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Provisional All-Russian Government

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Provisional All-Russian Government
Coat of arms Kolchak 1919
Full Name Provisional All-Russian Government of the Russian Republic
Common Name White Russia
Motto Сим победиши (In This Sign You Will Conquer)
Anthem "Glorious is Our Lord in Zion"
Official Languages Russian
Capital Omsk
Government Structure Constitutional Republic / Stratocracy
Head of State Alexander Kolchak
Head of Government Victor Pepelyaev
Currency Russian Rouble
Established November 18th, 1918 (founded)

October 12th, 1921 (dissolved)

Area (excluding colonies) Russia
Population (excluding colonies) Approx. 100 million (de jure)

The Provisional All-Russian Government, was the official executive, legislative, and judicial body of the anti-Bolshevik White movement first in Siberia, and later incorporating all White factions across Russia during the Russian Civil War. Composed of a dizzying array of factions in Siberia alone, the Provisional Government nevertheless managed to unite the myriad anti-Bolshevik elements present in Russia nominally under one flag. It was led for much of the war by Admiral-President Alexander Kolchak, who despite nearly toppling the Provisional Government in a coup, succeeded in forging a delicate balance between the fractious anti-Bolshevik factions.

Following the White victory over the Bolsheviks in the opening months of 1920, the PA-RG ratified the Treaty of Minsk with the Central Powers, before ultimately dissolving itself into the present government of the Russian Republic under President Alexander Kerensky.

History

Predecessors

Following the November 1917 coup d'etat which saw the Bolshevik Party abrogate its power-sharing agreement with Kerensky and seize sole power over Russia, dissent arose almost immediately (albeit slowly) across the vast expanse of the former Empire. In Siberia, organized anti-Bolshevik opposition only arose in the middle months of 1918, following the revolt of the Czechoslovak Legion in the aftermath of their attempted disarmament by the Reds.

The decisive defeat of Bolshevik forces in early engagements with the Czechoslovaks prompted a mass-uprising of anti-Bolsheviks across much of Siberia. By June, two major governments had emerged, the Constituent Assembly (KOMUCH) in Samara, and the Provisional Siberian Government in Omsk.

The KOMUCH was composed overwhelmingly of SRs under Viktor Chernov, while its counterpart in Omsk was dominated by a coalition of Kadets and conservative army officers. Despite their ideological differences, both sides recognized the need for unity in the face of war with the Bolsheviks.

The Congress of Omsk

The delegates of the two Siberian White governments would ultimately meet in November of 1918 in the city of Omsk, with the initial plans for a September congress in Ufa being discarded for fears of weakening fighting resolve against the Bolshevik offensive. Initially, the hand of the KOMUCH SRs was much poorer due to several Bolshevik successes, most notably the fall of their own capital of Samara. It was only the timely arrival of Boris Savinkov, and with him news of SR uprisings across Russia, which saved them from being utterly dismissed by the Omsk delegates.

Komuch small

The Committee Members of the Constituent Assembly (KOMUCH)

While the two factions did ultimately agree to form a united government, the entire project was almost toppled by a coup launched on the behalf of Admiral Alexander Kolchak, the Siberian Government's Minister of War. Many delegates stood on the verge of being arrested, but Kolchak's notable reluctance to assume the mantle of dictator was played on by Savinkov, who ultimately convinced him that alienating the very influential SRs would be a disastrous mistake.

Provisional Government of Autonomous Siberia - June 1918

Members of the Siberian Provisional Government in Omsk

Ultimately, Kolchak not only repudiated the coup, but agreed to support the SR-backed policies for agricultural reform that had been spearheaded by the KOMUCH.

The Congress of Ufa

Though the White "governments" in the rest of Russia formally recognized the PA-RG, it was not until the re-capture of Ufa in July, 1919 that a new congress was called in order to formally unite the disparate anti-Bolshevik fronts.

The Siberian SRs and Kadets remained adamant supporters of the Entente, an opinion which Kolchak shared at least outwardly.  Furthermore, Kolchak was feted as a candidate of compromise, and his prior agreements with the SRs seemed to strengthen his case. On the other hand, many Southern Whites remained wary towards the SR policies adopted by the Siberians. Kornilov, courtesy of a military record which Kolchak had no hopes of matching, boasted the adoration of much of the White Russian officers and soldiery.

After a week of fierce debate, it was ultimately decided that the two governments would unite under Alexander Kolchak as the 'Supreme Ruler of Russia' with Victor Pepelyaev as his prime minister, while keeping the name of the Provisional All-Russian Government. Kornilov and Kolchak were recognized as commanders of their respective fronts, followed shortly thereafter by Yudenich, and even Evgeni Miller’s almost non-existent "Northern Army" in Archangelsk. Most importantly, however, the Congress agreed to de facto cut contact with the Allies in order to appease the Germans.

Nevertheless, despite his gentlemanly concession to Kolchak's electoral victory, Kornilov and his cohorts nursed a bitter disappointment for what they saw as another retreat into a democratic system that had damned Russia.

Екатеринбург Штаб Сибирской армии

Admiral-President Kolchak with the staff of the now-united Siberian Army (November, 1918)

The Treaty of Minsk & Dissolution

Though the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk had been signed by the Bolsheviks, the Whites had little choice but to re-ratify it. With none of the White generals willing to besmirch their individual honour, it was unanimously decided that a troika of Russian political leaders would sign together. Kolchak, as Supreme Ruler, was the formal head of the trio, while his two companions were his acting Prime Minister Pepelyaev, and finally Alexander Kerensky, whose status as the last pre-Civil War head of state gave the delegation a connection to the prior regime.

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Kerensky, Kolchak, and Pepelyaev return from Minsk

Despite the protests of several German generals and politicians who had been involved in the Russian Intervention, the German terms remained as unflinchingly brutal as earlier. With heavy hearts, the Russian delegation signed their names to the treaty. Russia lay broken and humiliated after six years of war, but it was, at long last, at peace.

The Provisional All-Russian Government would ultimately not be dissolved until more than a year later, when the newly-installed President Alexander Kolchak ratified a bill on October 12, 1921, which saw the government transition into a permanent body for the re-created Russian Republic.

Politics

The PA-RG included representation from nearly every anti-Bolshevik faction represented in the White movement. Nevertheless, its initial creation from the union of Siberian SRs and Kadets had a profound effect on how the government was viewed within Russia, namely by dampening persistent fears that the White generals were simply planning on becoming petty dictators.

Пётр Васильевич Вологодский

Pyotr Vologodsky, widely-regarded as one of the most influential members of the PA-RG, and its president following the Congress of Omsk, until his replacement by Kolchak in July, 1919.

The Government would take a stronger conservative turn following its unification with the other White movements in Ufa, but no attempts were made to repeal the SR policies implemented earlier by Kolchak for fear of inciting the same sort of "Green" peasant uprisings which plagued the Bolsheviks in the final half-year of the war.

Nevertheless, the Provisional All-Russian Government's SR-Kadet character remained strong throughout the war, and transitioned largely intact into the new government after the October 12th bill of dissolution.

Military

Army

Like the Provisional All-Russian Government itself, its army was formed from the merger of the KOMUCH's "Peoples Army" into the Siberian Provisional Government's "Siberian Army." The Czechoslovak Legion and Orenburg Cossacks were likewise indispensible allies, particularly during the summer of 1918 when the Siberian anti-Bolshevik uprising first began.

Following the Congress of Ufa, the PA-RG incorporated all other armies of the White movement in Russia, albeit with the caveat that those forces outside of Siberia retained their own commanders and leadership structures.

Navy

Owing to the overwhelmingly land-based character of the Russian Civil War, the few ships that the PA-RG could muster in the Far East and, eventually, in the Black Sea, had little effect on the course of the war. Of course, this did not stop Admiral-President Kolchak from forming an elite marine regiment for himself in the same style as the "Officers" units prevalent in the Armed Forces of Southern Russia.

However, riverine craft played an important role for many battles along the Volga. With everything from purpose-built warships to refitted barges being used to deliver critical artillery fire in the many battles fought over Samara, Simbirsk, and Kazan.

Air Force

Initially, the bulk of the PA-RG's relatively small air force was provided by Great Britain and France, both from Weltkrieg-era stock, and later delivered along the Trans-Siberian Railway during the Civil War.

Towards the end of the war following the unification at Ufa, the overwhelming majority of the aging Entente aircraft were replaced with newer models shipped in from the Central Powers.

Foreign Relations

In contrast to the Armed Forces of Southern Russia and Northwestern Army, which had conceded to Germany in exchange for support fairly early into the Civil War, the PA-RG remained steadfastly pro-Entente until the Ufa Congress.

In the aftermath of Ufa, which saw the repudiation of ties with the Entente as an unspoken prerequisite for continued support from the Germans, the PA-RG severed itself from the Entente, which caused no small amount of consternation from their British and Japanese allies. However, this move guaranteed the PA-RG recognition and an even greater influx of vitally-important arms and supplies from the Central Powers.

See also

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