120 Czarist Russia
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian Empire encompassed an immense territory that amounted to one sixth of the earth’s surface. It extended from western Europe, across the Steppes and Siberian forests, to the Pacific Ocean, and from the frozen lands of the Arctic to the temperate shores
ofthe Black Sea.
This vast space housed around 150 million inhabitants in 1917. The population was very unevenly distributed and possessed a great diversity of nationalities, peoples and cultures. The economy, based on agriculture, was slowly beginning to develop industrially.
Russia was governed by an autocratic monarchy, in which the Czar exercised his power – established by divine right – as an absolute ruler. The sovereign was backed by a feudal aristocracy, the Orthodox Church and a corrupt bureaucracy.
Gradually, political opposition to Czarism grew in Russia. This opposition was tied to the cultural elite, which was based on the liberal European tradition.
At the end of the 19th century, the Marxist-inspired Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party (RSDWP) was also founded. This party felt that the working class should carry out a revolution to eliminate injustice and inequality.
In 1903, the RSDW P split into two groups:
• Bolsheviks, who defended the seizure of power by a committed working-class minority. Their most famous motto was ‘Peace, bread and land’. Their leader was Lenin.
• Mensheviks, who were more moderate and favoured an alliance with reformist liberalism.

2.2 The Revolution of 1905
In 1905, forces that were hostile to Czarism tried to rise to power by means of a revolution. Its root causes lay in a severe economic, political and social crisis which provoked a powerful strike movement, and in Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), which demonstrated the weakness of
the Czarist regime.
What sparked the revolution was the savage repression of a peaceful demonstration where people were petitioning the Czar for better conditions. The massacre, known as Bloody Sunday, unleashed a wave of popular outrage and marked the final rupture between the people and the Czar.

Popular protests, workers’ strikes, peasant revolts and military uprisings culminated in a pre-revolutionary situation. Political strikes became the main weapon. the first soviet was formed in St. Petersburg 
It consisted of workers, peasants and soldiers.

In 1905, the revolutionaries did not succeed in taking power, but they pressured the Czar into implementing some reforms:
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more than a thousand victims in front of t more than a thousand victims in front of the palace.
• Creation of the Duma or National Legislative Assembly, which in theory was the equivalent of a parliament but was controlled by the Czar.

* The start of an agrarian reform with distribution of lands that would serve, in the long term, to create a social base of support for the liberal regime. The project was prevented because of the assassination of its promoter, Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin, in 1911.
• The establishment of limited individual and citizens’ liberties.
In the summer of 1914, the First World War began. After the initial defeats, Czar Nicholas II took direct control of the army in 1915, but couldn’t prevent the collapse of the front or the breakdown of civil power. The Czarina, under the influence of the extravagant Rasputin, openly manipulated the disoriented government.
generated conditions for a new revolutonary outburst.
The war produced the demoralisation of the army and the people.

2.3 The Revolution of February 1917
the spark of this new revolution was the imposition of ration cards in a situation or war, hunger and general demoralisation. These cards allowed families to acquire a small quantity of provisions to be able to subsist in times of scarcity. in February 1917, striking workers and women led popular demonstrations with the motto peace, bread and land: Soon afterwards, the demonstrations resulted in a general revolutionary strike. After some moments of indecision, the forces of order and the Duma aligned with the revolutionaries. When he realised that he no longer had support, the Czar was obliged to abdicate. The revolution had triumphed.
Two poles of power would emerge from the political space left by the Czar.
They were both heirs to the Revolution of 1905, but had different characteristics and goals: one liberal, the Duma, and the other revolutionary, the Soviet. Both tried to give political direction to the revolution and agreed to form a Provisional Government which would establish democratic freedoms, form a constituent assembly and grant a political amnesty.

The amnesty allowed Lenin to return from his exile in Zurich (Switzerland), but he refused to cooperate with the Provisional Government and defended the need to move to a new phase of the revolution aimed at taking power.
2.4 The Revolution of October 1917
The Provisional Government tried to boost the war effort, which increased social tension. During the summer, the head of Government, Kerenski, entrusted the supreme command of the army to General Kornilov, who tried to overthrow the government and install a military dictatorship. This event became the immediate cause of a new revolution.
Lenin felt the time had come and made the decision to move to an armed uprising. From the Smolny Institute, seat of the Petrograd Soviet, the Bolsheviks organized the revolution. During the night of the 24th to the 25th of October, according to the Russian calendar, revolutionary troops occupied the strategic points of the city, took the Winter Palace and dismissed the government.
The following day, warning shots from the cruiser Aurora announced the triumph of the revolution and with it spread the idea that a Communist revolution was beginning worldwide.
The Czar and his family were executed in July 1918 and many people had to go into exile.

2.5 The first revolutionary government
On October 26th, a revolutionary government was formed. Led by Lenin, it included representatives from all the political factions that had participated in the revolution. The first decrees of the new Soviet state were immediately published:
• The Decree on Peace, which outlined Russia’s withdrawal from the war without territorial losses.
The Decree on Land, by which the state confiscated the property of the Crown, the Orthodox Church and landowners, and handed it over to the control of local soviets and agrarian committees for division among the peasants.
In November 1917, elections by universal suffrage were held to elect a constituent assembly. These elections were won by the Socialist Revolutionary Party (SR, whose members were known as ‘SRs). Because it did not have the expected majority, the Bolsheviks dissolved it by force and took power.
In March 1918, Lenin signed a peace treaty with Germany: the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which meant the immediate end of the war for Russia in exchange for the loss of important territories (Finland, Poland, the Baltic States, Ukraine and others). As such, it relinquished more than a third of its population and industrial, agricultural and mineral wealth.

Bal The Russian Civil War (1918-1920)
After the October Revolution, Bolshevik control was complete in the main cities and industrialised areas. Conversely, the outlying regions remained under the control of the counterrevolutionaries who were opposed in that solshevik regime. The internal tensions led to the outbreak of a civil war that pitted the following two sides against each other:
. The White Army: made up of counterrevolutionaries that had the backing of foreign powers. These countries wanted the revolution to fail so that it would not spread to Western countries and, at the same time, so they could control Russian natural resources, such as oil.
. The Red Army: consisting of Bolsheviks, under Trotsky’s command; their discipline and courage enabled them to win the war.
On an economic level, the response to the situation was the so-called War Communism. By means of this policy, the government controlled the economy and abolished private property. This model proved inadequate for increasing production: hunger and peasant protests spread.
Politically, the war contributed to consolidating the regime and strengthened the single party. This is how the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was born in 1922. To control the revolution and carry out their plans, the Bolsheviks tried to control other revolutionary groups, which responded with uprisings and even an attack against Lenin. The secret police, the Cheka, resolved to eliminate all dissidents.
3.2 The 1920s in Russia. The New Economic Policy At the end of the Civil War, the economic situation was critical. The solution was the New Economic Policy (NEP), which was a mixed system combining elements of capitalism and socialism. The NEP lasted from 1921 to 1928.


10% of the agricultural production had to be handed over to the state.

Large industries were the property of the state, although administrative self-management was considered.

Control of transport, large-scale trade and foreign trade.

State control of finances.