A new Russian language documentary is “important for historical parallels”, experts say, by dispelling the myth that Russia was a backward nation during the reign of Nicholas II – 1894 to 1917.
More than a hundred years have passed since the catastrophic events of the February 1917 Revolution in Petrograd, but their significance has not diminished during the last 100+ years.
The February Revolution left behind a lot of questions. With all the chronological clarity of those events, their interpretations to this day contradict each other. What was the Russian Empire like on the eve of the February Revolution? What was the position of the peasants and workers? What was the state of the economy and events of the First World War? For decades (especially during the Soviet period) it was believed that life in Russia at that time was characterized by poverty, backwardness, military devastation. oppression by the autocracy, etc. So, what is the truth?
In his new Russian language documentary series Гибель империи. Российский урок / Death of the Empire. Russian Lesson [18 episodes, each one a duration of 15 to 20 minutes] Metropolitan of Pskov and Porkhov Tikhon (Shevkunov), analyzes the economy of the Russian Empire, its domestic and foreign policy, the activities of the tsar, military, political elites, but most importantly, the state of Russian society during that period.
Metropolitan Tikhon clearly notes that during the First World War, the Russian Empire was neither economically nor militarily in any worse state than that of other countries. On the eve of the First World War, the Russian economy was developing rapidly, the standard of living rose significantly, the population during the reign of Nicholas II increased by 50 million people.
By 1917, Russia had increased the production of cast iron 4 times, copper 5 times, coal 5 times, and from 1911 to 1914 the machine-building industry increased 2 times. Before World War I, Russia produced 9.4% of world GDP and was ranked 4-5 in the world in terms of its volume. Most importantly, the land issue was not a decisive factor in the revolution. So, by 1916, in the European part of Russia, 90% of arable land was in the hands of the peasantry, and100% in the Asian part of the empire.
A key factor in the tragedy of 1917 was played out by Russia’s so-called “allies” – Great Britain and France, who directly indulged the conspirators. The British delegation led by Lord Alfred Milner (1854-1925) presented an ultimatum to the Emperor on the eve of the revolution, in which he demanded, a change in the state system in Russia with the introduction of the concept of “responsible” (before the Duma) government. An outrageous demand by a foreign power, especially during war with Germany. In the aftermath of the Tsar’s abdication in 1917, the “allies” abandoned the Russian Sovereign, who in the end, was the only true ally who honoured his commitment to the war.
PHOTO: Metropolitan of Pskov and Porkhov Tikhon (Shevkunov)
The betrayal of the elites was even more tragic. At the beginning of 1917, Russia was on the verge of winning the war – during the planned spring-summer offensive. The Russian Imperial Army would surely have broken through the German positions, which would have resulted in the enemy being forced to cede all the territories to Russia, promised under the Sykes-Picot Agreement and enormous reparations. The commander-in-chief of the German army General Erich Ludendorff (1865-1937), even admitted: “Our defeat seemed inevitable.” But then the February Revolution broke out in Russia.
One of the main problems of pre-revolutionary Russia was its “enlightened” society, who literally dreamed of a revolution. Many prominent writers, scientists and publicists supported the underground movements in one way or another, some even through financing and campaigning.
Russia’s “enlightened” society created, in fact, a parallel state. It had almost all the attributes of statehood – its own army (terrorist), its own mass media, its own informal budget, its own “courts” and governing bodies. As a result, by 1917, public opinion in Russia was prepared for a conspiracy and a change of power. however, in the end, many of those who were so thirsty for revolution then perished during the civil war and the subsequent Bolshevik repressions.
The key problem of the Russian people, according to the testimonies of eyewitnesses of the events cited by Father Tikhon, was the colossal impatience of the people and their pliability to the provocative speeches of revolutionary agitators. It is simply amazing how in 1917 a significant number of people fell so easily for the fables about “freedom, equality and brotherhood” – who in the end received any such promises.
Malicious gossip and revolutionary propaganda, helped to turn the people against their Tsar. Lies spread like wildfire during the war years. References were made to the “bloody tsarist regime”. Emperor Nicholas II was referred to as “an alcoholic”, and his wife as “a German spy”, as well as the “destructive influence of Grigory Rasputin”. References to the “bloody tsarist regime”, were published daily by the liberal press, often prompted by Western propaganda. German planes dropped leaflets with cynical cartoons of Nikolashka in the trenches of Russian soldiers.
“Russia was ruined by gossip,” Vladyka Tikhon quotes the outstanding Russian writer Ivan Lukyanovich Solonevich (1891-1953), a devout monarchist, who believed that “monarchy was the only viable and historically justified political system for Russia”.
© Paul Gilbert. 21 April 2021
If you enjoy my articles, news stories and translations, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars to my project The Truth About Nicholas II – please note that donations can be made by GoFundMe, PayPal, credit card, personal check or money order. Thank you for your consideration – PG