Russian Revolution

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In 1917, two revolutions swept through Russia, ending centuries of imperial rule and setting in motion political and social changes that would lead to the formation of the Soviet Union. In March, growing civil unrest, coupled with chronic food shortages, erupted into open revolt, forcing the abdication of Nicholas II (1868-1918), the last Russian czar. Just months later, the newly installed provisional government was itself overthrown by the more radical Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924). By 1917, most Russians had lost faith in the leadership ability of Czar Nicholas II. Government corruption was rampart, the Russian economy remained backward, and Nicholas repeatedly dissolved the Duma, the Russian parliament established after the 1905 revolution, when it opposed his will. However, the instant cause of the February Revolution--the first phase of the Russian Revolution of 1917--was Russia's disastrous involvement in World War I (1914-18). Militarily, imperial Russia was no match for industrialized Germany, and Russian casualties were greater than those sustained by any nation in any previous war. Meanwhile, the economy was hopelessly disrupted by the costly war effort, and moderates joined Russian radical elements in calling for the overthrow of the czar. The February Revolution (known as such because of Russia's use of the Julian calendar until February 1918) began on March 8, 1917 (or February 23 on the Julian calendar), when protesters clamoring for bread took to the streets in the Russian capital of Petrograd (now called St. Petersburg). Supported by huge crowds of striking industrial workers, the protesters clashed with police but refused to leave the streets. On March 10, the strike spread among all of Petrograd's workers, and furious mobs destroyed police stations. Several factories elected deputies to the Petrograd Soviet, or council, of workers' committees, following the model devised during the 1905 revolution. On March 11, the troops of...
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