The public movement during the reign of Alexander III declined. The editor of 'Moskovkye vedomosty' and 'Russky Vestnik' M.N.Katkov became the mouthpiece of 'public opinion' during persecution and repressions against dissidence. He became the inspirer of a new governmental policy.
The revolutionary movement in the 80s and the beginning of the 90s is characterized first of all by the decline of populism and the expansion of Marxism in Russia.
From the middle of the 80s in Russia was created the first social democratic circles of students and workers.
The peasant movement during 1881-1894 remained spontaneous. The biggest number of revolts happened in 1881-1884.
The basic causes for disorders were the growth of various duties and seizure of peasant lands by landowners. The peasant movement gathered momentum considerably after the famine of 1891-1892, and peasants used to attack policemen and military groups, to capture landlords' properties and to do collective felling.
Meanwhile in its agrarian policy the government tried to keep the peasantry's patriarchal way of life trough its regulation.After the abolition of serfdom the process of disintegration of the country family went quickly, and the number of family allotments grew.
In 1886 there was passed a law of hiring of agricultural workers. It obliged peasants to sign up a contract with landowners, providing strict punishment for voluntary leaving landowners.
A great attention in the agrarian policy was paid by the government to preserve the peasant community. To preserve the community the government, notwithstanding the abundance of free lands, restrained the process of resettlement.
The labour movement of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s. The industrial crisis of the beginning of the 80s and the long depression that replaced it gave rise to unemployment and poverty. Owners of enterprises had no scruple in massive signing off, wage-out, increasing of fines. Working and living conditions of workers became worse.Cheaper women's and child labour were widely used. There was no daily working restriction. No protection of labour, and it entailed the growth of accidents. At the same time there were no benefits and insurance of workers.
In the first half of the 80s the government, trying to prevent conflicts, acted as the intermediary between hired workers and businessmen. First of all most malicious forms of exploitation were eliminated. Economical strikes and revolts at the beginning of the 80s as a whole did not overstep the limits of separate enterprises.
The most important role in the development of the mass labour movement played the strike on Morozov's textile mill (Orekhovo-Zuyevo) in January 1885. About 8 thousand workers took part in it. The strike was organized beforehand. Workers demanded not only of the owner (change of the fine system, the order of dismissal, etc.), but also of the government (introduction of the state control over the position of workers, passing of laws about terms of employment). The government took measures to stop the strike (more than 600 persons were repatriated, 33 arrested) and simultaneously put pressure upon owners of the enterprise to satisfy some claims in order to prevent future disorders.
The trial at the heads of the 'Morozovskaya' strike took place in May 1886 and exposed facts of arbitrariness of the administration. The jury justified the workers. Under the influence of the strike on the 3rd of June 1885 the government passed the law "about the supervision over the industry and the mutual relations between manufacturers and workers". The law partly regulated the order of hiring and dismissal of workers, normalized the system of penalties, and also established measures of punishment in case of participation in strikes.
The echo of the 'Morozovskaya' strike was a wave of strikes at industrial enterprises of Moscow and Vladimir provinces, St. Petersburg and the Donets Basin. The wave of strikes reduced during the crisis of the 80s, but rose again in 1880-1890. The labour movement of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s forced owners to increase salaries and to reduce the workday.
The foreign policy of Alexander III got his title of "Peacemaker" not at random: all through his reign the country did not wage any war.In the 80s Russia kept its priorities in the foreign policy. Having come to the throne, Alexander III continued his father's policy towards Germany. At the beginning of the 80s Germany remained the major market of agricultural production for Russia. Besides the union with Germany could become a support in the Russian struggle against England. Long negotiations with Germany, to which at Bismarck's request joined Austria-Hungary, finished on the 6th (18th) of June 1881 by signature of the new Austro-Russian-German "Union of three emperors" for six years. Despite its instability, "The union of three emperors" played an important role in the Russian-English conflict of 1885. The Russian troops, having occupied Turkmenistan in 1885, came close to the frontiers of Afghanistan protected by England. In March 1885 there was a military collision between a Russian advanced detachment and the Afghan army under the command of English officers.There appeared a real threat of war between Russia and England. Thanks to the "Union", Russia forced Turkeyto close its Black Sea straits for English navy, thus having secured its Black Sea frontier. In such circumstances England preferred to retreat, recognizing the Russian conquest of Central Asia. In 1885 the Russian-English military commissions started the demarcation of the Russian-Afghan frontier.
In the 80s Russia failed in the Balkans.
Relations between Germany and Russia grew worse. Bismarck prohibited the Deutchebank to grant loans on the security of Russian state-papers. In 1887 Russia increased duties on import of goods from Germany, and Germany did the same towards Russian production.Since then began the re-deployment of the Russian forces from the southwest frontier to the western one, that is from Turkey and Austria-Hungary to Germany. By the end of the 80s contradictions between Russia and Germany and Austria-Hungary became more serious than with England. In 1890 the new German chancellor Kaprivi did not prolong the 'reinsurance' treaty. Triple Alliance was renewed in 1891. The rapprochement of its participants with England was planned. At the same time Germany and Austria-Hungary tried to establish closer relations with Turkey. In such circumstances a turn towards republican France took place in the foreign policy of Russia.
The basis of the Russian-French rapprochement was the common opponents, England and Germany.
The political aspect was supplemented by the economical one. Since 1887 Russia received French loans. After conversion of the Russian public debt at the Paris stock exchange in 1888-1889 France became the main creditor of tsarist Russia. Loans were added by significant investment in the Russian economy.
On the 27th of August 1891 Russia and France signed a secret agreement concerning common actions in case one of the sides is attacked. The nest year, due to the increase of the German army, was elaborated the project of the French-Russian military convention.