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Counter revolution in Russia as army discipline collapses
General Korniloff and his staff Photo: 'The Russian Bolshevik Revolution' (1921) by Edward Alsworth Ross. Via the Internet Archive.

Counter revolution in Russia as army discipline collapses

Petrograd, 11 September 1917 - In what is being described as an attempted military coup, General Kornilov has called on the recently established Provisional Government to be dissolved and for its powers to be transferred to him so that a new government might be formed at his own discretion.

It is being reported that General Kornilov is now marching on Petrograd.

Russian Premier, Alexander Kerensky, has reacted strongly to this attempted counter-revolutionary power grab, dismissing the general from his post and branding him a traitor.

The Provisional Government has also issued an appeal to soldiers stating that Korniloff had been dismissed and urging them against being misled into obeying his orders.

British Pathé footage of Russia in September 1917. 

The state of the army
In recent weeks General Kornilov, addressing the Moscow Conference, had warned against any demobilisation of soldiers from the Russian army. He said that to do so in the current circumstances would not mean a gradual or orderly return to their homes for soldiers. Rather it would unleash a ‘great tornado, which would sweep eastward across Russia, completing the disorganisation of the railways and carrying famine and disorder throughout the country’.

The disarray and breakdown in discipline within the Russian army was underlined by evidence from General Alexeleff, former commander-in-chief of the Russian forces, to the Moscow Conference. 

General Alexeleff contrasted the character and conduct of the army under the old regime with that under the new. He claims that whereas the army had been poorly equipped under the Tsar, it had possessed a strong, warlike spirit. Now, however, the army was ‘well supplied with food and arms, but completely poisoned and enfeebled by the ill-interpreted and ill-applied doctrines’ which had led to a breakdown in relations between officers and soldiers.

The need for a quick resolution to this military unrest is highlighted by the fact that the key Russian Baltic port of Riga has fallen to Germany, opening a path for an attack on Petrograd by land and by sea.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.