Every year, thousands of nobles in debt mortgaged their estates to the noble land bank or sold them to municipalities, merchants, or peasants. By the time of the revolution, the nobility had sold off one-third of its land and mortgaged another third. The government hoped to make peasants—freed by the Emancipation reform of 1861—a politically conservative, land-holding class by enacting laws to enable them to buy land from nobility and pay small installments over many decades.
"In the provinces of Kharkov and Poltava in 1902, thousands of them, ignoring restraints and authority, burst out in a rebellious fury that led to extensive destruction of property and looting of noble homes before troops could be brought to subdue and punish them".
Worker strikes in Caucasus broke out in March 1902 and strikes on the railway originating from pay disputes took on other issues and drew in other industries, culminating in a general strike at Rostov-on-Don in November.
Russian progressives formed the Union of Zemstvo Constitutionalists in 1903.
By 1903 their total arrears in payments of taxes and dues was 118 million rubles".
The years 1904 and 1907 saw a decline of mass movements, strikes and protests, and a rise of political terrorism. Combat groups such as the SR Combat Organization carried out many assassinations targeting civil servants and police, and robberies. Between 1906 and 1909, revolutionaries killed 7,293 people, of whom 2,640 were officials, and wounded 8,061.
Union of Liberation established in 1904.
Nikolai Bobrikov Governor-General of Finland killed 30 June [O.S. 17 June] 1904 in Helsinki.
Vyacheslav von Plehve Minister of Interior killed 10 August [O.S. 28 July] 1904 in Saint Petersburg.
In December 1904, a strike occurred at the Putilov plant (a railway and artillery supplier) in St. Petersburg. Sympathy strikes in other parts of the city raised the number of strikers to 150,000 workers in 382 factories.
On 13 December [O.S. 30 November] 1904, the Moscow City Duma passed a resolution demanding establishment of an elected national legislature, full freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. Similar resolutions and appeals from other city dumas and zemstvo councils followed.
Tsar Nicholas II made a move to fulfil many of these demands, appointing liberal Pyotr Dmitrievich Sviatopolk-Mirsky Minister of the Interior after the assassination of Vyacheslav von Plehve. On 25 December [O.S. 12 December] 1904, the Tsar issued a manifesto promising the broadening of the Zemstvo and more authority local municipal councils, insurance for industrial workers, the emancipation of Inorodtsy and the abolition of censorship. The crucial demand of representative national legislature was missing in the manifesto.
The commission was headed by Senator NV Shidlovsky, a member of the State Council, and included officials, chiefs of government factories, and private factory owners. It was also meant to have included workers’ delegates elected according to a two-stage system.
Following the Revolution of 1905, the Tsar made last attempts to save his regime, and offered reforms similar to most rulers when pressured by a revolutionary movement. The military remained loyal throughout the Revolution of 1905, as shown by their shooting of revolutionaries when ordered by the Tsar, making overthrow difficult.
Half of European Russia's industrial workers went on strike in 1905, and 93.2% in Poland.
Ivanovo Voznesensk was known as the 'Russian Manchester' for its textile mills. In 1905, its local revolutionaries were overwhelmingly Bolshevik. It was the first Bolshevik branch in which workers outnumbered intellectuals.
According to Sidney Harcave, author of The Russian Revolution of 1905 (1970), four problems in Russian society contributed to the revolution. Newly emancipated peasants earned too little and were not allowed to sell or mortgage their allotted land. Ethnic minorities resented the government because of its "Russification", discrimination and repression, such as banning them from voting, serving in the Imperial Guard or Navy, and limiting their attendance in schools. A nascent industrial working class resented the government for doing too little to protect them, as it banned strikes and labor unions. Finally, radical ideas fomented and spread after a relaxing of discipline in universities allowed a new consciousness to grow among students.
The events of 1905 were preceded by a Progressive and academic agitation for more political democracy and limits to Tsarist rule in Russia, and an increase in strikes by workers against employers for radical economic demands and union recognition, (especially in southern Russia). Many socialists view this as a period when the rising revolutionary movement was met with rising reactionary movements.
By the end of January 1905, over 400,000 workers in Russian Poland were on strike.
With the unsuccessful and bloody Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) there was unrest in army reserve units. On 2 January 1905, Port Arthur was lost.
On 12 January, the Tsar appointed Dmitri Feodorovich Trepov as governor in St Petersburg.
By 21 January [O.S. 8 January] 1905, the city had no electricity and newspaper distribution was halted. All public areas were declared closed.
Controversial Orthodox priest Georgy Gapon, who headed a police-sponsored workers' association, led a huge workers' procession to the Winter Palace to deliver a petition to the Tsar on Sunday, 22 January [O.S. 9 January] 1905.
One of the major contributing factors that changed Russia from a country in unrest to a country in revolt was "Bloody Sunday". Loyalty to the tsar Nicholas II was lost when his soldiers fired upon people led by Georgy Gapon on 22 January 1905, who were attempting to present a petition to the tsar.
There were also strikes in Finland and the Baltic coast. In Riga, 130 protesters were killed on 26 January [O.S. 13 January] 1905, and in Warsaw a few days later over 100 strikers were shot on the streets.
In February 1905, the Russian army was defeated at Mukden, losing almost 80,000 men.
Following the assassination of his uncle, the Grand Duke Sergei Aleksandrovich, on 17 February [O.S. 4 February] 1905, the Tsar made new concessions.
Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia killed 17 February [O.S. 4 February] 1905 in Moscow.
Tsar Nicholas II agreed on 18 February [O.S. 5 February] to the creation of a State Duma of the Russian Empire but with consultative powers only. When its slight powers and limits on the electorate were revealed, unrest redoubled.
Tsar dismissed the Minister of the Interior, Pyotr Sviatopolk-Mirskii, on 18 February [O.S. 5 February] 1905.
On 18 February [O.S. 5 February] 1905, Tsar published the Bulygin Rescript, which promised the formation of a consultative assembly, religious tolerance, freedom of speech (in the form of language rights for the Polish minority) and a reduction in the peasants' redemption payments.
Eliel Soisalon-Soininen Procurator of Justice of Finland killed 19 February [O.S. 6 February] 1905 in Helsinki.
Elections of the workers delegates were, however, blocked by the socialists who wanted to divert the workers from the elections to the armed struggle. On 5 March [O.S. 20 February] 1905, the Commission was dissolved without having started work.
11 May 1905: The 'Group', the revolutionary leadership, called for the workers at all the textile mills to strike.
12 May: The strike begins. Strike leaders meet in the local woods.
13 May: 40,000 workers assemble before the Administration Building to give Svirskii, the regional factory inspector, a list of demands.
14 May: Workers' delegates are elected. Svirskii had suggested they do so, as he wanted people to negotiate with. A mass meeting is held in Administration Square. Svirskii tells them the mill owners will not meet their demands but will negotiate with elected mill delegates, who will be immune to prosecution, according to the governor.
15 May: Svirskii tells the strikers they can negotiate only about each factory in turn, but they can hold elections wherever. The strikers elect delegates to represent each mill while they are still out in the streets. Later the delegates elect a chairman.
17 May: The meetings are moved to the bank of the Talka River, on suggestion by the police chief.
On 24 and 25 May [O.S. 11 and 12 May] 1905, about 300 Zemstvo and municipal representatives held three meetings in Moscow, which passed a resolution, asking for popular representation at the national level.
On 27–28 May 1905, the Russian Baltic Fleet was defeated at Tsushima.
27 May: The delegates' meeting house is closed.
In June and July 1905, there were many peasant uprisings in which peasants seized land and tools.
Disturbances in the Russian-controlled Congress Poland culminated in June 1905 in the Łódź insurrection.
Surprisingly, only one landlord was recorded as killed. Far more violence was inflicted on peasants outside the commune: 50 deaths were recorded.
3 June: Cossacks break up a workers' meeting, arresting over 20 men. Workers start sabotaging telephone wires and burn down a mill.
On 6 June [O.S. 24 May] 1905, Nicholas II had received a Zemstvo deputation. Responding to speeches by Prince Sergei Trubetskoi and Mr Fyodrov, the Tsar confirmed his promise to convene an assembly of people's representatives.
9 June: The police chief resigns.
12 June: All prisoners are released. Most mill owners flee to Moscow. Neither side gives in.
27 June: Workers agree to stop striking 1 July.
Witte was dispatched to make peace, negotiating the Treaty of Portsmouth (signed 5 September [O.S. 23 August] 1905).
The Saint Petersburg Soviet was formed and called for a general strike in October, refusal to pay taxes, and the withdrawal of bank deposits.
The October Manifesto, written by Sergei Witte and Alexis Obolenskii, was presented to the Tsar on 14 October [O.S. 1 October]. It closely followed the demands of the Zemstvo Congress in September, granting basic civil rights, allowing the formation of political parties, extending the franchise towards universal suffrage, and establishing the Duma as the central legislative body.
A strike by railway workers on 21 October [O.S. 8 October] 1905 quickly developed into a general strike in Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
By 26 October [O.S. 13 October] 1905, over 2 million workers were on strike and there were almost no active railways in all of Russia. Growing inter-ethnic confrontation throughout the Caucasus resulted in Armenian-Tatar massacres, heavily damaging the cities and the Baku oilfields.
In the Governorate of Estonia, Estonians called for freedom of the press and assembly, for universal suffrage, and for national autonomy. On 29 October [O.S. 16 October], the Russian army opened fire in a meeting on a street market in Tallinn in which about 8 000-10 000 people participated, killing 94 and injuring over 200. The October Manifesto was supported in Estonia and the Estonian flag was displayed publicly for the first time.
The Tsar waited and argued for three days, but finally signed the manifesto on 30 October [O.S. 17 October] 1905, citing his desire to avoid a massacre and his realisation that there was insufficient military force available to pursue alternative options. He regretted signing the document, saying that he felt "sick with shame at this betrayal of the dynasty ... the betrayal was complete".
While the Russian liberals were satisfied by the October Manifesto and prepared for upcoming Duma elections, radical socialists and revolutionaries denounced the elections and called for an armed uprising to destroy the Empire.
Some of the November uprising of 1905 in Sevastopol, headed by retired naval Lieutenant Pyotr Schmidt, was directed against the government, while some was undirected. It included terrorism, worker strikes, peasant unrest and military mutinies, and was only suppressed after a fierce battle. The Trans-Baikal railroad fell into the hands of striker committees and demobilised soldiers returning from Manchuria after the Russo–Japanese War. The Tsar had to send a special detachment of loyal troops along the Trans-Siberian Railway to restore order.
In the Grand Duchy of Finland, the Social Democrats organised the general strike of 1905 (12–19 November [O.S. 30 October – 6 November]).
After a final spasm in Moscow, the uprisings ended in December 1905.
Between 5 and 7 December [O.S. 22 and 24 November], there was a general strike by Russian workers.
Viktor Sakharov former war minister killed 5 December [O.S. 22 November] 1905.
The government sent troops on 7 December, and a bitter street-by-street fight began.
A week later, the Semyonovsky Regiment was deployed, and used artillery to break up demonstrations and to shell workers' districts. On 18 December [O.S. 5 December], with around a thousand people dead and parts of the city in ruins, the workers surrendered.
According to figures presented in the Duma by Professor Maksim Kovalevsky, by April 1906, more than 14,000 people had been executed and 75,000 imprisoned.
The Russian Constitution of 1906, Created 6 May [O.S. 23 April] 1906, also known as the Fundamental Laws, set up a multiparty system and a limited constitutional monarchy. The revolutionaries were quelled and satisfied with the reforms, but it was not enough to prevent the 1917 revolution that would later topple the Tsar's regime.
Admiral Chukhnin the commander of the Black Sea Fleet killed 24 July [O.S. 11 July] 1906.
On 12 August [O.S. 30 July] 1906, Russian artillerymen and military engineers rose in revolt in the fortress of Sveaborg (later called Suomenlinna), Helsinki. The Finnish Red Guards supported the Sveaborg Rebellion with a general strike, but the mutiny was quelled within 60 hours by loyal troops and ships of the Baltic Fleet.
Aleksey Ignatyev killed 22 December [O.S. 9 December] 1906.