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The Political Crisis of 70s-80s

The political crisis of the end of 1870 and the beginning of 1880.

The consequences of the Russian-Turkish war, poor harvest and famine of 1879-1880, industrial recession of the beginning of the years 1870-1880 created a sharp crisis situation. The peasant's movements strengthened again, there were agitations of students in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kharkov, the local-liberal figures acted for the introduction of the Constitution. Revolutionaries made series of terrorist acts. The situation in the country deteriorated.

The government answered by reprisals. Since August 1878, political crimes affairs were transferred from civil courts to military. In the same year was created a police service for struggle against the peasant's movement, and the detective police for prosecution of revolutionaries was organized. Searches, arrests became a usual phenomenon. In April 1879 (after A.K.Soloviev's attempt on Alexander II), in St. Petersburg, Kharkov and Odessa, provisional generals-governorships alongside with already existing constant generals-governorships (in Moscow, Kiev and Warsaw) were founded. All generals-governors received emergency powers (to prosecute to the military court, to subject to administrative exile, to arrest, close editions etc.). After the explosion in the Winter palace on the 5th of February 1880, organized by S.Khalturin, the government tried to save the dictatorship.

On the 12th of February 1880, the Supreme administrative commission on protection of the state order and public peace was created. The main official of the commission was one of the most cunning and dexterous dignitaries, the former Kharkov's general-governor, earl M.T. Loris-Melikov. He had exclusive and dictatorial power. Alongside with retaliatory measures, M.T. Loris-Melikov began the dialogue with local authorities (zemstvoes), promised to expand their rights, weakened the censorship, and displaced D.A. Tolstoy from the post of minister of education.

After the liquidation of the Supreme administrative commission (in August 1880), Loris-Melikov occupied the posts of Minister of Internal Affairs and chief of gendarmes, and tried to accomplish the realization of reforms in order to overcome the crisis. For the stabilization of the situation, senatorials were sent in order to investigate the facts of abusing, and the 3rd section was liquidated.
In January 1881,Loris-Melikov presented to Alexander II the project of reforms, with which he intended to overcome the crisis. He proposed the creation of an administrative and financial commission, including officials and "reliable" public figures, for the preparation of local governing reform and the revision of the conditions of repayment of peasants' grounds. Then the projects should be submitted to the appreciation of the general commission with the participation of the local city elected. On the 7th of March 1881, the King approved this plan named 'Loris-Melikov's Constitution'. However this very day Alexander II was killed in the act of terrorism.

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