Russian Revolution of 1917
Revolution that overthrew the imperial government and placed the Bolsheviks in power. Increasing governmental corruption, the reactionary policies of Tsar Nicholas II, and catastrophic Russian losses in World War I contributed to widespread dissatisfaction and economic hardship. In February 1917 riots over food scarcity broke out in Petrograd (St. Petersburg). When the army joined the rebels, Nicholas was forced to abdicate. A provisional government, headed by Georgy Lvov, was appointed in March and tried to continue Russia's participation in World War I, but it was opposed by the powerful Petrograd workers' soviet, which favoured Russian withdrawal from the war. Other soviets were formed in major cities and towns, choosing members from factories and military units. The soviet movement was dominated by the Socialist Revolutionary Party, followed by the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks. Between March and October, the provisional government was reorganized four times; Aleksandr Kerensky became its head in July; he survived a coup attempt by Lavr Kornilov but was unable to halt Russia's slide into political and military chaos. By September the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, had achieved majorities in the Petrograd and Moscow soviets and won increasing support among the hungry urban workers and soldiers. In October they staged a nearly bloodless coup (the October Revolution), occupying government buildings and strategic points. Kerensky tried unsuccessfully to organize resistance, then fled the country. The congress of soviets approved the formation of a new government composed mainly of Bolsheviks. See also April Theses; Aleksandr Guchkov; July Days; Russian Civil War.
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