I am much better informed about the prevalent moods in the extremist left circles and have become convinced to do everything in my power to not let this slide into Jacobinian terror.
Quite practically, it seems, will arise the question of returning to Russia. From all sides this question rises. In Bern, Zinoviev and I discussed the prospects with others. They learned from Temps that Gorky has responded to the request of the Volunteer, Agafonov and others with a telegram: revenez tous, to which they responded with a telegram to Kerensky and Chkheidze to “arrange all measures” for transportation. And today a telegram from St.Petersburg has arrives in Temps: “The bankers handed Kerensky 5 million francs collected by them for organising the transportation of emigrants.” I begin to think that my idea is not utopia: to charter a streamer, and from England to be delivered under the escort of a Russian torpedo boat, which more or less guarantees against an attack.
The Yellow Press has launched an invective-filled campaign to discredit the former Tsar and his wife, attempting to fan the flames of hatred and vengeance among the workers and soldiers of the capital. Fantastic descriptions, many bordering on vulgarity, of palace life have been appearing in various papers, even in some of those which continued to benefit from their former status as the “semi-official” voice of the government right up until the very last day of the regime. The more liberal and democratic papers have thus far restrained from sensationalism in their criticism of the overthrown monarch, but even in these papers the articles of otherwise sober-minded writers sometimes exhibit a highly dubious character.
Pressured to do so by the Executive Committee, the Provisional Government has refused to allow Nicholas Romanov to leave for England without the express consent of the Executive Committee. For the moment, he is being kept at Tsarskoe Selo. The Provisional Government and Justice Minister Kerensky guarantee that he won’t be going anywhere. In the future, the question of Nicholas Romanov will be resolved in agreement with the Executive Committee.
I appeared before the Moscow Soviet. The workers bombarded me with a veritable hail of highly aggressive questions, such as “Why has Grand Duke Nicholas been appointed Commander in Chief? “and “Why is Nicholas II allowed to travel freely throughout the whole of Russia?” These questions were undoubtedly prompted by a feeling of enmity towards the government, and I was disturbed to see the extent to which such attitudes, typical of the Petrograd Soviet, have now been embraced in Moscow. I realized that I would have to give a clear, unequivocal and firm answer to the workers, so I told them:
“The Grand Duke Nicholas was appointed by Nicholas II before his abdication; however he will not remain in the post of Senior Commander in Chief. Now Nicholas II is in my hands: in the hands of the Prosecutor General of Russia. Comrades, I remind you that up until this time, the Russian revolution has taken place without bloodshed, and I do not wish, nor will I allow bloodshed to cast a shadow over the revolution. I shall never be the Marat of the Russian revolution. Very shortly, Nicholas II, under my personal supervision, will be taken to the harbour and sent to England by steamer.”
Kerensky is now the only one who is not on either of the two sides, but exactly where he should be: with the Russian Revolution,. He is the only one, and quite alone. It’s terrible that he is alone. He is a man of brilliant intuition, but not a fully-rounded character. Nowadays, nobody should be alone. And to be alone right at the very top is absolutely terrible. Kerensky will either be joined by many more, and still more, or he will come tumbling down.
The leftist press have taken to calling me ironically a "hostage to democracy".
The third session of the Provisional Government. We met at the ministry of internal affairs, the location of Prince Lvov’s residence. We sat, sensing the grave glances of a dozen of former ministers of the old regime, whose portraits were hanging on the walls. I believe that it was there, surrounded by the portraits of former rulers and not by the excited mob in the Duma, that each of us suddenly realised for the first time the full degree of his involvement in what has happened in Russia in the last couple of days, and the horrible weight of responsibility that lay on us. See more
By the end of the meeting, we have agreed that in order to create a new machine of government we needed to first of all establish a connection with dependable people in the provinces and to allow them to take the places of former governors to reform the mechanism of local governance. Where such people could not be found, to immediately send appropriate representatives from Petrograd.
No one shall be punished outside of the law. All will be judged openly by their peers. My comrade soldiers and citizens - all proceedings of the new government will be published uncensored. See more
Soldiers, I beseech you to offer us assistance. A free Russia has been born, And no one will again prise this freedom from our grasp.
Do not heed the calls of the agents of the former power. Heed your officers. Long live free Russia!
The Emperor's last official act was to appoint the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievich commander-in-chief and Prince Lvoff (the popular leader of the Zemstvos) as the new President of the Council. For, as the result of a compromise between the Duma committee and the Soviet, a Provisional Government had been formed to carry on the administration of the country till a con- stituent assembly had decided whether Russia was to be a Repubic or a Monarchy.
The principal members of this Government belonged to the Cadet and Octobrist parties. Miliukoff, the leader of the former, was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Guchkoff , the leader of the latter. Minister of War. Kerensky, who was made Minister of Justice, served as a link between the Soviet and the Government, and it had been mainly thanks to him that the opposition of the former had been overcome. During the heated discussion that had taken place on the question of the regency he had, in announcing his appointment as Minister of Justice, said in the Soviet: "No one is a more ardent Republican than I; but we must bide our time. Nothing can come to its full height at once. We shall have our Republic, but we must win the war; then we can do what we will."
At that moment, we were primarily preoccupied with the development of the ministries. The issue of supreme executive power was not on the agenda: the majority of the Provisional Duma Committee’s members still took it as a given that the Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich would serve as regent until the coming of age of Alexei, the heir to the throne. See more
Come night, however, we came to an almost unanimous decision that the future state organisation of the country would be determined by the Constituent Assembly. Thus, the monarchy was forever abolished and consigned to the archives of history.
Comrades! There arise moments in the existence of every nation – just as they do in the existence of individuals – when the most pressing question of the day is no longer how best to live, but whether life will continue at all. We are going through just such a moment, and must ask ourselves whether Russia will survive if the old order continues to exist. We are gathered here to swear that Russia will be free.
The decision to create an Interim council with unlimited powers.
At 1PM the soldiers were still not there, thus, when somebody finally called out to me from the vestibule, announcing the arrival of the soldiers, I rushed to the window, barely believing in such an eventuality. See more
From the window I saw the soldiers: they were lined up against the opposite side of the street and surrounded by townsfolk. It was evident that they felt constrained by such unusual circumstances and looked lost without the leadership of their officers.
Without hesitation I rushed to the street through the main entrance without even putting my coat on to greet the soldiers for whom we waited for so long. When I reached the central gate, I exclaimed salutations on behalf of the Duma and asked the soldiers to follow me into the Duma building to disarm the guards and defend the Duma should it come under attack from forces that retained their loyalty to the government.
The soldiers immideately formed columns and marched after me. We reached the guard post through the main entrance of the palace. I was worried that we would have to use force to disarm the guards, however, as it turned out, the guards fled even before we appeared. I instructed an unter-officer to assume command, explaining where the lookouts should be stationed.
By the end of the day, the whole of Petrograd was in the hands of the insurgent troops. The state machine had ceased to function, while certain ministry offices and government agency buildings had been occupied by the revolutionary forces. Some buildings – the Okhrana headquarters, police stations, courthouses – were set alight. By that time, we had established in the Duma a central body that would exercise control over the actions of the troops and insurgents. See more
It being impossible to resolve fundamental state problems during the day – what with the endless maelstrom of people, news and events – we had to wait for night to fall, whereupon the throngs dispersed, and the halls and corridors emptied out. In the ensuing hush, the rooms of the Provisional Committee played host to endless discussions, conferences, passionate arguments. There, in the nocturnal quiet, we set about creating the contours of the new Russia.
We have an enemy, gentlemen, that is much more dangerous than German agents, or betrayal and the treachery of isolated figures. It is our system, our system of unaccountable despotism, our system of medieval ideas about the state, ideas not of the state not as a modern European entity, but as a dominion, in which there is only the ruler and his slaves.