Russia is dangerously unstable again in July 1917. With a crisis brewing in the Provisional Government, and WWI front line situation deteriorating, the Bolsheviks are gaining momentum.
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It is July 14. It seems barely two weeks ago that War Minister Alexander Kerensky’s daring offensive against the Central Powers could swing things in favor of the Provisional Government, which has badly been losing credit with the public, following a series of broken promises and undemocratic measures enacted after the fall of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. With his July 1 offensive against the German Empire and Austria-Hungary in the Great War, Kerensky hopes to restore public trust in the government.
We’re establishing a special commission to address the terrible situation with deserters and increase the number of conscripts #1917LIVE
— Provisional Govt (@ProvGovt_1917) July 9, 2017
As the war minister appears unwilling to back down from the widely-unpopular army assault, we are seeing anti-war sentiment on the frontlines closely match that of the troops and civilians in the capital, Petrograd.
To quell any potential rebellions on the front line, the government has dissolved all fighting regiments showing allegiance to Bolshevism, which seeks to end Russian participation in the war and transfer government power to the Soviets – the councils of soldiers’ and workers’ deputies.
Meanwhile, huge setbacks are being suffered on the battlefield, despite a promising start to the daring offensive: reinforcements don’t arrive, troop morale, as well as discipline, continue to deteriorate.
To make matters worse, the government tries to silence oppositional activity and dissent, carrying out crackdowns, including the Durnovo mansion, serving as headquarters of the anarchist movement and other activists.
After a failed eviction, 29 factories in Petrograd strike on June 21 to protest the undemocratic measures. Even the Bolsheviks – who have been doing their utmost to keep their supporters from getting physical – are now visibly failing to contain popular outrage.
Worse still, the fiercely anti-war working population of Petrograd felt stabbed in the back at a socialist convention where the Social-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks dominate the stage. Throwing their support behind the government’s war, they all but confirm Lenin’s view – that they are merely a more palatable version of the bourgeoisie-run Provisional Government. This dashes every hope of Russia getting back to the business of restoring the country.
Socialists-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks must realize they will be held accountable for the looming economic catastrophe #1917LIVE
— Vladimir Lenin (@VLenin_1917) July 11, 2017
Moreover, the two parties propose a July 1 multi-party event in support of the war, in hopes of restoring trust in national unity. But the pro-government atmosphere ends up dwarfed by a crowd of 500,000 people rallying behind the Bolsheviks with cries of “All the power to the Soviets.” Multiple cities, including Moscow, Novgorod, Minsk, Kharkov and many others, also join in with their own rallies. The demonstration in Petrograd ends in bloodshed. As Lenin aptly put it: “A crisis of epic proportions is sweeping over Russia…”
The government is under added pressure after three centrist ministers resign in protest over Kerensky’s concessions on Ukrainian autonomy.
Compounding the issue are problems at home: there are catastrophic shortages of food and other items. Deliveries of basic foodstuffs to the capital are held up due to military transport receiving priority, while producers hoard flour and grain in light of the government freezing the prices.
There is a feeling among the populace that another government crisis is looming – a big one. The coalition government is showing signs of failure due to disagreements. Furthermore, every step by Kerensky to smear or otherwise undermine Lenin and his cohorts seems to play into their hands. That is despite the party securing precious few seats in the Petrograd and Moscow Dumas.