THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION. Episode 3. Russian TV Series. StarMedia. Docudrama. English Subtitles

THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION. Episode 3. Russian TV Series. StarMedia. Docudrama. English Subtitles


present On February 23, 1917
first mass actions that preceded the future revolution
took place in Petrograd. Those news took their time to reach Italy where the Russian philosopher
and revolutionary Boris Yakovenko lived. However, in seven years in his book
“History of the Great Russian Revolution” he wrote: “The revolution started
with an insignificant pretext and then accelerated
with incredible force and speed, and in this respect, it was unexpected. Everybody felt the incredible
political and social tension but nobody thought
that the explosion would be so abrupt and that the events would develop
lightning-fast”. The History of the Russian Revolution.
February. Episode Three The very first demonstration
in Petrograd led to a bloodbath. Only by February 23
calm returned to the city streets and the top officials of the capital
heaved a sigh of relief. It seemed to them that the unrest
had stopped by itself. However, the long winter night passed
and a new day came – Friday, February 24. The morning started as always – the workers came to the gates
of their plants and factories. However, nobody entered the workshops. They organized a meeting
right by the gates of the plant. On February 23, 120,000 people
went out into the streets, and on February 24
that number grew to 210,000 people. The agitators urged the population
to go out into the streets. Among there were representatives
of different parties, first of all, the socialists: Mensheviks,
socialist revolutionaries, and Bolsheviks. The majority of the protesters,
though, didn’t belong to any party; the events of the revolutionary days
pushed those people to the centerstage. Their shouts were turning the crowds on and leading them deeper
into the streets of Petrograd. The law-enforcement officials
didn’t resist the agitators, and the columns moved
towards the center of the city. Posters of General Khabalov
were glued all over the city: “There is enough bread in Petrograd”. The demonstrators went on
tearing the posters off on their way. “To the Neva Avenue! To the Neva Avenue!”
they shouted. The crowd sang revolutionary songs
and shouted slogans like “Get Rid of the Tsar!”,
“Get Rid of the Government!” and “Enough of the War!”; the protesters stopped trams and coaches and knocked out glass in the shop windows. By the bridges, thin chains of police
officers tried to block their way. The fight started. The protesters hurled
stones and pieces of ice at the officers. Soon, shots were heard too.
The Kazaks didn’t help the police. The crowds started to scale the bridges
or simply cross the Neva by the ice. The police cavalry opened fire but failed to contain the advance
of the enraged crowd. The police ran away, and the demonstrators poured
into the central streets of the capital. At noon of February 24,
the city mayor Alexander Balk reported to the head
of the Petrograd garrison General Khabalov that the police were unable
to stop the crowd. Khabalov ordered to summon
the reinforcements from the Kazaks and move the guard regiments
into the center of the city, namely Grenadiers, Keksholm,
Moscow and Finland. The soldiers were to block the main roads and reinforce the security
of the governmental buildings as well as bridges,
post and telegraph departments. The General issued an order: “The troops may use their weapons not stopping at anything
for the sake of restoring order”. By February 1917, 380 military units
and army establishments were stationed in Petrograd and its suburbs. The garrison included over 460,000 people;
in the city itself, there were about 200,000
of soldiers and officers. The Imperial Life Guards
were considered to be the main support of the Petrograd garrison.
The oldest regiments of the Life Guards were the Preobrazhenskiy,
Semenovskiy and Izmailovskiy Regiments. However, the guard units together
with their officers were at the front. Only their reserve battalions
stayed in Petrograd. The majority of the soldiers were novices
and had neither battle experience nor were educated in the military
traditions of their regiments. Former workers and peasants,
they lacked experience of fighting. Many of them hadn’t even sworn an oath, and discipline among them
was on the very low level. It’s a paradox but those formally guard units proved
to be the least fit for restoring order. The military were now fully responsible
for the situation in Petrograd. Army interfered in the events.
At the first glance, the position of the demonstrators
was hopeless. The revolution
seemed to be destined for a failure. The demonstrations
continued throughout Friday. The Kazaks who were to dispel the crowds
behaved indecisively. Often the Kazaks passed the meetings by, smiling to the revolutionary slogans
and bowing to the protesters. It boosted the mood
of the revolutionary masses immensely. They were often saying: “The Kazaks
are for us! The Kazaks are for the people!” For a few centuries the Kazaks
had been the loyal supporters of the Imperial throne.
But in February of 1917, the Kazaks who happened to be
in the capital were reluctant to participate in the suppression
of demonstrations and restoring order. Italy, 1917 From the book of Boris Yakovenko “The
History of the Great Russian Revolution”: “The first fight with the police
took place at the Neva Avenue; in a result of it, a few dozens
of people were wounded with cold weapons. The Kazaks and the troops
demonstrated open unwillingness to succumb to decisive measures
against the crowd”. In Mogilev, at the Headquarters
of the Commander-in-Chief, Emperor Nicolay II was doing routine tasks. His main concern was the preparation
of the advance of the Russian army. He was only getting the Empress’s
letters from the capital about the diseases of the children. That day, on February 24
the Emperor wrote in his diary: “At 10:30 I listened to a report
that finished by the noon. The weather was unpleasant – a blizzard. I walked in the garden for a bit.
Read and wrote. Yesterday Olga and Alexei
fell sick with measles and today Tatyana followed suit”. Nobody reported to the Emperor
about the unrest. The Empress and the children
were at the Tsarskoye Selo and knew nothing
about the events in the capital. It was calm
in the usually noisy State Duma. The capital was brewing but the Duma
went on discussing the food supply issues. The meeting slacked.
Only a group of soldiers that arrived to guard the Duma reminded the deputies
about what was going on behind the walls of the parliament. At the end of the meeting
the deputies approved a request to the Council of Ministers
regarding the food issue and went home. Let’s continue. No anxiety was felt
in the governmental offices too. The General-Major of the Gendarmes
Separate Corps Alexander Spiridovitch
who was also a city mayor of Yalta recalled that he had been in the capital that day and discussed with the Deputy Minister
of the Internal Affairs not the revolution
but the routine problems of the Crimea, namely the repairs
of the famous Yalta embankment. General Spiridovitch used to head
the Tsar’s security service and was an experienced fighter
with the revolutionaries but even he wasn’t alarmed. The Council of Ministers didn’t show
any signs of anxiety too. The Minister of the Internal Affairs
Protopopov was absent at the meeting. The Prime-Minister Prince Golitsin
found out about the unrest when strangers stopped him
while he was crossing the Neva Avenue. By the evening of February 24,
the meetings and demonstrations subsided. Their participants went home
to gather again the following morning. February 25, 1917 (according
to the old style). Saturday. The number of the protestors grew
to 300,000 people. The announcements of General Khabalov
were everywhere. The commander of the military district
gave the workers three days to stop the strikes
and return to their workshops. Military and police officers
patrolled the bridges waiting for the marchers. Again, the police officers
and soldiers failed to contain the crowd. The demonstrators crossed the Neva
by bridges and ice. The main streets of the capital
became the place of a many-thousand strong
manifestation once again. However,
the marchers were much more aggressive now. They beat up the police officers
and took away their weapons. When the police officers
attempted to dispel the crowd, people started throwing
stones and bottles in them. Sometimes,
they also shot at the police officers. The law-enforcement officials tried
to act in a more decisive way. A fight with the workers
took place at the Pipe Plant, and an officer shot one of the workers. At the Znamenskaya Square
by the Nicolayevskiy railway station the police officer tried to take
a red flag from a marcher. The Kazaks were there with the officers. Unexpectedly one of the Kazaks
took a sabre out of his sheath and hit the officer. The crowd finished
the poor man off with spades. Before that moment, the Kazaks
and the police were acting together. But when a Kazak attacked
a police officer, the crowd went beside itself with delight
and carried the Kazak in their arms. In other places,
nothing like that was happening. Executing their orders,
the soldiers were standing face-to-face with the demonstrators,
patrolling the streets and guarding the state establishments.
However, the soldiers were passive. The employees of the Security
Department were reporting: “The troops summoned to assist the police don’t express sympathy to the protestors but also don’t instill fear
into those instigating the unrest”. On one of the streets
adjacent to the Neva Avenue a line of soldiers
blocked the way of the protestors. The rifles were directed at the crowd,
the bayonets at the ready. The workers retreated in fear. An officer with a naked sword
ran up to one of the workers and shouted that they should leave. The worker tore a shirt
on his chest and started shouting: “Give us freedom! Or kill me!” Come on! Kill me! Kill me, bastard! The officer returned the sword to the sheath and ordered his soldiers to retreat. At the shoulder! The streets were in turmoil,
but the Duma went on with its session. However, that day
the deputies worked just a little – the session only lasted 49 minutes.
A new one was scheduled for Tuesday. But it was destined to never take place. The Saturday session of the State Duma
turned out to be the last in its history. By the evening,
nobody was trying to dispel the crowd. The police started
shooting at the protestors. The State Duma had finished its session, but Petrograd’s City Council
went on working. The demonstrators brought the bodies
of their killed comrades to its walls. A routine session immediately turned
into a loud revolutionary meeting. Having satisfied their wish to shout, the deputies
of the City Council went home. The demonstrators went home too. Only then,
during the third day of the manifestations, General Khabalov and the Minister
of Internal Affairs Protopopov reported to the Emperor
about the state of events. The Tsar’s reaction
was easily predictable: “I order to stop the unrest
in the capital tomorrow as it is intolerable during the difficult
time of war with Germany and Austria”. The Tsar made a note in the diary: “A few days ago,
rebellions started in Petrograd; unfortunately,
the troops are taking part in them. It’s terrible to be so far away
and receive such bad news”!” The Emperor’s order was received. General Khabalov convened a meeting
with the commanders of the military units. They decided to act
according to the circumstances – dispel the non-aggressive crowds
with the help of the cavalry and shoot at the aggressive
and armed people. The Council of Ministers
convened for the meeting too. For the first time
since the beginning of the unrest the government was discussing
what was going on in the streets. The Ministers had been arguing
until 4 a.m. At the end,
they agreed to the plan of General Khabalov to scare the demonstrators by disseminating
announcements around the city with a threat to dispel the crowds
with the weapons. Sunday, February 26 arrived. In the morning, a telegram was sent
to the Emperor’s Headquarters. General Khabalov was reporting: “Today, on February 26
the morning is calm in the city”. The Minister of the Internal Affairs
was even more optimistic. He reported that the strike
of the workers had stopped, and the order had been restored.
The reality was completely opposite. The military were patrolling Petrograd;
the soldiers were guarding the bridges. However, closer to noon
the crowds of demonstrators moved towards the center of the capital. The bridges across the Neva
were raised but it didn’t stop the crowds – they simply crossed the river by the ice. The center of Petrograd was once again
filled with the protestors. The appeals “Enough of the War” and
“Get Rid of the Monarchy!” were heard again. People were simply tearing off
Khabalov’s announcements. In a few places,
when the demonstrators attempted to break through the military lines,
the officers fired at them. Some people lost it and ran away. At that moment, the demonstrators
opened fire at the soldiers. It’s still unknown who started to shoot
but the shots were fired everywhere – from the roofs, out of the gateways,
from the crowd. On the Znamenskaya Square by the
Nicolayevskiy railway station the soldiers of the Life Guards of the
Volyn Regiment opened fire at the crowd. Shots were heard in other streets too. The number of dead and wounded
grew by dozens. The situation was becoming
more and more alarming. Barricades started to appear
in Petrograd’s suburbs. The workers were ransacking
the police departments… An agent
of the Security Department reported: “The Neva Avenue is cleared
of the crowds along all its length. On the Znamenskaya Square,
the police found about 40 dead and about the same number of the wounded.
At the same time, on the corner of Italyanskaya
and Sadovaya streets a body of a murdered warrant officer
with a sabre in his hands from the Life Guards
of the Pavlov Regiment was found. On 5 p.m. on the corner of the 1st
Rozhdestvenskaya Street and Suvorov Avenue the troops opened fire at the crowd.
Ten people were killed and a few wounded”. Italy, 1917 “That day was marked
by an entire row of bloody fights and cost the protestors
about 150 dead and over 400 wounded. About 4 p.m. the soldiers
of the Pavlov Regiment started a munity…” Soldiers from the reserve battalions
of the Pavlov Regiment stood guard outside during the day
and were greatly shaken by the events. In the evening,
agitators came to the caserns and started to talk the guards
out of shooting at the people. In a result, a couple of soldiers
seized their rifles and ran outside. The police blocked their way.
A shooting started. The reinforcement consisting
of the Life Guards of the Preobrazhenskiy Regiment
arrived at the officers’ rescue. The mutinied soldiers were driven
back into the caserns and disarmed. Still, a part of them
managed to escape with their rifles. The mutiny was suppressed
but the rumours about the incredible event soon flew all around
the Petrograd garrison. The force-majeure at the Pavlov Regiment seriously influenced the soldiers’ mood. They were becoming more and more hesitant. The police
and the Preobrazhenskiy Regiment had already been engaged
in a shooting with the Pavlov Regiment when Nicolay II received a telegram
from the chairman of the State Duma. Rodzyanko, who was silent a few days ago,
was now raising the alarm: “The situation is serious.
Anarchy rules in the capital. The government is paralyzed. Transport,
food and fuel supplies are all disrupted. The general dissatisfaction is growing.
Endless shooting is heard in the streets. Units of different troops
are firing at each other. A reliable person shall
be immediately entrusted with a task of forming a new government.
We can’t wait. Any delay may mean death”. When Nicolay II left the capital,
it was in a relative order. He didn’t get any reports
on the course of events. It was impossible to believe that
in the course of just three days the situation slipped out of control of the government, Duma,
police and the military. That’s why the Emperor
dismissed that telegram as some nonsense.
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He didn’t pay attention it
and commented as follows: “That fatty Rodzyanko wrote
some nonsense to me again; I won’t even honour him with a reply”. In his diary, he wrote:
“I played domino in the evening”. However,
the fire directed at the demonstrators failed to have the desired effect. The protestors grew more and more
confident in their forces. An agent of the Security Department
reported: “The people are certain
that the revolution has begun, that the masses will succeed
and that the authorities are unable to suppress the movement because the military units
will soon join the revolutionary forces, that the movement
that has started won’t die out but will grow in intensity
until the final victory and the coup”. Despite such reports, the Minister of the Internal Affairs
Protopopov remained calm. He was sure that General Khabalov
would suppress the revolution. However,
not everybody shared Protopopov’s calm. The Ministers
who gathered on Sunday evening at the Prime-Minister Golitsin’s house
finally decided to disband the State Duma.
Almost everybody realized that the Duma’s parties
were disrupting the order in the capital encouraging the munity. Golitsin got
the Tsar’s order on dispelling the Duma a few days ago;
all he needed to do was to put a date. The Ministers informed
the Duma’s chairman Rodzyanko about the disbanding of the Duma.
He immediately sent another telegram to the Emperor in which he confronted
the Emperor with a choice: he should either recall his order and concede to the Duma
or face the downfall of the dynasty. It looked like an ultimatum.
Nicolay didn’t reply to that telegram. Night engulfed Petrograd.
The streets of the capital were empty. There were almost no patrols
of the military and police officers. Everybody was waiting for the next day. The events didn’t keep
them waiting for long. Italy, 1917 At night from Sunday to Monday, the soldiers of the Volyn Regiment
lived through a deep psychological trauma in their casern,
which in the morning of February 27 predisposed the course of further events… Th soldiers spent the entire previous day face-to-face
with the enraged revolutionary crowd. The protesters were appealing
to the officers trying to convince them
not to shot at the people and not to dispel the demonstrations.
The soldiers were listening to the appeals, and their mood was changing. They returned
to their casern deep in thoughts and discussed
what had been happening all night, from February 26 to February 27. Non-commissioned officer
Timofey Kirpichnikov, a peasant from the Penza province
gave the most passionate speech. Timofey Kirpichnikov came from
a family of the Old Believers. He was considered to be the first soldier who came out against the Tsar’s regime. For that,
the Temporary Government later awarded him with a rank of a warrant officer. According to his
contemporaries’ recollections, he boasted his awards and was unduly rude
even with the commanders. In October of 1917, he tried to instigate
a mutiny among the soldiers again, that time against the new government,
though unsuccessfully. The soldiers decided not to fire
at the protestors again. Kirpichnikov raised his
people before dawn; the soldiers took their arms
and assumed formation. When their commander
Staff Captain Lashkevitch came the soldiers refused to greet
him according to the Rules and shouted “Hurray” instead of the usual
“Good afternoon, Your Honora”. Hurray! One of the soldiers told Lashkevitch that the members
of the Volyn regiment wouldn’t fire at the demonstrators anymore. Then
the officer took out the Tsar’s telegram with an order
to stop the unrest and read it. The soldiers answered with a disapproving
rumble; somebody started to shout: “Go away from us”!
Staff Captain went out of the casern to call the headquarters
and report on the mutiny. When Lashkevitch was crossing the grounds,
somebody fired from the casern. It was still possible to stop the mutiny. However, the other officers
collected the regiments’ money and the banner of the regiment
and rushed out of the gates. The rebellious soldiers
poured into the streets. After the murder of the commander
Kirpichnikov and his comrades didn’t have any other choice.
They would be executed for sure. The Volyn Regiment started to involve
other regiments into the revolt. The first to join them were the soldiers of the Life Guard
Preobrazhenskiy Regiment. They took rifles and bullets
and a couple of machine guns. They killed an officer
who tried to stop them with bayonets. Soldiers of the Lithuanian Regiment
joined them, followed by the other units. The military force that was loyal
to the authorities was melting away. Almost the entire garrison
of the capital revolted. The demonstrators gathered
in Petrograd’s streets again, but that time the soldiers
were on their side. They burnt the building
of the District Count, the Gendarmery Department,
and the Secret Service. The crowd seized the Main Artillery
Department and the Arsenal. The protestors killed General Matusov,
the head of the Arsenal’s stores. The Ministry of the Internal Affairs and
the house of the city mayor were ransacked. Sometimes the crowd didn’t realize
what it was doing. It included the supporters of the Duma,
liberals, social democrats and Bolsheviks. However, the majority was
the common workers, soldiers, students, clerks, shop salesmen, female students,
house maids, drunks and hooligans. They didn’t belong to parties,
had no political programs and didn’t know well
what they were fighting for. They were worried about the introduction
of ration cards for bread, the war everybody was tired of;
they wished to immediately solve all the problems
and felt romantic certainty that they could improve
the situation right there and then – regardless of the means. The intoxication
of the crowd that realized its strength and impunity was forcing people
who were peaceful just yesterday to hurl stones at the police
and demand the change of power. Nobody of those people could explain
what power they wanted to have. The crowd lived
according to the rules of the crowd. Hearing the shouts “hit” and “burn”,
it was attacking the city police and ransacking police departments.
The people believed that their actions would lead Russia to some other, unknown
freedom, justice, order and well-being. They didn’t realize that they were ruining
their country, their own future and the future of their children
with their own hands. Not the politicians and revolutionaries
but the crowd led the country to the wars, violence and chaos
unknown in history before. The rebels started to storm the prisons. They seized the infamous “Kresty”,
the “Lithuanian Palace” prison and the detention cells
in the Shpalernaya Street. The political prisoners
who were released appealed to the crowds to save the State Duma.
Among them were the members of the so-called Working Group of the
Central Military and Industrial Committee Gvozdev and Bogdanov who had been arrested
for organization of mass strikes. They called upon defending
the oppositional Duma from the Tsar’s government
that many considered to be the congregation of the dark forces
that had captured Russia. The crowd rushed to the Tavria Palace. The deputies of the Duma already knew
about the revolt of the Petrograd garrison. One of the Duma leaders Pavel Milyukov lived right opposite
to the caserns of the Volyn Regiment. However, when the soldiers rebelled
the deputy was sound asleep. A yard cleaner woke him up
to pass the important news. Deputy Kerenskiy was sleeping as well. He got the news about the rebellion
of the Volyn Regiment by the phone. Still groggy from his sleep,
Alexander Fedorovitch couldn’t understand what the soldiers’ support
meant for the revolution. However,
as soon as he realized what was going on, he rushed to the Tavria Palace. No session of the Duma
was scheduled for that day, but the deputies gathered
for a meeting anyway. They were in a difficult situation. On one hand, the Duma was officially
dismissed and its activities were illegal. On the other hand,
it couldn’t withdraw from the events. As opposed to Kerenskiy, other deputies didn’t realize
the significance of what was going on. The most passionate deputies
offered to announce Duma transformed into the Constituent Assembly, which meant undertaking
the full authority. The Constituent Assembly,
the highest state body consisting of the deputies elected by
the people through the general vote. The Constituent Assembly
had an exclusive right to define the form of government and develop
the Constitution of the state, while the State Duma consisted
of the representatives of political parties, a part of whom was appealing
to overthrow monarchy in Russia. However, the State Duma
couldn’t undertake the functions of the Constituent Assembly. In a result of the discussions
a less radical decision was taken. A temporary committee was founded
in the Duma for restoring the order. The deputies decided to insure themselves. The Duma was officially disbanded
and any of its actions would be illegal, especially an attempt
to take control over the country. Should the government win,
all the participants of those actions would be justly arrested
for cooperation in a coup d’état. However, the new committee founded
by the deputies could be presented as an ally of the authorities
in case of the revolution’s failure. In the course of the meeting,
an officer ran into the hall and begged the deputies to protect him. He headed the guards
who were defending the Duma, and the rebels had almost killed him.
The deputies were overwhelmed. Kerenskiy was the first
to come to his senses. He ran out into the streets, pulled
at the sleeve of the first soldier he saw and said: “Comrades soldiers!
You’ve been honoured with defending the Duma. I announce you
to be the first revolutionary guards…” It was Kerenskiy’s minute of fame.
The crowd poured into the Tavria Palace, and the former lawyer
delivered a passionate speech. He talked about the revolution,
demanded not to spill blood and promised to arrest one of the
top-ranking Tsar’s officials – Ivan Scheglovatiy,
the chairman of the State Council, the upper chamber of the parliament.
Soon Scheglovatiy, whom the liberal opposition
indeed loathed for long, was marched
to the Tavria Palace under guard. Kerenskiy’s authority
increased in a matter of hours. He was the one to sign the papers,
he was consulted, he was expected to give instructions.
One of the journalists asked Kerenskiy: “Do you know that you’re
the all-mighty in Russia now?” “It was pleasant to hear”, he replied. The street rebellion was illegal. However,
when the Duma openly joined the rebels, the actions of the crowd
were perceived differently. Pavel Milyukov wrote in the emigration: “The interference of the State Duma
gave the street and military movement a centre, a banner and a slogan
and turned the rebellion into a revolution that finished with the overthrowing
of the old regime and the dynasty”. The position of the Duma
changed overnight. A few hours ago, it was an illegal gathering
that had violated the Tsar’s order. But now it led the coup d’?tat
and became the first representative of the new authorities
in the eyes of many. A former head of the Emperor’s security
General Spiridovitch recalled that change:
“Anybody who deemed himself to be the supporter of the revolution
could come to the Duma. A soldier who killed his commander,
a party worker who had been arrested, a representative of the intelligentsia
who dreamt about the revolution while drinking vodka, excited young girls, young men of different views and ages, adventurers of all types
and criminals released from prisons – they all gathered in the Duma. The Duma became the
headquarters of the revolution”. The revolution got its first
headquarters and armed forces. However, it still hadn’t won. The old regime
was still in power in Petrograd, the Tsar was at the Headquarters
and had regular troops at his disposal. The revolution could still be stopped.
In the afternoon of February 27, Military Minister General Belyayev
sent a telegram to the Emperor at the Headquarters: “The unrest that started
in the morning in some military units is being actively and quickly suppressed
by the companies and battalions that remained loyal. We haven’t succeeded
in suppressing the revolt but I’m certain that soon
the order will be restored as drastic measures are taken to that end. The authorities remain completely calm”. In reality,
the situation was very different. There were less and less of companies
and battalions that remained loyal. Besides, they were stationed
in different parts of the city, and it was difficult
to gather them together. The main thing was that all those units
lacked an energetic and brave commander. The authorities were looking
for such a person and soon found him – it was Colonel Kutepov. Alexander Pavlovitch Kutepov,
Infantry General. During the Russian-Japanese War
served as a scout and executed complicated tasks undercover. Received the St. Vladimir medal
from the Emperor’s hands. He started the First World War
as Staff Officer of the Life Guards of the Preobrazhenskiy Regiment
and was fighting at the front. He was incredibly brave,
and for his bravery was awarded with the St. George medal of the 4th
class and the George’s arms. A Colonel. When Kutepov came to Petrograd
for a short vacation, he was unexpectedly summoned
to headquarters of the Petrograd garrison. Comrade General? Colonel Kutepov. You may come in. There, General Khabalov
informed Kutepov personally that he was appointed the head
of the punitive detachment that was to restore order in the city. Well? Good luck, Alexander Pavlovitch. Kutepov became the commander; however,
different obstacles blocked his way. It turned out that the soldiers
hadn’t eaten since the previous day. The commandment led them out
into the streets, but nobody thought
of organizing their nourishment. Kutepov ordered the officers
to buy the food for their soldiers. After that, he met the machine gunners. He asked whether they could
open fire at order. They answered that the machine guns
weren’t ready for the fights – the oil and water without which
the machine gun couldn’t function froze. He had to send
a couple of people to the caserns to put the machine guns in order. Despite all those difficulties, Colonel with his soldiers
moved towards the Neva Avenue. On their way, an envoy caught up
with them and passed a new order: to move towards the Winter Palace. It was impossible to get
to the Palace through the Neva Avenue. The detachment moved
along the Liteyniy Avenue. On their way, they met groups of confused
soldiers from different regiments. They went out into the city
following their rebellious comrades but didn’t know what to do. Many of them were simply afraid
of the punishment. Kutepov promised that they
wouldn’t be sent to court martial if they returned to their caserns
immediately. The soldiers started to disperse,
and Kutepov’s detachment moved on. The shooting was heard everywhere, the cars with red banners
were driving around. Some rebels preffered to escape. However, the detachment
had to fight a couple of times. Some of its people were killed or wounded.
The forces were clearly uneven. There were too many soldiers
who chose to support the revolution. To defeat them, Colonel’s will alone
Wasn’t enough. Soon Kutepov’s small detachment
ceased to exist. His soldiers and officers
dispersed about Petrograd’s streets. The situation in other units
that remained loyal wasn’t much better. On a square in front of the Winter Palace
a group of soldiers from the guard regiments
and guard seamen gathered. The officers were waiting for an order.
However, no order came. The cold was strong.
So, after waiting for a few hours, soldiers and seamen simply went home. That very same day another pillar
of the power went down – the Security Department. The Security Department. Full name – the Department
for Securing of Public Safety and Order. The local department
of the Police Department of the Ministry of the Internal
Affairs that was entrusted with political investigations and
investigation of crimes against the state. It was founded in 1866 after another
attempt at the life of Emperor Alexander II. In the morning of February 27, a platoon of soldiers
arrived at the building where the Security Department
was situated. They were to guard its officers and clerks. The head of the department
General Globachyov asked the commander whether his soldiers would fire
at the revolutionary crowd. The confused officer confessed
that he wasn’t sure about that. Then Globachyov dismissed the soldiers. They didn’t get any instructions
from the Minister of Internal Affairs. When General Globachyov heard
that the enraged crowd was nearing the Security Department,
he dismissed all the personnel and then left himself. Soon the crowd
broke into the empty building and completely ransacked it.
All the archives and case files were burnt. The Security Department ceased to exist. In the streets,
the revolution was in full swing when the ministers convened
at the Prime-Minister Golitsin’s house. General Khabalov came to the meeting too. He was scared; the hands of the commander
of the military district were shaking, his voice was trembling.
The ministers had to interrupt the meeting when they heard that the crowd
was close to the building. In a few hours,
the government gathered together again, that time at the Mariinskiy Palace. They talked the Minister of the
Internal Affairs into resigning. Protopopov, whom the liberal
opposition loathed, agreed. However,
it was too late to change anything. Besides, a key ministry
was left without any head at all. That evening,
Prince Golitsin sent a telegram to the Tsar stating that the Council of Ministers
announced Petrograd to be in a state of a defence emergency. The head of the government asked
to send a popular general to the city and to relieve all the ministers
of their positions. In that telegram,
Golitsin confessed that the government was unable to restore order.
After sending the telegram, the ministers went on
with their discussions. At that moment, a revolutionary crowd
burst into the Mariinskiy Palace. A pogrom started. That was how the last
meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Russian Empire ended. Italy, 1917 “By the night the capital
was decisively and irrevocable in the revolutionaries’ hands;
even the troops that didn’t join the rebels were avoiding any fights
and kept armed neutrality…” By the evening of February 27,
over 60,000 soldiers were already on the
side of the revolution; the other troops of the Petrograd garrison were still executing
the orders of their commanders. The commandment of the military district
headed by general Khabalov gathered in the Admiralty building.
The generals were consulting each other, putting forward and
discussing different plans; they laid more and more hopes
for the help from the front. Nobody believed that they could extinguish
the revolutionary fire by themselves. At night, two telegrams were sent
to the Emperor at the Headquarters. One was sent by the commander
of the Petrograd garrison General Khabalov: “Please report to His Imperial Highness
that I couldn’t execute his order and restore the order in the capital.
The majority of the units, one by one, are breaking their oaths
and refusing to fight against the rebels”. Military Minister Belyayev wrote:
“The situation in Petrograd is serious. We are still unable to stop the revolt
with few military units that remained loyal. On the contrary, many units have already
joined the rebels. The fires started. We don’t have the means to extinguish them. An arrival of reliable troops is needed,
besides, they shall be numerous enough for simultaneous actions
in different parts of the city”. After Kutepov’s detachment dispersed, Colonel had to hide
in the first best house. In the streets,
the enraged crowd was looking for officers. In the same house,
there were nurses of the Red Cross who offered the Colonel
to disguise as a make nurse to escape but Kutepov refused. Are there officers here? What do you have there. Look for them well? They won’t hide from us. Have your checked these rooms? And upstairs? Where is this bastard? He shall be somewhere in the house. Move up. One floor up. Put him by the wall. Here. Shoot! Less than in one year he would participate
in organization of the Volunteer Army at the Don for a fight
against the Bolsheviks. At that time,
an officer was brought to his headquarters who informed Kutepov rudely
that he wanted to fight the Bolsheviks. When asked about who he was
the officer said that he had been one of the first soldiers who came out against the Tsar’s regime. It was Timofey Kirpichnikov who raised
the mutiny at the Volyn Regiment. At Kutepov’s order, the so-called
“first soldier of the revolution” was executed on the spot.
His body was thrown into a nearby ditch. Italy, 1917 In the evening of February 27,
almost all the forces that remained loyal to the Tsar’s
government stopped the resistance. “All the non-revolutionary oases were
encircled by the revolutionary masses, and their downfall was a question
of just a couple of hours”.

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