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Entries / Political Parties (entry)

Political Parties (entry)

Categories / Social Life/Political Parties and Organizations

POLITICAL PARTIES, groups of people united by political opinions and goals fixed in party documents; possessing certain membership requirements, internal structure and types of activities stated in the regulations; relying on a certain social base. Political parties emerged in Russia in the late 19th century; their prototype was the secret organisation People's Will that functioned in Russia since 1879. In the 1890s - early 1900s the first All-Russian political parties were formed, they were the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party and the Party of Socialists-Revolutionaries, as well as the liberal proto-party association – the Union for Liberation. The formation of political parties started to speed up following the Manifesto of 17 October 1905, which declared freedom of speech, meeting and associations. In 1906-07 up to a hundred All-Russian, regional and national parties existed in Russia. Central Committees of almost all All-Russian parties were located in St. Petersburg. Among the legal political parties, registered by the Office for Societies' Special Cases of Petersburg Municipal Administration, the largest was the right-wing monarchical Union of the Russian People. Its main board and the editorial office of the party newspaper Russian Flag were quartered in the house of the leader of the Union A.I. Dubrovin (6 Fourth Company). The Central Committee of the right-wing liberal Union of 17 October (leader A.I. Guchkov) was housed at 30 Liteiny Avenue from November 1906. The largest liberal party of Russia was the Constitutional and Democratic Party (Constitutional Democrats or Cadets; the party's second name from 1906 was Party for People's Freedom), struggling for constitutional monarchy, was not officially registered and functioned semi-legally. Its Duma faction and the Central Committee met in the party club (Sergievskaya Street, today 83 Tchaikovskogo Street). The editorial office of the party's central organ, the newspaper Speech was located at 21 Zhukovskogo Street from 1906 to the end of 1917. Russian left-wing political parties (Socialist People's Party, Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party, Party of Socialist Revolutionaries, Union of Socialists Revolutionaries Maximalists and others) operated illegally, their central governing bodies and editorial staffs did not have any permanent locations in Russia. Since 1906 the Taurida Palace, where the State Duma met for its sessions, became one of the leading centres of St. Petersburg political life. Constitutional Democrats, Octobrists, Social Democrats, Socialist-Revolutionaries, Progressists, Nationalists, Labour groups and right-wing parties had their factions represented in it. During the Duma election campaign, Petersburg city authorities granted legal parties with premises to have election offices in different parts of the city. Populous election meetings and other party actions took place in the halls of Tenishevsky School (33 Mokhovaya Street), Ligovsky People's House (61 Tambovskaya Street), People's House of Nobel (Nyustadskaya Street, today 19 Lesnoy Avenue), Kalashnikovskaya Corn Exchange (Kalashnikovsky Avenue, today 33 Bakunina Avenue), Solyanoy Settlement and others. After the February Revolution of 1917 all political parties (except for the ultra-right) became legal, the structure of the Russian multi-party system greatly changed, the activities of almost all political parties became much more visible. With the disappearance of monarchist parties and the Union of 17 October, Constitutional Democrats, who had become republicans after the Eighth Congress (held in March 1917 in Mikhailovsky Theatre - Mikhailovskaya Square, today 1 Arts Square), moved to the right wing. The leader of Constitutional Democrats, P.N. Milyukov, became Minister for Foreign Affairs of the First Provisional Government. In 1917 the leading party bodies of Constitutional Democrats were quartered in the newly established party club (Frantsuzskaya Embankment, today 8 Kutuzova Embankment). In May 1917 representatives of Socialist-Revolutionary and Mensheviks went into the Provisional Government. The majority of Menshevik groups consolidated into the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party in August 1917. The Chairman of the Social Democrats (who later became chairman for the Mensheviks) in the State Duma, N.S. Chkheidze, was elected Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet (March 1917). The Organisational Committee and Petersburg Committee (PK) of the Mensheviks was located in the building of the former Quarters of the Special Gendarme Corps (40 Furshtatskaya Street). The editorial office of the Mensheviks Workers' Newspaper was also located there from June 1917. The ideologist of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, V.M. Chernov, became Minister of Agriculture in May 1917; another famous party figure - lawyer A.F. Kerensky - headed the Provisional Government. The Central Committee of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party worked in 1917 at 29 Galernaya Street. On the extreme left-wing of politics were the Bolsheviks [from April 1917 the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party (of Bolsheviks)], aiming for a socialist revolution, and left-wing Socialist Revolutionaries, who formed a bloc with Bolsheviks (in November 1917, creating the Party of Left-Wing Socialist Revolutionaries). In March - June 1917 the headquarters of the Bolsheviks were arranged in the mansion of Kschessinskaya that housed the Central Committee and Petrograd Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party (of Bolsheviks) and other party establishments. The editorial office of the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda (Truth) was at that time at 32 Fontanka River Embankment. After the February Revolution the Taurida Palace was occupied by the Provisional Committee of the State Duma (right wing) and the Petrograd Soviet (left wing). Until September 1917 the Petrograd Soviet was controlled by Socialists-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, then by Bolsheviks. In August it moved to the building of the Smolny Institute, which became the new centre of city political life. On 24-26 October (old style: 6-8 November) the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee and Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party (of Bolsheviks) guided the coup d'etat, that initiated the October Revolution of 1917, from Smolny. Shortly after the Revolution of 1917, the Party of Constitutional Democrats was declared an enemy of the people and banned. Until the summer of 1918, only the Party of Left-Wing Socialist Revolutionaries and the Union of Socialist Revolutionaries Maximalists that formed a political bloc with the Bolsheviks functioned legally. After the February Revolution of 1917, various anarchist political parties took advantage of the political chaos and occupied several mansions and began their own campaigns. In March 1918 the governing bodies of the Bolshevik Party were moved to Moscow. Shortly afterwards, the party strengthened its monopoly in the political system of Soviet Russia. The revival of multi-party system only occurred during perestroika of the late 1980s - early 1990s. The appearance of numerous informal associations: Political clubs (Perestroika, etc.), Historical Educational Societies, Popular Front and Public Movements marked the return to the political pluralism; in 1989 these associations numbered about 60,000 people. On their basis the first political parties were formed: Democratic Union (1988), Christian Democratic Union of Russia (1989), Liberal Democratic Party of the USSR (1989, today Liberal Democratic Party of Russia), Democratic Party of Russia (1990) and others. By the beginning of 2003, over 40 parties were registered in the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation under the law on political parties (2001). In St. Petersburg in 2003 the following parties are strongly supported: Centrist Party Edinaya Rossia (United Russia), Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Left-Wing Liberal Party Yabloko and Right-Wing Soyuz Pravykh Sil (SPS, Union of Right Forces Party) (possessing their faction in the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg). In the 1990s many democratic parties had their headquarters in St. Petersburg in one and the same building - at 8 Izmailovsky Avenue, left-wing parties - in the former House of Political Education of the Regional Party Committee of Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1 Proletarskoy Diktatury Street). In 2003 Democratic Russia, United Russia, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, National Patriotic Union, Party of Russian Regions, Russian Communist Labour Party (with its Central Committee in St. Petersburg), Union of Right Forces Party, Free Democrats of Russia, Yabloko and other parties had their offices in St. Petersburg.

References: Общественно-политические движения и партии России: Справ. М., 1994-1995. Вып. 1-2; Политические партии России, конец XIX - первая треть XX в.: Энцикл. М., 1996; Политические партии, движения и организации современной России на рубеже веков: (Аналит. справ.). СПб., 1999.

A. G. Kalmykov.

Chernov Viktor Mikhailovich
Chkheidze Nikolay Semenovich
Dubrovin Alexander Ivanovich
Guchkov Alexander Ivanovich
Kerensky Alexander Fedorovich
Milyukov Pavel Nikolaevich

4th Krasnoarmeiskaya St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 6
Bakunina Ave/Saint Petersburg, city, house 33
Fontanka River Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 32
Furshtatskaya St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 40
Iskusstv Square/Saint Petersburg, city, house 1
Izmailovsky Avenue/Saint Petersburg, city, house 8
Kutuzova Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 8
Lesnaya Ave/Saint Petersburg, city, house 19
Liteiny Ave/Saint Petersburg, city, house 30
Mokhovaya St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 33
Proletarskoy Diktatury St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 1
Tambovskaya St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 61
Tchaikovskogo St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 83
Zhukovskogo Street/Saint Petersburg, city, house 21

Политические партии России, конец XIX - первая треть XX в.: Энцикл. М., 1996
Общественно-политические движения и партии России: Справ. М., 1994-1995
Политические партии, движения и организации современной России на рубеже веков: (Аналит. справочник). СПб., 1999

The subject Index
Narodnaya Volya
Union of Liberation, political organization
Rech (The Speech), newspaper
Tauride Palace
State Duma
Tenishev's School
Solyanoy Settlement
February Revolution of 1917
Provisional Government of 1917
Kschessinska Mansion
Pravda (The Truth), newspaper
Smolny Institute
Perestroika (Restructuring), club