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Governing institutions from February till October of 1917.
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The policy of the Provisional Government
April crisis
Failure of Russian army's offensive
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The policy of the Provisional Government

In the Declaration of the Provisional Government of March 3, 1917 civil liberties extended both on military men, amnesty for people condemned on political cases, cancellation of national and religious restrictions etc. were proclaimed. Arrest of Nikolai II and some of supreme officials and generals was simultaneously authorized. Special committee of inquiry for investigation of their actions was established on March 4.

Radical democratization of army was carried out on agreement with Petrograd Soviet. Soldiers were required in line and when "discharging official duties" to observe strict military discipline, out of duty and out of line they could not be "belittled in rights, which all citizens enjoy". Command N 1 cancelled calling officers by their titles. They were not authorized to give out weapon, which was at the disposal and under control of company and battalion committees.

Despite the fact that the effect of the command was extended only to armies of the Petrograd garrison, it received universal circulation in front-line forces and at the rear, causing disintegration and non-effectiveness of forces. Court-martials were abolished in army, institution of commissioners for the control of activity of officers was introduced, about 150 supreme military officials, including 70 commanders of divisions, were transferred to the reserve. The governmental decree of March, 12 cancelled death penalty, and set up revolutionary-military courts.
The Provisional Government considered, that realization of cardinal reforms in all fields of life of the country was possible only on the basis of decisions of the Constituent Assembly. That is why it restricted itself to passing of temporary laws, adhering to the idea of not predetermining of the will of the Constituent Assembly.

However the Provisional Government was very active in questions of national self-determination. The Declaration of the Government was published on March 17, it declared the governmental consent to creation, in the future, of independent Poland with inclusion to its territory of German and Austro-Hungarian Polish grounds, provided that Poland were "in free military union" with Russia. On March 7 the Provisional Government restored the autonomy of Finland, but was against its full independence. However on July 5 the Seym of Finland passed "the Law on authority" which limited the competence of the Provisional Government to questions of military and foreign policy.

From February till October 1917 the social and economic problems, especially the question of land, were solved rather cautiously. The majority of parties and public associations agreed that land should be in hands of peasants, and the Constituent Assembly was to solve the question of land rearrangement. However there were irreconcilable contradictions when defining the essence of land reform: the liberal circles stood for land private ownership while radicals demanded transfer of all land to public ownership for usage without any buy-out.

In March the Provisional Government handed over to the state all Cabinet and appanage lands, and in April it set up a committees for realization of agrarian reform. Besides, acts, directed against popular in the country illegal seizure of landowners' lands, were published.
Condition of the industry was very difficult too. The First World War became a heavy burden for economy since the army devoured 40-50% of all material assets produced in Russia. The decline of industry became even more aggravated after the February revolution.

Transportation industry was in a difficult position too, as it was governed by elective councils and committees. The Ministry of Railways' Directive of May 27 gave them powers of public control, supervision and giving instructions to railway bodies, which disorganized management of railways. The All-Russian executive committee of railway trade union (Vikzhel) set up at the Ist All-Russian executive committee of railwaymen (July 15 - August 25, 1917), insisted that "the railway trade union should be quite independent".

The First World War resulted in a huge growth of government spending - from 5 billion roubles in the second half of 1914 up to 18 billion in 1916. After the February revolution only military expenditure for seven months of 1917 reached 14,5 billion roubles. This growth was caused by many reasons, including reduction of national produce by 32 %, excessive increase of wages, subsidizing of unprofitable enterprises, reduction of land-tax and real estate tax funds. All this led to reduction of rouble exchange rate (the growth of prices amounted to 500 % in 1917). Direct taxation of propertied classes was introduced with the purpose of reorganizing of the financial system on democratic principles. Indirect taxation intensified in August and monopoly on tea, sugar, matches was introduced. Credit operations brought 9,5 billion roubles in first half of 1917 and common incomes were supposed to be at the level no more than 5,8 billion, which did not cover expenses. Therefore the government increased release of bank notes. Bank notes were issued for the sum of almost 3,5 billion roubles in 1916, and for ten months of 1917 monetary issue was already 16,5 billion roubles.

The main problem of foreign policy after the February revolution was the question of participation of Russia in World War I. On March 14, 1917 Petrograd Soviet passed manifest "To peoples of the whole world" which refused aggressive purposes in war, annexations and contributions, but revolutionary war with Germany was admitted. In the address on March 27 to the citizens of Russia, the Provisional Government said that it would completely observe obligations to allies, defend against invading enemy and achieve lasting peace on the basis of self-determination of peoples.

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