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Duma Member: Right Or Left? Essay

1564 words - 7 pages

The first twenty years of the nineteenth century for Russia was such a time in which change and inconsistency were consistent. At the turn of the century, Nicholas II was struggling to keep power as aristocracy was losing it control over Russia. As serfdom was dying due to the emancipation, the lower class was rising for more representation. And while these two conflicting movements are happening, a world war was on the brink. In V.V. Shulgin’s The Years: Memoirs of a Member of the Russian Duma, 1906-1917, Shulgin gives his readers an in-depth look at Russia before the war, during the war, and after the war. As there are many accounts of this time in Russia’s history, there are few in which ...view middle of the document...

Shulgin cited that the Poles objective was to elect as much Poles into the Duma, and as a result they intentionally wanted less chairs to go to the Russians. He questions himself, asking “But how does one get, say, forty electors for the Second Duma out of the seven who turned up for the first?” He did so by attracting the Czech immigrants, priests, peasants and (like himself) landowners with about sixty representatives from Shulgin’s Ostrozhsk district; only thirteen would be elected as members of the Second Duma.
Although his leadership rose through the meetings of the Russians, he still had shown some division between the four groups. When discussing who to vote for on the eve of elections, Shulgin stated that the landowners had to worry about who they were going to vote for, and the peasants would worry about themselves. This almost brings out the autocratic views in Shulgin, as before the October Manifesto the upper class would not care too much about the serfs and peasants; in fact they didn’t too much afterwards. They would let them go about their own agendas after the emancipation in 1861, if they could. So although he manages to unify the southern Russians, he still has some sectionalist views, perhaps at a social standpoint.
It is rather interesting taking a look at Shulgin as a member of the Duma. As a rightist, he supported the Tsar and his control over Russia. However, he decides to participate in the Second, Third and Fourth Dumas, which can be regarded as the product of the October Manifesto and the reforms that would go along with it. As the reforms would favor more rights to the people, it becomes confusing that Shulgin would agree with this, unless he would not agree with that kind of change, but others that were promised through the Manifesto. He says abut Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin: “… I considered his program the only one that could save Russia and enable her evolutionary development to continue.” As Stolypin was extensive in his desire for reform, it becomes more confusing to see what direction Shulgin was headed.
As World War I began, Shulgin decides to join the army and the fight against Germany and Austria-Hungary. It was very rare for a member of the Duma to join the military, as they were granted exemption from the battles. This puts him aside from the other Duma members who did not join the army, as he wanted to fight. No one forced him to go, and no one influenced him; he did it to serve his country. This would be the second way in which he served his country, with the first being a member of the Duma. He could be seen as a true nationalist, trying to bring together Russia, by any means.
During the war, there were many times in which Shulgin showed his leadership capabilities. As his role in the army turned into picking up wounded soldiers during the Great Retreat of 1915, he shows those leadership skills. When picking up stragglers, he would have train cars to his area in no time to pick up the...

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