The WW I was a great burden to Russia. In 1915 573 industrial enterprises and in 1916 about 74 metallurgical works stopped working. The national economy could no more support the army of many millions, in which were mobilized 11 % of the agricultural population and above 0,5 million of skilled workers. The situation was aggravated by the huge casualties of the Russian army, which exceeded 9 million people in 1917, including 1,7 million killed.
By February 1917 the situation in Petrograd became explosive because of emergency situation with provisions (snowdrifts did not allow to bring to the capital railroad cars with flour). The 26th of February was a push of the revolution. On the night of the 26th of February the authorities carried out arrests and in the afternoon a large demonstration was shot down on the Znamenky Square. Conflicts with the army and police causing victims took place throughout the city. It evoked indignation not only of workers and intelligentsia but also of soldiers. The staff of the 4th company of the reserve battalion of Life Guards of Pavlovsky regiment opened fire on policemen.
On the 27th of February 70 thousand soldiers of reserve battalions of Volynsky, Priobrazhensky, Litovsky, Moscovsky reserve regiments and other units joined revolutionary masses. The universal political strike developed into the armed revolt. By the end of the day revolutionaries seized railway stations, bridges, the main arsenal, major government establishments, they crushed police stations and prisons, released political prisoners and simultaneously about 4 thousand criminals were set free.
On the 26th of February the chairman of IV State Duma M.V. Rodzyanko wired to Nicolay II about 'necessity to entrust a person enjoying public confidence to constitute a new government" and the next day he headed the Interim committee of the State Duma. This time the government considering the State Duma as the center of opposition and revolutionary movement sent Nikolay's II decree to the chairman of the Duma about recess of Duma till April 1917. In the evening of the 27th of February Nikolay II still not aware of the importance of the events, sent to the capital a special group (about 800 soldiers and officers) under the command of general N.I.Ivanov for suppression of "disorders" in Petrograd.
The Petrograd fortress, Winter Palace and the Admiralty was captured. The ministers of tsarist government were arrested. Troop trains with units to help General Ivanov stuck on railway. Nikolay II left the Headquarters and went to Tsarskoye Selo. In the evening of the first of March two tsar's highball express trains arrived in Pskov and here on the night of the 1st and the 2nd of March Nikolay II signed a manifest of creation of "responsible ministry" and suspended Ivanov's punitive expedition.
Meanwhile, the Petrograd Council of workers - deputies and its Temporary executive committee created in February, 27th brisked up its work. Among its 15 members there were 6 Mensheviks, 2 S.R., 2 Bolsheviks and 5 social democrats. The chairman of the Council became Menshevik N.S.Chkheidze, his assistants were Labourist A.F.Kerensky and Menshevik M.I.Skobelev. The Petrograd Council worked hard on organization of food supply of the population and troops in Petrograd and creation of militia.
On the 1st of March the Council published the well-known "order number 1" concerning the army, according to which many important functions of power passed on from officers to elective soldier's committees, all civil rights were given to soldiers, titles of officers were cancelled, etc. On the 1st of March the Council was transformed into the Council of workers' and soldiers' deputies. In total in March 1917 in Russia arosed about 600 Councils of workers', soldiers' and peasants' deputies, which played an important role in demolition of imperial administration in the country.
On the 2nd of March 1917 General Ruzsky by order of the chief of staff M.V.Alexeyev informed Nikolay II about demand of the Committee to solve "the dynastic question", i.e. about demise. At the same time in Pskov were received telegrams from commanders of the armies (also organized by M.V.Alexeyev). Being formally loyal, they unambiguously forces Nikolay II to demise in favour of his son Alexey. As a result the tsar wired to Rodzyanko about his demise in favour of his son but the telegram was detained and the demise was not announced because of the news about coming to Pskov of A.I.Guchkov and V.V.Shulgin, the representatives of the Interim Committee of the State Duma.
After the information on the situation in the capital (treason of the escort especially struck Nikolay II), on the night of the 2nd and 3rd of March the tsar signed the manifest of demise but already in favour of his brother Mikhail Alexandrovich explaining that he did not want to jeopardize his son. He broke the rules of succession according to which each member of royal family could abdicate only for him/herself, thus giving an opportunity to declare such demise invalid in the future.
After reception of the manifest on Nikolay's II demise in favour of Mikhail instead of Alexey, the majority of members of the Interim Committee, expecting that it could result into explosion of national displeasure and bloodshed, began talking about the impossibility of preservation of monarchy.
In midday of the 3rd of March a meeting between members of the Duma Committee and Provisional Government and grand duke Mikhail took place. After disputes and confrontations Mikhail Romanov, having known that his life cannot be guaranteed in case of his holding the throne, signed an act of demise narrating about his consent to accept the crown only in case of the same decision of the Constituent Assembly. On the 3rd of March the bill on structure and program of the Provisional Government was published. The government included most known and popular public figures and businessmen. Prince G.Е. Lvov, one of the most authoritative heads, became the Prime Minister and the Minister of Internal Affairs; the leader of Cadets, popular orator and the most influential figure in the government P.N.Milyukov became the Minister of Foreign Affairs; the leader of Octobrists A.I.Guchkov became the Military and Sea Minister; I.Konovalov, the textile manufacturer, one of heads of the progressive party, became the Minister of Trade and Industry, and M.I.Tereshenko (non-party man), the sugar manufacturer, known as the patron of art, held the post of the Minister of Finance; A.F.Kerensky, the orator and lawyer, became the Minister of Justice.
The February revolution extinguished more than the 300-year dynasty of the Romаnovs in a week with minimal casualties (in Petrograd almost 300 men were killed and 1100 persons wounded) and in the rest territory the democracy was established amicably basically). The reason was the acuteness of the national crisis in Russia, inveteracy of its roots, traditions of the first Russian revolution and also association of widest layers of the society in struggle against the discredited regime.