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.”
Adjutant-General Alexeev has informed me of the unprecedented and fatal situation and has asked me to support his view, that a victorious end to the war, so vital for the well-being and future of Russia, as well as salvation of the dynasty, requires extraordinary measures. As a loyal subject, I feel it my necessary duty of allegiance, and in the spirit of my oath, to beg Your Imperial Majesty on my knees to save Russia and your heir, being aware of your sacred feelings of love for Russia and for him. Make the sign of the cross and HAND OVER TO HIM YOUR HERITAGE. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY. I ardently pray god as never before in my life to sustain and guide you.
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."