Domestic Policy

Domestic Policy

Russian Domestic Policy, 1894-1905

Russia's government was responsible solely to the Czar; Nicholas II. was determined to hold on to Autocracy and adamantly opposed to any attempt of democratization. The formation of political parties was forbidden; the Okhrana (secret police, est. 1881) made arbitrary arrests, and many a political critic found himself in jail or in a Siberian camp. Others went into exile.

In the past, an autocratic policy had worked because peasants' revolts, although frequent, were badly coordinated and could be treated one by one. The Orthodox church also helped to reconcile the population with the system; Konstantin Pobedonotsev, procurator of the Holy Synod 1880-1905, was regarded the 'ideologist of Russian reaction'. In the growing industrial centers, an Urban Proletariat emerged which was an even more dangerous potential herd of unrest than the peasants on the countryside; yet it had literate leaders and was less influenced by the church.
The policy to outlaw political parties did not prevent them to emerge as illegal organizations. In 1898 the Russian Social-Democratic Party was founded, the Socialist Revolutionary Party in 1900, shortly after the Union of Liberation (liberal). These political organizations, who had to operate in the underground, were largely confined to Russia proper, as the various non-Russian nationalities, alienated by decades of a Russification policy, founded parties of their own.
An economic depression 1900-1902 and the defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904/1905 then created a situation, in which the Russian Empire erupted in revolution.

Russia in 1900, from Spartacus Schoolnet
DOCUMENTS List of Russia's Chief Ministers etc., from World Rulers by Ben Cahoon
Historical maps featuring the Russian Empire, from FEEFHS
Photographs Russian Empire 1895-1910, from California Museum of Photography
Sergey Witte on Russia's economic policy, 1900, from Russian History Homepage at Univ. of Durham (text in English)
K. Pobedonotzev, On Parliamentary Democracy, On Freedom of the Press, On the Nature of Power, On Education, excerpts (1898) from Documents in Russian History
Poultney Bigelow, The Cossack as Cowboy, Soldier and Citizen, in Harper's New Monthly Magazine Nov. 1894 pp.921-937, from Cornell Digital Library Collection
Portraits of Alexander III. (1897), of Nicholas II. (1896) from Helsinki University Museum
Brief van Marius Bauer uit Moskou (letter by Marius Bauer from Moscow), from De Kroniek, 31. 5. 1896, in Dutch, on the coronation of Nicholas II.
REFERENCE The Age of Counterreforms : Nicholas I., pp.311-328, in : Melvin C. Wren, The Course of Russian History, Prospect Heights 1994
Article : Russia, in : Statesman's Year Book 1895 pp.851-916, 1898 pp.851-917, 1901 pp.954-1019, 1905 pp.1046-1105 [G]
Article : Russia, in : International Year Book 1898 pp.678-685, 1899 pp.708-712, 1900 pp.800-805 [G]
Article : Russia, in : Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia and Register of Important Events 1902 pp.604-616 [G]
Algernon Bastard, The Gourmet's Guide to Europe (1903), posted by Gutenberg Library Online, chapter XIV pp.217-226 on Russia

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on October 17th 2007

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