Report of the Chief of the Petrograd Okhranka, Major-General Globachev, to the Ministry of Internal Affairs on Events in the Capital, 26 February 1917
26 February 1917
In order to obviate the possibility of revolutionary activists making use of the spontaneous disorders which have broken out in the capital, today, 26 February, around 100 members of revolutionary organisations were arrested before dawn. These included five members of the Petrograd committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party.
Additionally, at a meeting in the evening of 25 February at the premises of the Central War Industries Committee, two members of the workers' group of that committee were arrested. These two had evaded arrest in January, when this criminal group had been liquidated. The other participants at this meeting were asked to disperse.
Today, 26 February, at 3.30 p.m., a crowd gathered near the City Duma. Three blank rounds were fired at this crowd, after which it dispersed.
At the same time live rounds were fired on Ligovskaya Street, resulting in injuries.
Substantial crowds poured out of various sidestreets onto Znamenskaya Square, where they were met with live rounds, resulting in dead and injured.
In addition, live rounds were fired at the corner of Nevsky and Vladimirsky Avenues, where a crowd of about 1000 had gathered, and also at the corner of Nevsky Avenue and Sadovaya Street, where the crowd had reached approximately 5000. No dead or injured were found at the latter place; presumably the crowd had taken them away.
By 4.30, the entire length of Nevsky Avenue had been cleared of crowds, and on Znamenskaya Square the police collected the bodies of about 40 dead and around the same number of injured. At the same time, the dead body of an Ensign in the Life Guard of the Pavlovsky Regiment, with his sabre in his hand, was found at the corner of Ital'yanskaya and Sadovaya Streets. His identity and the circumstances of his death are being investigated.
At 5 o'clock in the afternoon, on the corner of 1st Rozhdestvenskaya Street and Suvorovsky Avenue, troops fired on a crowd which had gathered there. Ten people were killed and several were injured, some of whom, it would seem, were taken away by their comrades.
In the course of today's disorders secondary school pupils appeared at various points in the capital. They were wearing large Red Cross armbands on the coats of their uniforms and white aprons under their outer clothes. They set out in groups to Nevsky Avenue as volunteers to pick up the injured and render them first aid. With the same intentions, students at women's higher education institutions entered the places where the injured were being held. They were extremely insolent to the police officers who tried to get them to leave.
During the disorders the rioting crowds in general behaved extremely provocatively towards the troops. In response to requests to disperse, the crowds threw stones and lumps of snow from the street. When the troops fired over the heads of the crowds as a warning, not only did they not disperse, they responded with laughter. Only when live rounds were fired into their midst was it possible to disperse the mobs. Most of the participants, however, merely took refuge in the courtyards of the nearest buildings, only to reemerge once the shooting had stopped.
It should be mentioned that the dead on Znamenskaya Square included two people in soldiers' uniform, and they were also taken away by the crowd. This circumstance suggests that in all probability those killed were not soldiers, but demonstrators who had put on the uniforms of lower ranking soldiers.
Once the mobs on Znamenskaya Square had been dispersed, the rioters began to congregate on Nevsky Avenue in the area known as Old Nevsky (from Znamenskaya Square to the Aleksandr Nevsky monastery), and on Goncharnaya Street. They then melted away into the buildings on the corners, form where they shot at the troops with revolvers.
According to reports received from our agents, a secret meeting of representatives of revolutionary organisations is scheduled to take place at 8 o' clock this evening in the Eliseev building on Nevsky Avenue. A F Kerensky, the member of the State Duma, and Sokolov, the barrister, will be present. The meeting will consider how best to use the disturbances which have arisen, and how to plan and lead them in future in order to further revolutionary aims. We propose to arrest those present.
Original held in GARF, f. 1788, op. 1, d. 74, ll. 34 - 35 ob. First published in A G Shlyapnikov, Semnadtsatyy god, Moscow-Leningrad, 1924. Republished in O A Shashkova (compiler), Fevral'skaya revolyutsiya 1917 - sbornik dokumentov, Rossiyskiy gosudarstvennyy gumanitarnyy universitet, Moscow, 1996, pp. 59 - 61. Translated by Dr Francis King.