In the summer of 1918, more than a year after the abolition of the monarchy, Tsar Nicholas II and his immediate family along with their servants were massacred by a Bolshevik firing squad. To this day, many Communists claim that the killings were justified thanks to the "crimes of the Romanov dynasty." Many members of the Romanov family were killed during the Russian Civil War while many others fled aboard to escape Bolshevik brutality. In the end, the death of Nicholas II ended an era of Russian history that began with Peter the Great.
Some (mostly monarchists) claim that the sudden death of Tsar Alexander III brought the downfall of Romanov Russia, while many others (including historians) point to the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, commonly known as Alexander the Liberator. During Alexander's reign, numerous reforms were enacted, most famously the Emancipation of the Serfs in 1861. By the time of his assassination, Alexander was proposing parliamentary reforms in order to combat revolutionary movements. When Alexander was killed by a member of the Narodnaya Volya (Russian for "People's Will"), his son and successor, Alexander III, decided to end this era of reform and reversed many of his father's policies and reforms. What if the Narodnaya Volya never killed Alexander the Liberator?
Point of Divergence
In 1881, members of the Narodnaya Volya plotted to kill the Emperor of Russia, Alexander II. On a Sunday in March 1881, the Emperor was traveling in a closed carriage to attend a military roll call at the Mikhailovsky Manège. The Narodnaya Volya placed themselves in the streets that flanked the Emperor's route, but an unknown leak allowed the state police to intercept the terrorists before they could carry out their plot. The Emperor was informed of the plot and his route was changed in order to protect him. Despite of this, Alexander sought parliamentary reform in order to counter the rise of revolutionary movements.
A parliament, similar to the one in Westminster, was established in the capital city of Saint Petersburg and Russia's first democratic election was held in 1886. Count Sergei Yulyevich Witte was elected the first Prime Minister of Russia. Witte was neither a liberal or a conservative, but he was considered to be the most enlightened minister in Russia and he attracted foreign capital to boost Russia's industrialization. Witte's time in office also saw the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, the creation of new "commercial" schools, and was known for his appointment of subordinates by their academic credentials instead of political connections. In 1895, Witte established a state monopoly on alcohol, which became a major source of revenue for the Russian government.
Following his resignation in 1905, Viktor Chernov was elected Prime Minister of Russia. Chernov's tenure saw a transition to democracy in Russia, albeit a limited democracy. Only men over the age of 18 were allowed to vote, although men from all classes could vote. Women were not allowed to vote, and (despite of Chernov's socialists views) Marxist organizations and parties were heavily censored and branded illegal. Many Marxists were exiled and fled abroad, including Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Ulyanov.
Russia's age of reform prevented her from getting involved in global conflicts, including the First World War. However, the Polish, Baltic and Finnish territories of the empire succeed in a violent manner and brought Russia into a political crisis. While in exile in the United States, Trotsky took advantage of the Great Depression of 1929 to spread Anti-Government sentiment and won the Presidency of the United States in what is often believed to have been a rigged election, since the American constitution only allows native-born citizens to be elected President of the United States.
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