Soviet Order No. 1

First Action of the Provisional Committee of the Duma

The Duma Provisional Committee that had been hastily formed after the revolutionary crowds reached the Tauride Palace nervously watched the emergence of this alternative government, and discussed how it should react, and how it could ensure the neutrality of the High Command. If the Tsar ordered the High Command to smash the Soviet, he might easily go on and smash the Duma. Only with reluctance did they begin to act.
   

At 2:00 a.m. on the 28 Feb, with the Soviet still in session in another part of the building, the Provisional Committee finally moved to issue two proclamations:
1) an appeal for order;
2) an explanation that it has had to take the responsibility for restoring national and public order1.

The Provisional Committee also decided to take over the Military Commission and the Food Commission that the Soviet had set up.
   

The following day the Duma Committee appointed a number of commissioners who took charge of the separate Ministries.
Bublikov caused a sensation in the Ministry of Transport by telegraphing all railway stations and informing them incorrectly that the old regime had fallen and that the State Duma had formed a new government. Subsequent messages corrected this somewhat premature statement.
Rodzianko also had the first of a series of very careful discussions with the commanders of all fronts, and attempted to allay their fears and ensure that there would be no assault on St. Petersburg.
Rodzianko then turned to the Military Commission which had originally been set up under the Soviet, and issued a proclamation calling upon the soldiers to return to their barracks and to obey their officers.
This immediately provoked the storm of protest from many troops, and appears to have precipitated the decision of some of them to draw up what became known as Order No. 1, on the following day on 1 March.

   

The Soviets and Order No. 1

The soldiers were extremely suspicious of Rodzianko's appeal. They had put their necks on the line during the mutiny and were disinclined to trust a politician who in their eyes was still closely associated with the tsar.
In the Soviet an appeal was being drawn up for the garrison in which the soldiers were asked to stop lynching their officers, but were reassured that they would keep their weapons. However these proceedings were interrupted by a group of agitated soldiers who suddenly appeared and insisted that the response should go much further.

 

They dictated the following demands:

   

Soviet Order No. 1:
1. Committees to be elected immediately from the ranks of all military and naval units
2. One delegate from each company to be elected to the Petrograd Soviet
3. Armed forces are subordinate to the Petrograd Soviet in all their political actions
4. Orders of Military Commission of the Duma are to be carried out only if they do not conflict with the orders of the Petrograd Soviet
5. All weapons to remain under the control of company and battalion committees, and in no circumstances to be handed over to officers
6. While on duty soldiers must observe strict military discipline, but off-duty soldiers enjoy the same rights as other citizens; saluting off-duty is abolished
7. Honorific titles of officers are abolished (Your Excellency)
8. All coarse conduct by officers towards soldiers (use of the familiar ty) is abolished, and cases of it must be reported to the committee.

   
Even the revolutionary politicians in the Soviet leadership were reluctant to accept these terms for fear of the response of the High Command, but at the insistence of armed soldier delegates they had no choice.
The Duma leaders and the military leadership were also horrified by this move.
This more than anything demonstrated to the Old Regime that the Revolution was for real and that it would be impossible for the politicians to keep any vestiges of the old regime.
It was following the passing of Order No. 1 by the Petrograd Soviet that Rodzianko realised that there was no way of saving the Tsar and that he would have to abdicate. It was Rodzianko's communication of this to the Tsar and the High Command that precipitated the abdication.