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These warnings threw confusion into the ranks of the Progressive Bloc, dividing its radical wing, represented by the Left Kadets and Progressives, from the more conciliatory wing of mainstream Kadets, Octobrists, and individual conservatives. The Kadets, bound by resolutions of the party conference, warned their conservatives that if they did not support them, the Kadets would introduce a still more sharply worded resolution.71 V. V. Shulgin and other nationalists expressed unhappiness over the Kadet proposal, arguing that public accusations of treason could have disastrous consequences. Eager to retain conservative support, the Kadets agreed to a bloc resolution from which the word “treason” was removed.72 The Progressive Party, unhappy over this compromise, withdrew from the bloc. The Left Kadets also threatened to defect, but Miliukov managed to dissuade them with the promise to deliver a “sharp” address in the Duma.73

The Duma opened at 2:30 p.m. on November 1 in an atmosphere laden with unprecedented tension.

Rodzianko, the chairman, began the proceedings with a brief patriotic address. As soon as he had finished, all the ministers, led by Stürmer and Protopopov, rose to their feet and left the chamber, followed by the foreign ambassadors.* The socialist deputies responded with hoots and catcalls.

S. I. Shidlovskii, the leader of the Octobrists and spokesman for the Progressive Bloc, delivered the first major address. He criticized the government for having prorogued the Duma in order to rule by Article 87, neglecting the food supply, and using military censorship to safeguard its “nonexistent prestige.” He warned that Russia faced serious dangers. The country had to have a government of public confidence: the Progressive Bloc would strive for this objective “employing all the means permitted by law.”74

Kerensky made a hysterical speech that in vituperation exceeded anything previously heard in the halls of the Duma.75 He accused Europe’s “ruling classes” of having pushed “democracy” into an intolerable war. He charged the Russian Government with conducting a “White Terror” and filling its prisons with working people. Behind all these acts stood “Grisha Rasputin.” Excited by the sound of his own words, he demanded rhetorically:

Gentlemen! Will everything that we are living through not move us to declare with one voice: the main and worst enemy of our country is not at the front, but here, in our midst. There is no salvation for our country until, with a unanimous and concerted effort, we force the removal of those who ruin, humiliate, and insult it.

Comparing the ministers to “hired killers” and pointing at their empty seats, he demanded to know where they had gone, “these men suspected of treason, these fratricides and cowards.”

Although reprimanded by the chair, Kerensky continued his diatribe, warning that Russia stood on the brink of her “greatest trials, unprecedented in Russian history,” which threatened anarchy and destruction. Russia’s real enemies were those who placed their private interests above those of the country:

You must annihilate the authority of those who do not acknowledge their duty: they [pointing again at the empty ministerial seats] must go. They are the betrayers of the country’s interests.

At this point, the chairman asked Kerensky to step down.

Although cheered by the left, Kerensky did not enjoy much respect from the majority of the Duma since his rhetorical excesses were familiar. It was a different matter when Miliukov mounted the rostrum, for he was widely known as a responsible and levelheaded statesman. His speech, only slightly less vituperative than Kerensky’s, carried, therefore, much greater weight. It must be borne in mind that his address was the result of a compromise struck between the left and right factions of the Progressive Bloc: in deference to the former, which included a sizable segment of his own party, Miliukov accused the government of treason; to placate the latter, he muted the charge, posing it in the form of a question.

Miliukov began by recalling the changes which had taken place in Russia in 1915 in consequence of military defeats and the hopes which these changes had aroused. But now, with the war in its twenty-seventh month, the mood of the country was different: “We have lost faith that the government can lead us to victory.” All the Allied states had formed governments of national unity, involving in the management of the war effort the most qualified citizens, without regard to party. And in Russia? Here all the ministers capable of gaining parliamentary support had been forced from office. Why? To answer his question, Miliukov resorted to insinuation of treason based on information which he claimed to have secured on a recent trip to Western Europe:

The French Yellow Book has published a German document outlining the principles of how to disorganize an enemy country, to instigate in it unrest and disorders. Gentlemen, if our government wanted deliberately to carry out this mission, or if the Germans wanted to use for this purpose their own means, such as influence and bribery, they could not have done it better than the Russian Government. [The Kadet deputy F. I. Rodichev from his seat: “Alas, it is so!”]


The government’s behavior caused rumors of treason in high places to sweep the country. Then Miliukov produced his bombshell/Citing from the Berliner Tagwacht of October 16, he reported that the private secretary of Stürmer, Ivan Manasevich-Manuilov, a journalist with a shady past, had been employed before the war by the German Embassy to bribe the conservative daily Novoe vremia. Why was this individual first arrested and then released? Because, Miliukov explained, as Manasevich-Manuilov himself had admitted to the prosecutor, he had passed on some of that German money to Prime Minister Stürmer. Miliukov went on to read from German and Austrian newspapers expressions of satisfaction over the dismissal of Sazonov as Foreign Minister and his replacement by Stürmer. The impression which these citations conveyed was that Stürmer had secret communications with the enemy and worked for the conclusion of a separate peace.

At this point, the right disrupted Miliukov with shouts of slander. When order was restored, Miliukov made some murky but ominous hints of pro-German ladies active abroad and in Petrogad. What did all these bits and pieces of information add up to? That something was seriously amiss:

We need a judiciary inquiry of the kind given to Sukhomlinov. When we accused Sukhomlinov, after all, we did not have in our possession the facts that the inquiry would uncover. We had what we have now: the instinctive voice of the entire country and its subjective certainty.

On his visit to Paris and London, Miliukov went on, he had been told that the Central Powers had access to Russia’s most sensitive state secrets. This was not the case when Sazonov ran foreign policy. Miliukov next mentioned a meeting between Protopopov and a German businessman in Stockholm the preceding spring (which was no secret and on which Protopopov had reported to the Tsar), once again planting in the minds of his audience the ideas of treason and separate peace. Referring to Stunner’s quitting the Duma earlier that day, Miliukov exclaimed: “He heard the shouts with which you welcomed his departure. Let us trust that he will never set foot here again!”

Reverting to the subject of his opening remarks, Miliukov said that once there had been a possibility of cooperation between the Duma and government but this was no longer the case. Citing Shuvaev’s “I may be a fool, but I am no traitor,” Miliukov concluded his speech with a rhetorical flourish, repeated several times. “Is it stupidity or is it treason” that Russia was unprepared to conduct operations in the Balkans after Romania had entered the war on her side? That she had delayed granting Poland autonomy until the Germans had beaten her to it? That the government treated as sedition the Duma’s efforts to organize the home front? That the Police Department instigated factory strikes and engaged in other “provocations” to provide an excuse for peace negotiations? To each of these questions, the audience lustily responded: “Stupidity!” “Treason!” “Both!” But, Miliukov answered himself, it really did not matter, since the effect was the same. His parting words demanded the dismissal of the cabinet.



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