On this day in history, March 8, 1917, the first phase of the Russian Revolution began in present-day St. Petersburg.
The March Revolution (sometimes referred to as the February Revolution due to the country’s Julian calendar) saw many protests against the Tsarist regime due to the lack of food.
For eight days, mass demonstrations took place, leading to violent clashes with the police. Russian army forces eventually sided with the protesters, and Tsar Nicholas II abdicated the throne, ending more than three centuries of Romanov and Russian dynastic rule.
A provisional government headed by Prince Georgy Lvov took control, but it failed to resolve the country’s growing problems: seizures of peasant land, nationalist independence movements and rising death tolls during WWI .
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Some 1,300 people were killed in the protests of March 1917.
In October, the Bolsheviks, a far-left political party inspired by the writings of Karl Marx and founded by Vladimir Lenin, toppled the provisional government in an almost bloodless coup.
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The Bolsheviks later became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and the revolutions of 1917 contributed to the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).