THE 1917 FEBRUARY REVOLUTION. TESTIMONY BY A RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT

Author: Alexander SAVINSKY

THE 1917 FEBRUARY REVOLUTION. TESTIMONY BY A RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT

Alexander SAVINSKY

Below we print extracts from a diary kept by Alexander Savinsky, a diplomat who held a fairly important post at the Russian Foreign Ministry early this century.

Savinsky was born in 1868. Upon graduation from the Law Department of St. Petersburg University in 1891, he went to work at the Foreign Ministry. It was not very long before he was appointed to the key post of chief of Minister V. Lamsdorf's office. He kept the job under the next Minister as well. Subsequently he was named Envoy to Stockholm, from where he was transferred to Sofia in the same capacity in 1913.

The revolution of February 1917 found Savinsky in Petrograd, where he still served at the Foreign Ministry. Friendship with Vladimir Nabokov, a leading member of the Constitutional Democratic Party and Business Manager of the Provisional Government, enabled Savinsky to get first-hand information in addition to that available to himself. It included details of the abdication of Nicholas II and Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich.

1917, FEBRUARY. The opening of the State Duma was set for February 14. Asked whether the government was really going to open the Duma, Alexander Protopopov1 answered: "We certainly will open it, but in the event of any undesirable developments, we will immediately machine-gun it." The Golitsyn2 and Protopopov government really feared demonstrations by factory workers and took steps in advance to suppress them by force of arms: posted all over the city were notices by Khabalov, Commander of the Military District, warning that fire would be opened at the slightest sign of unrest; he also issued orders for machine-guns to be emplaced in the houses neighbouring on the Duma.

The opening of the Duma on February 14 proceeded peacefully. Both that day and later on, all speakers were careful to keep to a reasonably ...

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