Democracy in the Russian Far East during the Revolution of 1905–1907
The First Russian Revolution demonstrated that there was considerable interest in democracy in the Transbaikal, Amur, and Maritime Regions in 1905–1907, which was widely shared across the empire and in East Asia. Democracy was understood as economic welfare, social justice, civil liberties, popular representation, decentralization, and national self-determination. Like elsewhere in the empire, protests started with economic demands, but many trade and professional political unions, strike committees, and soviets developed political programs. In Vladivostok, unrests among soldiers and sailors erupted into major riots with numerous casualties in October 1905, despite the attempts of Military Doctor Mikhail Aleksandrovich Kudrzhinskii and other intellectuals to make the movement peaceful. In Blagoveshchensk, the Amur Cossack teacher Mikhail Nikitich Astaf’ev joined a group of intellectuals who attempted to turn the municipal duma into a provisional government. In Nikolsk-Ussuriysky, Doctor Nikolai Vasil’evich Kirilov presided over the founding congress of the Ussuri Peasant Union, which discussed the introduction of rural revolutionary self-government. In Chita, Social Democrats under Anton Antonovich Kostiushko-Voliuzhanich took over much of the Transbaikal Railway. Tsyben Zhamtsarano and other Buryat intellectuals assembled for congresses demanding indigenous self-government. The recognition of these territories as the Russian Far East had already begun, but the loosely united Transbaikal, Maritime, and Amur Regions remained part of Siberia or North Asia for contemporary observers. The unity of Siberia from the Urals to the Pacific was reinforced by Siberian Regionalism which attracted the support of regional liberals and moderate socialists and consolidated through joint activities of Siberian deputies.