The Russian Revolution, 1917: Eyewitness Account - Vol. 2

By N. N. Sukanov; Joel Carmichael | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 26
THE PRE-PARLIAMENT

THE official title conferred on the Pre-Parliament was: 'The Provisional Council of the Russian Republic'. The opening was scheduled for October 7th. Premises were looked for. Something fitting was wanted--not too primitive or provincial, for the Government itself and the most respectable social elements (not workers or soldiers) would have to be there often. But not too ceremonial or official either, for this wasn't the State Duma or any plenipotentiary organ. The Rech thought the Smolny Institute would be a very suitable location. And as a matter of fact, it was quite free: only the Central Ex. Com. and the Petersburg Soviet, which should never have seen the light of day, were there. But could the Bolsheviks be cleared out of Smolny . . . ? The row of dots meant: 'Oh, for Kornilov!' But suitable premises couldn't be found, and the Marian Palace had to do.

The 'democratic' majority consisted of 308 people, of whom sixty-six were Bolsheviks, about sixty official Mensheviks, and 120 SRs, about twenty of whom were Leftist. Then there were some Co-operators in the 'democracy', who included extreme Right Mensheviks and SRs.

Our fraction, the Menshevik-Internationalists, numbered about thirty. We had never had so many; with such a 'mass' we could at any rate produce enough of an uproar, or start verbal obstruction.

At the beginning the bourgeois representatives demanded 120 seats, but then they increased that to 150. Then I think they did some more bargaining, of no particular interest to us. They, like the democracy, had heaped up the most improbable social classes, strata, and groups, and the unlikeliest combinations. Well-to-do peasants were affiliated with propertied elements. . . There were about seventy-five Cadets. The majority of the rest, sent by every possible organization of industrialists and landowners, was more Right: old Octobrists and Nationalists. For some reason they were still stubbornly fighting against formally pouring their streamlets into the Cadet sea. But in practice they

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