How far did the reaction under Alexander III indicate the short-sightedness of the Tsarist Government?
When Alexander III came into power earlier than he expected in 1881, he faced many problems that he needed to overcome. The reforms left by his father put his own supreme political power at risk and he had the problem of keeping the large multi-ethnic empire together. Also, he faced opposition from extremist groups such as the ‘People’s Will’ so he had the constant fear of being assassinated like his father was. He had three main beliefs to overcome these problems; repressing opponents, undoing the reforms of his father and restoring Russia’s position internationally and also restoring Russia’s national identity. Alexander III aimed to repress his opponents with the University Statute of 1887. He wanted to destroy the People’s Will and stop the spread of radical ideas and one of the ways he tried to do this was by severely restricting universities. Fees were increased to incredibly high prices meaning that only the very wealthy could afford to go there and the universities became government run so losing their self-government. Also, the Church controlled secondary schools so that no poor people could enter them and consequently not get into a university. This showed the short-sightedness of the Tsarist government as these changes led to rebellion. The statute did not destroy the People’s Will and in 1887 they made an attempt at assassination. The Okhrana killed the elder brother of future Bolshevik leader Alexander Ulyanov and this prompted him in 1918 to order the murder of Alexander III’s son Nicholas II and his entire family. Alexander III also needed to undo the reforms made by his father and he aimed to do this by introducing the Zemstva Act of 1890. Pobedonostsev began to undo many of the reforms...
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