1906 Russian Duma Meets

The Winter Palace
St Petersburgh
On May 6th, Czar Nicholas allowed elections to be held for legislative body the Duma, which met for the fist time on May 6th 1906. The Duma requested a range of reforms that Nicholas was not willing to meet. On July 22nd, however, Nicholas dissolved the Duma and embarked upon a ruthless suppression of dissent throughout the country.

After a year of protest and revolts, there was hope that elections for the Duma and the functioning of the body would bring about a new age in Russia. The election for the Duma took place on April 4, 1906. Before the election, thousands of opponents of the regime were arrested, and 79 newspapers closed with 50 editors jailed. When the elections were held, the 180 seats went to the Constitutional Democrats who were committed to significant reform, 200 of those elected were peasants, 18 were Social Democrats, and only 30 were Octobrists who were committed to maintaining the monarchy as is.

Before the Duma could meet, on May 6th, Czar Nicholas announced the implementation of the Fundamental Laws. These laws clarified the October Manifesto of 1905. Under the laws, a State Council was established to act as the upper house of the Duma. This upper house was controlled by Nicholas

The Tsar spoke at the first session of the Duma that was held at the Winter Palace on May 10 1906.
The Tsar spoke about his hope that his son would inherit a well ordered but enlighted state.

The members of the assembly then moved to the Taouride Palace. At there very first session, they called for the release of all political prisoners. In the following days, the Duma called for universal suffrage, redistribution of land, free education, and the abolition of all class privilege.

The government was not about to agree to any of the demands of the Duma. They feared releasing political prisoners would only encourage further unrest, and all of the other demands were considered far fetched.

The government made it clear how powerless the Duma was by ignoring the request of the Duma not to put to death eight workers who had protested. They were immediately shot.

The government rejected every request of the Duma.

On July 8, the Tsar announced that he was disappointed that the Duma had involved themselves in matters that they should not. He announced he was dissolving the Duma. To ensure rioting did not break out, large contingents of soldiers were deployed to the streets of all the major cities.

Several deputies moved to Vyborg in Russian Finland, and from there issued proclamations that had a signifcant effect in Finland where a national strike forced Russiato grant Finland greater autonomy.