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10 months ago
By the end of January, there were more than 400,000 workers out on strike.
In February, the strikes spread to other cities. Workers demanded an eight-hour day, higher wages and better conditions. On 4 February, the Tsar's uncle, the Grand Duke Sergei, was assassinated in Moscow.
In March and May, shameful defeats of the Russian army and navy in the war with Japan led to demands for a change of government.
In June sailors of the battleship Potemkin mutinied. This was very worrying for the government, as other sections of the armed forced might also mutiny. In the countryside in June and July, peasant riots became widespread. Land was seized and landowners' houses were looted and burned
In September, a peace treaty was signed between the Russians and the Japanese. Thousands of troops were now free to help put down the unrest in European Russia. The government paid them all their back pay and promised better conditions of service so they would remain loyal to the Tsar.
In October, a general strike spread from Moscow to other cities. All opposition groups - workers, students, teachers, doctors, revolutionaries - were cited in demanding changes. Barricades were set up in the streets.
On 26 October, the St Petersburg Soviet of Workers' Deputies was formed. Representatives from factories met to co-ordinate strike action. Soviets were formed in other cities. This was a great threat to the Tsar's government.
The Tsar had the choice of giving in or using force, with the likelihood of massive bloodshed. He gave in and issued the October Manifesto on 30 October. This promised: - a parliament or Duma elected by the people - civil rights - e.g. freedom of speech and conscience - uncensored newspapers and the right to form political parties. The liberals and middle classes believed they had won democratic government. They stopped their protests and supported the government.
By December, with all the troops back in Russia, the Tsar felt strong enough to take back control. He used force to close down the St Petersburg Soviet and crush an armed uprising in Moscow. He sent out troops to take revenge on workers and peasants who had rioted and bring them under control.
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