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Reform or Revolution: a New Book by Vladimir Kara-Murza

Press Release
April 13, 2011

On March 22 and 24, the Moscow and St. Petersburg offices of the Russian United Democratic Party YABLOKO hosted the launch of Reform or Revolution: The Quest for Responsible Government in the First Russian State Duma, a book by Russian historian and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr. The book recounts the unsuccessful attempt by the Constitutional Democratic Party (Kadets) to form a government during the short period of existence of the first Russian Parliament in AprilJuly 1906.

The Kadets, who won Russias first parliamentary election and formed a majority in the Duma, maintained that only a fully-fledged constitutional system and far-reaching political and social-economic reforms could forestall a revolution and ensure the countrys peaceful development. In their quest to form a government and thus establish the precedent of parliamentary rule the Kadets found allies at the top levels of the Czarist regime. The book recalls a secret meeting between Kadet leader Pavel Milyukov and imperial palace commandant Dmitri Trepov at the Cubat restaurant in St. Petersburg. But the plans for a Kadet government were disrupted by Interior Minister Pyotr Stolypin, who convinced Nicholas II to dissolve Parliament.

Having dashed the hopes for a peaceful legislative transformation of the country, the Czarist authorities laid the ground for future revolutionary upheavals, said Kara-Murza, who called the failure to establish parliamentary government in 1906 one of the greatest missed opportunities in Russian history. The books epigraph is a saying by German statesman Otto von Bismarck: The strength of revolutionaries lies not in the ideas of their leaders, but in a small dose of moderate demands not satisfied in time.

Photo: Vladimir Kara-Murza

Speaking at the launch, YABLOKOs founder Grigory Yavlinsky congratulated Vladimir Kara-Murza on his book. Politics to a great extent means knowing the past, understanding the present, and looking into the future, Yavlinsky said, All of this is nearly impossible to find in todays Russia.

Photo: Griogry Yavlinsky, Vladimir Kara-Murza and Galina Mikhalyova, Executive Secretary of YABLOKO's Political Committee

Reform or Revolution: The Quest for Responsible Government in the First Russian State Duma (in Russian) is available online: http://www.yabloko.ru/books/Kara_Murza_sait.pdf


See also:

Understanding Russia

Press Release
April 13, 2011

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