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From Communism to Anti-Communism

Andre Liebich
Svetlana Yakimovich

From the Revolution to the Comintern

Demonstration of a Factory Delegation, Petrograd, April 1917

Alexander Rabinowitch

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The banners in the centre of the photograph read in Russian: “Да здравствует немедленное перемирие на всех фронтах! РСДРП”; “Вся власть Советамъ Рабочихъ, Солдатскихъ и Крестьянскихъ депутатовъ” – [“Long live the immediate armistice on all fronts! RSDLP”; “All power to the Soviets of workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies”]. Black and white photograph; 24 x 18 cm.

1Following the overthrow of tsar Nicholas II in February 1917, a Western–oriented, liberal government, the “Provisional Government,” took power in Russia pending convocation of a nationwide Constituent Assembly. Simultaneously, the Petrograd Soviet, representing revolutionary workers and soldiers, was also established. Led by moderate socialists, it pledged to support the Provisional Government. Unfortunately for the stability of this temporary new order, the Provisional Government was unable to ease the fundamental political, economic, and social problems that had led to the fall of the tsarist regime. Rather, these problems quickly worsened. So it was that in the spring and early summer of 1917 Petrograd (then the Russian capital) was the scene of three major, mass anti-government protest demonstrations.

2The first, so-called April demonstrations, 20–21 April, were disorganized eruptions of popular opposition to the expansionist war aims secretly pursued by Pavel Miliukov, the fledgling Provisional Government’s Foreign Minister. These demonstrations forced Miliukov’s resignation, after which the Provisional Government was reformed as a liberal-moderate socialist coalition. Among its members now were several prominent moderate socialist leaders from the Petrograd Soviet. However, this new government was fundamentally divided, ineffective, and inherently unstable. Moreover, it was fiercely opposed from the start by Lenin’s left-wing Bolsheviks, whose radical program was captured succinctly in the increasingly popular slogans “All-Power to the Soviets!” and “Peace, Land, and Bread!”


N.N. Sukhanov, The Russian Revolution 1917: A Personal Record, edited, abridged and translated by Joel Carmichael, London: Oxford University Press, 1955.


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