Terror in 1905



On 4 March 1905, just a hundred years ago, the grand duke Sergei Alexandrovich, uncle to the tsar and governor-general of Moscow, was crossing Senate Square in the Kremlin in his carriage when suddenly a young man approached. Ivan Kalyaev, a young poet aged 28, son of an army NCO and a Polish woman, was known to his friends as author of religious poetry which blended Nietzschean and socialist ideas. But for three years he had been a member of the Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries (PSR) ‘Combat Squad’, and it was in this capacity that he entered history, for the bomb he threw utterly destroyed the target vehicle. The grand duke’s head was severed from the rest of his body and rolled some way off, to be mocked by youths in the crowd that quickly assembled. The public reaction to the killing was one of indifference, or even approval, for Sergei had made himself unpopular in Moscow by his repressive policies. He symbolised the Romanov dynasty’s increasing isolation from ‘society’ after a year of unsuccessful warfare against the Japanese, and especially in the wake of the ‘Bloody Sunday’ fiasco two months earlier.


Central Committee Target Vehicle Russian Revolution White Terror Undercover Agent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. A. Geifman, Thou Shalt Kill: Revolutionary Terrorism in Russia, 1894–1917 (Princeton, 1993), pp. 55–6, 70–3 (Geifman, TSK)Google Scholar
  2. O.V. Budnitsky, Terrorizm v russkom osvoboditel’nom dvizhenii: ideologiya, etika, psikhologiya: II-aya pol. XIX – nach. XX v. (Moscow, 2000), p. 162.Google Scholar
  3. S.V. Tyutyukin and V.V. Shelokhayev, Marksisty i russkaya revolyutsiya (Moscow, 1996), p. 13Google Scholar
  4. M.I. Leonov, Partiya Sotisalistov-revolyutsionerov v 1905–1907 gg. (Moscow, 1997), p. 132Google Scholar
  5. A. Geifman, ‘The Kadets and Terrorism, 1905–7’, Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, 36, 1988, pp. 248–67.Google Scholar
  6. V.V. Kozhinov, ‘Chernosotentsy’ i revolyutsiya: opyt bespristrastnogo issledovaniya (Moscow, 1998), p. 69.Google Scholar
  7. J.W. Daly, Autocracy under Siege: Security Police and Opposition in Russia, 1866–1905 (DeKalb, 1998)Google Scholar
  8. C. Ruud and S. Stepanov, Fontanka 16: The Tsar’s Secret Police (Montreal, 1999)Google Scholar
  9. F.S. Zuckerman, The Tsarist Secret Police Abroad: Policing Europe in a Modernising World (Basingstoke, 2003) a sequel The Tsarist Secret Police in Russian Society, 1881–1917 (Basingstoke, 1996).Google Scholar
  10. N. Schleifman, Undercover Agents in the Russian Revolutionary Movement: The SR Party, 1902–1914 (Basingstoke, 1988).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. A. Geifman (ed.), Russia under the Last Tsar: Opposition and Subversion, 1894–1917 (Oxford, 1999), pp. 1–15.Google Scholar
  12. O. Figes, A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891–1924 (London, 1996).Google Scholar
  13. O.V. Budnitsky in Otechestvennaya istoriya, 5, 1995, p. 188.Google Scholar
  14. W.Z. Laqueur, A History of Terrorism (New Brunswick NJ, 2001), p. 5Google Scholar
  15. V.V. Shelokhaev (ed.), Politicheskie partii Rossii: konets XIX – I-aya tret’ XX v.: entsiklopediya (Moscow, 1996), p. 436.Google Scholar
  16. M. Perrie, ‘Politische und ökonomische Terror als taktische Waffen der russischen SR Partei vor 1914’ in W.J. Mommsen and J. Hirschfeld (eds), Sozialprotest, Gewalt, Terror: Gewaltanwendung durch politische und gesellschaftliche Randgruppen im 19. und 20. Jhd. (Stuttgart, 1982), p. 98.Google Scholar
  17. Geifman, Entangled in Terror: The Azef Affair and the Russian Revolution (Wilmington, 2000), p. 52Google Scholar
  18. A.I. Spiridovich, Partiya Sotsialistov-revolyutsionerov i yeyo predshestvenniki, 1886–1916 (Petrograd, 1918)Google Scholar
  19. V.A. Gerasimov, Na lezvii s terroristami (Paris, 1985)Google Scholar
  20. B.I. Nikolaevsky, Aseff the Spy: Russian Terrorist and Police Stool, tr. G. Reavey (Garden City, 1934).Google Scholar
  21. A.Yu. Bakushin, ‘Odisseya Leonida Men’shchikova, ili Azef naoborot’, Otechestvennaya istoriya, 5, 2004, pp. 162–76.Google Scholar
  22. A. Ascher, The Revolution of 1905, vol. 2, Authority Restored (Stanford, 1992), pp. 142–3, 243–4Google Scholar
  23. A. Ascher, P.A. Stolypin: The Search for Stability in Late Imperial Russia (Stanford, 2001), pp. 137–9.Google Scholar
  24. N. Lange-Akhund, The Macedonian Question, 1893–1908, from Western Sources (Boulder, 1998), pp. 95–100, 118–35, 201–4, 224–6 offers the best description in English of bandit operations.Google Scholar
  25. M. Glenny, The Balkans, 1804–1999 (London, 1999), pp. 202–4Google Scholar
  26. D.P. Hupchick, The Balkans (New York, 2002), pp. 298–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. V.I. Lenin, Sobranie sochinenii (Moscow, 1930–1), vol. 10, p. 12.Google Scholar
  28. P.H. Avrich, The Russian Anarchists (Princeton, 1967) was first in this field and is informative if somewhat indulgentGoogle Scholar
  29. V.V. Kriven’kiy, ‘Anarkhisty’, in Yu.P. Sviridenko et al. (eds), Politicheskie partii Rossii: istoriya i sovremennost’ (Moscow, 2000), pp. 210–26 offers a conventional account.Google Scholar
  30. V.V. Shelokhaev et al. (eds), Anarkhisty: dokumenty i materialy, vol. I, 1883–1916 gg. (Moscow, 1998), pp. 167, 630. Three bomb-throwers were executed, two were sentenced to 17 years katorga Google Scholar
  31. S.A. Stepanov, Chernaya sotnya v Rossii (Moscow, 1992)Google Scholar
  32. D.C. Rawson, Russian Rightists and the Revolution of 1905 (Cambridge, 1995).Google Scholar
  33. H. Rogger, Jewish Policies and Right-Wing Politics in Imperial Russia (Basingstoke, 1986), pp. 214–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ascher, The Revolution of 1905, vol. 2, p. 249. The assassin, Fedorov, was under the impression that he was killing a ‘reactionary’, for so he had been told by Kazantsev, the URP activist who hired him for 1000 roublesGoogle Scholar
  35. Ascher, The Revolution of 1905, vol. I, Russia in Disarray (Stanford, 1988), p. 260.Google Scholar
  36. S. Lambroza, ‘The Pogroms of 1903–6’ in J.D. Klier and S. Lambroza (eds), Pogroms: Anti-Jewish Violence in Modern Russian History (Cambridge, 1992), p. 240.Google Scholar
  37. D. Dahlmann, ‘Ein politischer Prozess im vorrevolutionären Russland: Sozialrevolutionäre vor Gericht’ in H. Haumann and S. Plaggenborg (eds), Aufbruch der Gesellschaft im verordneten Staat: Russland in der Spätphase des Zarenreiches (Frankfurt, 1994), pp. 217–41.Google Scholar
  38. J. Sanborn, Drafting the Russian Nation: Military Conscription, Total War and Mass Politics, 1905–1917 (DeKalb, 2003).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Keep 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations