1905 in St. Petersburg: Labor, Society, and Revolution

By Gerald D. Surh | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
The Unity and Diversity of the Opposition, March-September 1905

THE LIBERALS TAKE THE LEAD

The class and ideological divergences between educated society and the lower classes were too obvious and potent an issue for the embattled government not to have sought to use them to its political advantage in combatting the opposition. On February 18 and 19, about the time the Shidlovskii Commission was losing its political viability, the Tsar published a three-part declaration of intentions that set the political tone for the next half year. The first part was a general manifesto responding to the January events, which condemned the attempts of a criminal movement to destroy the state order and called for a strengthening of punitive measures and the support of "right- thinking" persons. The second was an imperial ukaz to the Senate that granted the right to petition the Tsar on matters of "public well-being and state needs." The third was a rescript to Interior Minister Bulygin proclaiming a body of representatives "elected from the population" for the preliminary examination of legislative proposals, i.e., a consultative assembly.1

The three measures codified for the conditions of 1905 the more general carrot-and-stick approach that the regime had always applied: the "criminal leaders" of disorders were put on warning, and the police, the extreme Right, and those subjects whose interests suffered from the continuation of protest (such as employers and property owners) were reassured of the regime's backing. Moderate and

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1
Krizis samoderzhaviia, pp. 183-84. For the text of the three measures, see Sputnik izbiratelia na 1906 god. Osvoboditel'noe dvizhenie i sovremennye ego formy, pp. 239-42.

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