deputies votes 130 to 66 in favour of a soviet
government. Similar resolutions pass in other industrial centres.
9: The Petrograd
Soviet votes no-confidence in its Menshevik/SR executive, and in the
coalition government, by 519 to 414 with 67 abstentions. The Soviet
elects a new executive led by Bolsheviks, Left SRs and
11: The Moscow
Soviet unanimously condemns the state repression of the Bolsheviks.
The Black Sea Fleet adopts the slogan, ‘power to the soviets’, as do
23 regiments of the 12th Army.
Democratic Conference takes place in Petrograd, another attempt by
the Provisional Government to circumvent the soviets and undermine
the Bolsheviks (cf the State Conference, Moscow, 12-15 August).
Among its 1,600-1,775 delegates, there are around 530 SRs, 170
Mensheviks, 136 Bolsheviks, and 55 Trudoviks (pro-Kerensky). Yet it
votes against a new coalition. The government then sets up a
‘provisional council’ but this also rejects the proposal. So it
picks a Council of the Republic (the ‘Pre-Parliament’) due to meet
in early October. This has 550 members, including a large
big-business bloc, alongside 120 SRs, 75 Kadets, 60 Mensheviks –
with 66 Bolsheviks, 30 Internationalist-Mensheviks and some other
lefts. Initially, the Bolshevik Central Committee agrees to
participate – Lenin and Trotsky are opposed.
18: The Tashkent
Soviet overthrows the local government, but Kerensky’s forces take
back control – workers from 40 soviets call a week-long general
strike in protest.
delegates to the Democratic Conference, the party’s CC and its
Petrograd committee meet to discuss the pre-parliament controversy.
The boycott is again rejected, by 77 to 50. This echoes the approach
taken by a leading layer of Bolsheviks during February and March –
before the arrival of Lenin. It also presages the hesitancy of some
to the seizure of power in October. Rank-and-file members understand
the boycott call much more readily. In Ukraine, for instance, the
Bolsheviks’ Kyiv committee opposes it – a small minority around
Yevgenia Bosch backs the boycott – but a city-wide conference adopts
it by an overwhelming majority.
23: Lenin again
writes in favour of the boycott, arguing that the Bolsheviks must
prioritise building support in the soviets, trade unions, the army
and among the masses.
24: Kerensky forms
the third coalition government, including ten Menshevik and SR
ministers. Rail workers strike over pay.
25: Trotsky is
elected chair of the Petrograd Soviet.
Towards the end of
September the Moscow municipal elections record a significant shift:
the Kadets receive 101,000 votes (compared to 109,000 in June), the
SRs slip to 54,000 (from 375,000), the Mensheviks get only 16,000
(from 76,000), while the Bolsheviks win 198,000 votes (from 75,000).