The February Revolution

Strikes and riots broke out in Petrograd because of a desperate shortage of food and fuel due to poor transportation facilities. The army was given orders to restore normalcy but the soldiers mutinied and sided with the demonstrators. The Czar ordered the dissolution of Duma.The Duma leaders refused to obey the order and the order and the czar discovered that he could no longer enforce government. This became a legal reality after Czar Nicolas abdicated in favour of his brother Michael who too gave up the crown.

A provisional government was set up to administer until a Constituent Assembly could be elected. The new government was headed by the liberal prince George Lovi and included Paul Milinkov as foreign minister and Alexander Kerensky as minister for justice. This ministry proclaimed freedom of speech,press and assembly;declared amnesty for political and religions offences,recognized legal equality of all citizens without social,religious or racial discrimination and passed labout legislation.But despite these reforms the provisional government could not establish itself.For 8 months it tried in vain to provide adequate administration and at the end it collapsed helplessly.

Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, and Social Revolutionaries

The period between March and November was a time of struggle for power between the provisional government and the Soviets. The provisional govt had failed to consider two things which the people wanted the most-peace and land. While they pleaded for patience, the soviets were winning the masses over by demanding peace and immediate distribution of land. The Soviets or the councils had mass support. The soviet movement spread rapidly through the country developing into a grass root movement and challenging the authority of government in Petrograd. During the early stages the members elected to the Soviets were mostly Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviks.

The Bolsheviks were comparatively insignificant till the return of Lenin who issued his famous April Thesis demanding immediate peace,land to the peasants and all power to the Soviets. These demands aroused great opposition between the Soviets amongst Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks and even some Bolsheviks.