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Associated Press

On This Day: Bolsheviks Overthrow Russian Provisional Government

November 07, 2011 05:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On Nov. 7, 1917, Bolshevik forces entered the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg and overthrew the government that had been in place for eight months. The Bolshevik Revolution resulted in the formation of a communist nation.

The Bolshevik Revolution

In March 1917, a revolutionary coalition overthrew Czar Nicholas II and replaced him with the Russian provisional government, an alliance of the legislature and workers’ party. The government, headed by Alexander Kerensky, was disorganized, ineffective and insistent on remaining in World War I over the objections of the Russian public, drawing resistance from both right- and left-wing organizations.

The Bolshevik Party, led by Marxist revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, represented the most significant opposition to the government and gained the support of the workers.

In October 1917, Lenin entered the Russian capital Petrograd (Saint Petersburg) to lead what is known as the Bolshevik Revolution or October Revolution. On Nov. 6 and 7, Bolshevik forces began occupying government offices in Petrograd in preparation for seizing the government.

On the night of Nov. 7, the Bolsheviks seized the lightly guarded Winter Palace and arrested the government officials who remained. The provisional government collapsed and the Bolsheviks claimed power.

The Formation of the Soviet Union

Over the next several months, over the objections on centrist and right-wing parties, the Bolsheviks transferred power of the government to Bolshevik-controlled soviets (councils of workers), and began nationalizing Russia’s economy, industry and agriculture.

They faced opposition from conservative Russian factions known as the “Whites.” The Bolshevik Red Army defeated the White armies in a bitter civil war that lasted from 1917 to 1923, though most fighting ended by 1920.

In 1922, having consolidated their power, the Bolsheviks formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a one-party state comprising Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine and the Transcaucasian Republic. It was the first country to be founded on the ideals of communism.

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