In January 1905 striking workers peaceably demonstrated for reforms in Saint Petersburg. As they marched to the Winter Palace, government troops fired on them, killing and wounding hundreds. The event, known as Bloody Sunday, ignited the revolt known as the Russian Revolution of 1905. In October, faced with a general strike and hoping to restore peace and stability, Nicholas II unwillingly conceded major constitutional reform, including freedom of speech and the creation of a popularly elected assembly, or Duma. However, the unrest continued as revolutionaries demanded even greater freedoms. Terrified by the growing danger of social revolution, Russia’s property-owning elite rallied to the regime. The key to the emperor’s survival was the army’s loyalty: The army crushed a revolutionary insurrection in December and eventually restored order in the towns and countryside.
When the First Duma met from May to July 1906, its main demands were for a government responsible to a democratically elected parliament and for the expropriation of noble estates. These demands were unacceptable to the government, which dissolved the Duma. The Second Duma, elected in 1907, was even more radical than the first; it too was dissolved within a few months. Nicholas then illegally changed the electoral laws to favor the election of those with more conservative interests, such as landowners and industrialists, and the government found it much easier to deal with the Duma. Although significant reforms were achieved between 1907 and 1914, particularly land reforms advanced by Prime Minister Pyotr A. Stolypin, tension between the government and the Duma remained high. "Russia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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