Written by Vladimir Moss



     On February 28, 1917, the Tsar set off by train from Army Headquarters in Mogilev to his family in Tsarskoye Selo. But then, in accordance with the plan of the Masonic plotter, Alexander Guchkov, the train was stopped first at Malaya Vishera, then at Dno. This was supposedly because the stations further down the line were in the hands of the rebels.

     The Russian word “Dno” means “bottom” or “abyss” – it was precisely at this spot that Imperial Russia reached the bottom of her historical path, and Orthodox Russia stood at the edge of the abyss.. 

     Archpriest Lev Lebedev continues the story: “Movement along the railway lines was already controlled by the appointee of the Masons and revolutionary Bublikov (a former assistant of the Minister of Communications).[1] Incidentally, he later admitted: ‘One disciplined division from the front would have been sufficient to put down the rebellion’. But Alexeyev, Brusilov and Ruzsky did not allow even one division as far as Petrograd, as we shall now see! It was decided to direct the Tsar’s train to Pskov, so as then to attempt to get through to Tsarskoye Selo via Pskov. The Tsar hoped that the whole situation could be put right by General Ivanov, who at that moment was moving towards Tsarskoye Selo by another route. So everything was arranged so that his Majesty should be in Pskov, where the Headquarters of the Commander of the Northern Front, General Ruzsky, was. The Tsar was very much counting on him. Not knowing that he was one of the main traitors… It has to be said again that this lack of knowledge was not the result of bad work on the part of the police. The Masons had done their conspiring well. Moreover, it did not enter the heads either of the police or of his Majesty that fighting generals, commanders of fronts, the highest ranks in the army, ‘the most noble gentlemen’ from the Duma, the ministries and institutions could be plotters!...


     “On March 1 there arrived at the Duma new military units, or their deputations, with declarations of fidelity to ‘the new power’. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon there arrived Great Prince Kyril Vladimirovich at the head of the Guards Naval Squadron. He told Rodzyanko that he was at his disposal…

     “On the same March 1 the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies issued the famous ‘Order No. 1’ to the army, signed by the Mason N.D. Sokolov. Its essence was that soldiers’ committees should be elected by the troops and that only those orders of the Military Commission of the State Duma should be carried out which did not contradict the orders of the Soviet (!), and that all the weapons of the army should be at the disposal and under the control of the company and battalion elected committees and in no circumstances were ‘to be given to the officers, even at their demand’. Saluting and addressing [officers] by their titles were also rescinded. This was the beginning of the collapse of the Russian army. After the departure of his Majesty from Stavka General Alexeyev at 1.15 a.m. on March 1, without the knowledge of the Tsar, sent General Ivanov telegram No. 1833, which for some reason he dated February 28, in which he held Ivanov back from decisive actions by referring to ‘private information’ to the effect that ‘complete calm had arrived’ in Petrograd, that the appeal of the Provisional Government spoke about ‘the inviolability of the monarchical principle in Russia’, and that everyone was awaiting the arrival of His Majesty in order to end the matter through peace, negotiations and the averting of ‘civil war’. Similar telegrams with completely false information were sent at the same time to all the chief commanders (including Ruzsky). The source of this lie was the Masonic ‘headquarters’ of Guchkov. ‘Brother’ Alexeyev could not fail to believe the ‘brothers’ from the capital, moreover he passionately wanted to believe, since only in this could there be a ‘justification’ of his treacherous actions. General Ivanov slowly, but surely moved towards the capital. The railwaymen were forced, under threat of court martial, to carry out his demands. At the stations, where he was met by revolutionary troops, he acted simply – by commanding them: ‘On your knees!’ They immediately carried out the command, casting their weapons on the ground…”[2]

     “Meanwhile, the Tsar arrived in Pskov. On the evening of March 1, 1917 there took place between him and General Ruzsky a very long and difficult conversation. N.V. Ruzsky, who thought the same about the situation in the capital as Alexeyev, on the instructions of Rodzyanko kept saying unashamedly to the members of the royal suite: ‘It remains only to cast ourselves on the mercy of the conquerors’, supposing that ‘the conquerors’ were the Masonic ‘Progressive Bloc’ of the State Duma… Unexpectedly for Nicholas II, Ruzsky ‘heatedly’ began to demonstrate to him the necessity of a ‘responsible ministry’. His Majesty calmly objected: ‘I am responsible before God and Russia for everything that has happened and will happen; it does not matter whether the ministers will be responsible before the Duma and the State Council. If I see that what the ministers are doing is not for the good of Russia, I will never be able to agree with them, comforting myself with the thought that the matter is out of my hands.’ The Tsar went on to go through the qualities of all the main actors of the Duma and the ‘Bloc’, showing that none of them had the necessary qualities to rule the country. However, all this was not simply an argument on political questions between two uninvolved people. From time to time in the course of this strange conversation his Majesty received witnesses to the fact that this was the position not only of Ruzsky, but also of Alexeyev. The latter sent a panicky telegram from Headquarters about the necessity immediately of bestowing ‘a responsible ministry’ and even sent him the text of a royal manifesto composed by him to this effect! Besides, it turned out that his Majesty could not even communicate with anyone by direct line! The Tsar sent [V.N.] Voeikov (the palace commandant) to telegraph his reply to Alexeyev. Voeikov demanded access to the telegraph apparatus from General Davydov (also a traitor from Ruzsky’s headquarters). Ruzsky heard the conversation and declared that it was impossible to hand over the apparatus. Voeikov said that he was only carrying out ‘the command of his Majesty’. Ruzsky said that ‘he would not take such an insult (?!), since he, Ruzsky, was the commander-in-chief here, and his Majesty’s communications could not take place through his headquarters without his, Ruzsky’s, knowledge, and that at the present worrying time he, Ruzsky would not allow Voeikov to use the apparatus at all! The Tsar understood that practically speaking he was already separated from the levers and threads of power. The members of his suite also understood this. One of them recalled that the behaviour and words of Ruzsky (on casting themselves ‘on the mercy of the conquerors’) ‘undoubtedly indicated that not only the Duma and Petrograd, but also the higher commanders at the front were acting in complete agreement and had decided to carry out a coup. We were only perplexed when this took place.’[3] It began ‘to take place’ already in 1915, but the final decision was taken by Alexeyev and Ruzsky during a telephone conversation they had with each other on the night from February 28 to March 1. I. Solonevich later wrote that ‘of all the weak points in the Russian State construction the heights of the army represented the weakest point. And all the plans of his Majesty Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich were shattered precisely at this point’.

     “In view of the exceptional and extraordinary importance of the matter, we must once again ask ourselves: why was it precisely this point in the ‘construction’ that turned out to be the weakest? And once again we reply: because it was eaten up from within by the rust of Masonry, its propaganda. Then there is one more question: how did this become possible in the Russian Imperial army? And again the reply: only because, since the time of Peter I, through the implanting of Masonry into Russia, the ideological idol of ‘service to Russia and the Fatherland’ was raised in the consciousness of the nobility, and in particular the serving, military nobility, above the concept of service to God and the Tsar, as was demanded by the direct, spiritual-mystical meaning of the Oath given by the soldiers personally, not to some abstraction, but to a given, concrete Sovereign before God! The emperors of the 19th century did not pay due attention to this danger, or were not able to destroy this idol-worship. In truth, the last of them, his Majesty Nicholas II, was now paying in full for this, ‘suffering for the mistakes of his predecessors’.

     “Seeing the extreme danger of the situation, at 0.20 a.m. on the night from March 1 to March 2 the Tsar sent this telegram to General Ivanov, who had already reached Tsarskoye Selo: ‘I ask you to undertake no measures before my arrival and your report to me.’ It is possible that, delighted at this text, Ruzsky, behind the back of his Majesty, on his own authority and against the will of the Tsar, immediately rescinded the sending of soldiers of the Northern Front to support Ivanov and ordered them to return the military echelons which had already been sent to Petrograd. At the same time Alexeyev from Headquarters, in the name of his Majesty, but without his knowledge and agreement, ordered all the units of the South-Western and Western fronts that had earlier been sent to Petrograd to return and stop the loading of those who had only just begun to load. The faithful officers of the Preobrazhensky regiment recalled with pain how they had had to submit to this command. They did not know that this was not the command of the Tsar, but that Alexeyev had deceived them!

     “After this everything took place catastrophically quickly. His Majesty agreed to a ‘responsible government’. But when Rodzyanko was told about this in Petrograd, he replied that this was already not enough: for the salvation of Russia and the Dynasty, and the carrying through of the war to victory, everyone (who was everyone?) was demanding the abdication of his Majesty Nicholas II in favour of his son, the Tsarevich Alexis, with Great Prince Michael as regent over him. Moreover, Rodzyanko again, without any gnawing of conscience, lied to Alexeyev and Ruzsky that the Provisional Government had complete control of the situation, that ‘everybody obeyed him (i.e. Rodzyanko) alone’… He was hiding the fact that ‘everyone’ (that is, the Soviet first of all) was frightened, as of fire, of the return of the Tsar to the capital! For they were not sure even of the mutinous reservists, and if even only one warlike unit (even if only a division) were to arrive from the front – that would the end for them all and for the revolution! We can see what the real position of the Provisional Government was from the fact that already on March 1 the Soviet had expelled it from its spacious accommodation in the Tauris palace, which it occupied itself, into less spacious rooms, and refused Rodzyanko a train to go to negotiate with the Tsar. So Rodzyanko was compelled to beg. The Soviet gave him two soldiers to go to the post, since on the road the ‘ruler of Russia’, whom everyone supposedly obeyed, might be attacked or completely beaten up… One of the main leaders of the Soviet in those days was Sukhanov (Himmer). In his notes he conveyed an accurate general picture of the state of things. It turns out that the ‘progressivists’ of the Duma on that very night of March 1 in a humiliating way begged Himmer, Nakhamkes and Alexandrovich to allow them to create a ‘government’. Himmer wrote: ‘The next word was mine. I noted either we could restrain the masses or nobody could. The real power, therefore, was with us or with nobody. There was only one way out: agree to our conditions and accept them as the government programme.’ And the Provisional Committee (the future ‘government’) agreed! Even Guchkov (!) refused to take part in such a government. He joined it later, when the Bolsheviks allowed them to play a little at a certain self-sufficiency and supposed ‘independence’ before the public.

     “… But Rodzyanko lied and deceived the generals, since it was his direct responsibility before the ‘senior brothers’ by all means not to allow the arrival of military units and the Tsar into Petrograd at that moment!

     “At 10.15 a.m. on March 2 Alexeyev on his own initiative sent to all the front-commanders and other major military leaders a telegram in which, conveying what Rodzyanko was saying about the necessity of the abdication of his Majesty for the sake of the salvation of the Monarchy, Russia and the army, and for victory over the external foe, he added personally on his own part..: ‘It appears that the situation does not allow any other resolution.’ By 2.30 on March 2 the replies of the commanders had been received. Great Prince Nicholas Nikolayevich replied, referring to the ‘fateful situation’: ‘I, as a faithful subject (?!), consider it necessary, in accordance with the duty of the oath and in accordance with the spirit of the oath, to beseech Your Imperial Majesty on my knees’ (… to abdicate). General Brusilov (the future Bolshevik ‘inspector of cavalry’) also replied that without the abdication ‘Russia will collapse’. General Evert expressed the opinion that ‘it is impossible to count on the army in its present composition for the suppression of disorders’. This was not true! The army as a whole, and some units in particular, was devoted to his Majesty. Masonic and revolutionary propaganda was indeed being carried out in it, but it did not have the necessary success as long as the Tsar remained at the head of his Army. General Sakharov, while reviling the Duma for all he was worth (‘a thieving band of men… which has taken advantage of a propitious moment’), nevertheless, ‘sobbing, was forced to say that abdication was the most painless way out’… To these replies Alexeyev appended his own opinion, which was also in favour of the abdication of the Tsar. Only the commander of the Guards Cavalry, General Khan-Hussein of Nakhichevan (a Muslim) remained faithful to the Russian Orthodox Autocrat! ‘I beseech you not to refuse to lay at the feet of His Majesty the boundless devotion of the Guards Cavalry and our readiness to die for our adored Monarch’, was his reply to Alexeyev. But the latter did not pass on this reply to the Tsar in Pskov. They also did not tell him that Admiral Rusin in Headquarters had more or less accused Alexeyev and his assistant General Lukomsky of ‘treason’ when they had suggested that the admiral sign the text of a general telegram to his Majesty in the name of all the commanders expressing the opinion that abdication was necessary. Then Rusin voluntarily refused to serve the enemies of Russia and resigned his post. So at that time there were still leaders who were completely faithful to the Tsar, and not only traitors like Alexeyev, Lukomsky, Ruzsky and Danilov, or like Generals Brusilov, Polivanov, Manikovsky, Bonch-Bruyevich, Klembovsky, Gatovsky, Boldyrev and others, who tried to please the Bolsheviks. At 10 a.m. on March 2 his Majesty was speaking to Ruzsky about the abdication: ‘If it is necessary that I should step aside for the good of Russia, I am ready, but I am afraid that the people will not understand this’… At this point they brought the text of Alexeyev’s telegram to the commanders. It was decided to wait for the replies. By 3 p.m. the replies had arrived from Headquarters. Ruzsky, accompanied by Danilov and Savich, came with the text of the telegram to his Majesty’s carriage. The Tsar, as Danilov recalled, ‘seemed calm, but was paler than usual: it was evident that he had passed most of the night without sleep. He was dressed in a dark blue Circassian coat, with a dagger in a silver sheath in his belt.’ Having sat down at the table, his Majesty began to listen to Ruzsky. He informed him of the events of the past hours and handed the Tsar the replies of the commanders. The Tsar read them. Ruzsky, ‘emphasizing each word’, began to expound his own opinion, which consisted in the fact that his Majesty had to act as the generals advised him. The Tsar asked the opinion of those present. Danilov and Savich said the same as Ruzsky. ‘A deathly silence ensued,’ wrote Danilov. ‘His Majesty was visibly perturbed. Several times he unconsciously looked at the firmly drawn window of the carriage.’ His Majesty’s widowed mother, Empress Maria Fyodorovna, later, from the words of her son, affirmed that Ruzsky had even dared to say: ‘Well, decide.’

     “What was his Majesty thinking about at that moment? According to the words of another contemporary of the events, the Tsar ‘clearly understood that General Ruzsky would not submit to his command if he ordered him to suppress the mutiny raging in the capital. He felt that a secret betrayal was encompassing him like a sticky spider’s web.’ Immediately the Empress learned that his Majesty was in Pskov, she expressed herself with maximum accuracy: ‘It’s a trap!’ Danilov continues: ‘Then, standing up and turning quickly towards us, [the Tsar] crossed himself and said: “I have decided… I have decided to renounce the Throne in favour of my son Alexis!... I thank all of you for your brilliant and faithful service. I hope that it will continue under my son…” It was as if a stone that had been pressing on us fell from our shoulders. It was a profoundly triumphant moment. The behaviour of the abdicated Emperor was worthy of every kind of praise.’

     “The moment was fateful. But for the traitor-generals themselves. Each of them would later receive his recompense from the Bolsheviks and God. But it was also a fateful moment for the whole of Russia!”[4]


     Why did the Tsar agree to abdicate? Yana Sedova goes back to the similar crisis of October, 1905. “His Majesty himself explained the reason for his agreement. He wrote that he had to choose between two paths: a dictatorship and a constitution. A dictatorship, in his words, would give a short ‘breathing space’, after which he would ‘again have to act by force within a few months; but this would cost rivers of blood and in the end would lead inexorably to the present situation, that is, the power’s authority would have been demonstrated, but the result would remain the same and reforms could not be achieved in the future’. So as to escape this closed circle, his Majesty preferred to give a constitution with which he was not in sympathy.

     “These words about a ‘breathing-space’ after which he would again have to act by force could perhaps have been applied now [in 1917]. In view of the solitude in which his Majesty found himself in 1917, the suppression of the revolution would have been the cure, not of the illness, but of its symptoms, a temporary anaesthesia – and, moreover, for a very short time.”[5]

     “By contrast with Peter I, Tsar Nicholas II of course was not inclined to walk over other people’s bodies. But he, too, was able, in case of necessity, to act firmly and send troops to put down the rebellious city. He could have acted in this way to defend the throne, order and the monarchical principle as a whole. But now he saw how much hatred there was against himself, and that the February revolution was as it were directed only personally against him. He did not want to shed the blood of his subjects to defend, not so much his throne, as himself on the throne…”[6]

     Archpriest Lev Lebedev agrees that the Tsar agreed to abdicate because he believed that the general dissatisfaction with his personal rule could be assuaged by his personal departure from the scene. But he never saw in this the renunciation of the Monarchy and its replacement by a republic; he envisaged only the transfer of power from himself to another member of the Dynasty – his son, under the regency of his brother. This, he thought, would placate the army and therefore ensure victory against Germany.


     Let us look more closely at this hypothesis… The Tsar wrote in his diary-entry for March 2: “My abdication is necessary. Ruzsky transmitted this conversation [with Rodzianko] to the Staff HQ, and Alexeyev to all the com­manders-in-chief of the fronts. The replies from all arrived at 2:05. The essence is that that for the sake of the salvation of Russia and keeping the army at the front quiet, I must resolve on this step. I agreed. From the Staff HQ they sent the draft of a manifesto. In the evening there arrived from Petrograd Guchkov and Shulgin. I discussed and transmitted to them the signed and edited manifesto. At one in the morning I left Pskov greatly affected by all that had come to pass. All around me I see treason, cow­ardice, and deceit.”

     Commenting on these words, Fr. Lev writes: “The Tsar was convinced that this treason was personally to him, and not to the Monarchy, not to Russia! The generals were sincerely convinced of the same: they supposed that in betraying the Tsar they were not betraying the Monarchy and the Fatherland, but were even serving them, acting for their true good!... But betrayal and treason to God’s Anointed is treason to everything that is headed by him. The Masonic consciousness of the generals, drunk on their supposed ‘real power’ over the army, could not rise even to the level of this simple spiritual truth! And meanwhile the traitors had already been betrayed, the deceivers deceived! Already on the following day, March 3, General Alexeyev, having received more detailed information on what was happening in Petrograd, exclaimed: ‘I shall never forgive myself that I believed in the sincerity of certain people, obeyed them and sent the telegram to the commanders-in-chief on the question of the abdication of his Majesty from the Throne!’… In a similar way General Ruzsky quickly ‘lost faith in the new government’ and, as was written about him, ‘suffered great moral torments’ concerning his conversation with the Tsar, and the days March 1 and 2, ‘until the end of his life’ (his end came in October, 1918, when the Bolsheviks finished off Ruzsky in the Northern Caucasus). But we should not be moved by these belated ‘sufferings’ and ‘recovery of sight’ of the generals (and also of some of the Great Princes). They did not have to possess information, nor be particularly clairvoyant or wise; they simply had to be faithful to their oath – and nothing more!..

     “… At that time, March 1-2, 1917, the question was placed before the Tsar, his consciousness and his conscience in the following way: the revolution in Petrograd is being carried out under monarchical banners: society, the people (Russia!) are standing for the preservation of tsarist power, for the planned carrying on of the war to victory, but this is being hindered only by one thing – general dissatisfaction personally with Nicholas II, general distrust of his personal leadership, so that if he, for the sake of the good and the victory of Russia, were to depart, he would save both the Homeland and the Dynasty!

     “Convinced, as were his generals, that everything was like that, his Majesty, who never suffered from love of power (he could be powerful, but not power-loving!), after 3 o’clock in the afternoon of March 2, 1917, immediately sent two telegrams – to Rodzyanko in Petrograd and to Alexeyev in Mogilev. In the first he said: ‘There is no sacrifice that I would not undertake in the name of the real good of our native Mother Russia. For that reason I am ready to renounce the Throne in favour of My Son, in order that he should remain with Me until his coming of age, under the regency of My brother, Michael Alexandrovich’. The telegram to Headquarters proclaimed: ‘In the name of the good of our ardently beloved Russia, her calm and salvation, I am ready to renounce the Throne in favour of My Son. I ask everyone to serve Him faithfully and unhypocritically.’ His Majesty said, as it were between the lines: ‘Not as you have served Me…’ Ruzsky, Danilov and Savich went away with the texts of the telegrams.

     “On learning about this, Major-General Vladimir Nikolayevich Voeikov, the chief of the Tsar’s bodyguard, ran into the Tsar’s carriage: ‘Can it be true… that You have signed the abdication?’ The Tsar gave him the telegrams lying on the table with the replies of the commanders-in-chief, and said: ‘What was left for me to do, when they have all betrayed Me? And first of all – Nikolasha (Great Prince Nicholas Nikolayevich)… Read!’”[7]

     As in 1905, so in 1917, probably the single most important factor influencing the Tsar’s decision was the attitude of his uncle and the former Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolayevich Romanov, “Nikolasha” as he was known in the family. It was indeed the case that there was very little the Tsar could do in view of the treason of the generals and Nikolasha.[8] He could probably continue to defy the will of the social and political élite, as he had done more than once in the past – but not the generals.[9]

     On the night of the abdication the Duma representatives Guchkov and Shulgin came to the Tsar with their own abdication text. But the Tsar in his last act as Sovereign was not to be dictated to; he had written his own manifesto, which he gave them. And Shulgin had to admit: “How pitiful seemed to me the sketch that we had brought him…”[10]

     S.S. Oldenburg writes: “One can speculate whether his Majesty could have not abdicated. With the position taken by General Ruzsky and General Alexeyev, the possibility of resistance was excluded: the commands of his Majesty were not delivered, the telegrams of those who were loyal to him were not communicated to him. Moreover, they could have announced the abdication without his will: Prince Mark of Baden announced the abdication of the German emperor (9.11.1918) when the Kaiser had by no means abdicated! His Majesty at least retained the possibility of addressing the people with his own last word… His Majesty did not believe that his opponents could cope with the situation. For that reason, to the last moment he tried to keep the steering wheel in his own hands. When that possibility had disappeared – it was clear that he was in captivity – his Majesty wanted at least to do all he could to make the task of his successors easier… Only he did not want to entrust his son to them: he knew that the youthful monarch could not abdicate, and to remove him they might use other, bloody methods. His Majesty gave his opponents everything he could: they still turned out to be powerless in the face of events. The steering wheel was torn out of the hands of the autocrat-‘chauffeur’ and the car fell into the abyss…”[11]

     E.E. Alferev echoes this assessment and adds: “The Empress, who had never trusted Ruzsky, on learning that the Tsar’s train had been help up at Pskov, immediately understood the danger. On March 2 she wrote to his Majesty: ‘But you are alone, you don’t have the army with you, you are caught like a mouse in a trap. What can you do?’”[12]

     Perhaps he could have counted on the support of some military units. But the result would undoubtedly have been a civil war, whose outcome was doubtful, but whose effect on the war with Germany could not be doubted: the Germans would have been given a decisive advantage at a critical moment when Russia was about to launch a spring offensive. This last factor was decisive for the Tsar: he would not contemplate undermining the war effort for any reason. For the first duty of an Orthodox Tsar after the defence of the Orthodox faith is the defence of the country against external enemies – and in the case of the war with Germany the two duties coincided.

      The Tsar had always steadfastly refused to consider any internal constitutional changes during the war for the very good reason that such changes were bound to undermine the war effort. For the same reason his enemies wanted to force him to make such changes while the war was still being waged. As Katkov penetratingly observes, the Russian liberals’ and radicals’ “fear of the military failure and humiliation of Russia was, if we are not mistaken, only the decent cover for another feeling – the profound inner anxiety that the war would end in victory before the political plans of the opposition could be fulfilled, and that the possibilities presented to it by the exceptional circumstances of wartime, would be missed”.[13]

     “The Lord allowed the satanic plan of Guchkov – borrowed by him, as we recall, from the Young Turks – to be carried out exactly. The Tsar, having left Headquarters, was, while on his way (isolated from the concrete, immediate levers and threads of the administration of the army and state), seized by plotters from the highest officers of the army and by deceit forced to abdicate.

     “The ‘monarchists’ Guchkov and Shulgin, who did not yet know of his decision, and were only thinking to incline him towards it, that is, to carry out the work which Ruzsky, Alexeyev and the others had already done, left Petrograd for Pskov without the Soviet of Deputies knowing (!). They arrived at about 10 p.m. on March 2. By this time, that is, in the evening, the Tsar had somewhat changed his original decision. The point was the extremely dangerous illness of his Son, the Tsarevich Alexis, who was still destined to rule, albeit under the regency of his uncle, Michael. The Tsar-Father, worrying about his, asked the doctors for the last time: was there the slightest hop of Alexis Nikolayevich being cured of haemophilia? And he received a negative reply: there was no hope. Then the Tsar took the decision to keep his sick son completely with himself and abdicate in favour of his brother Michael. However, the text of the abdication manifesto was still marked as March 2, 15.00 hours, that is, the moment when he decided to renounce his power. So when Guchkov and Shulgin brought the text of the manifesto that they had composed they found that it was not necessary. The Tsar gave them his. And they had to admit with shame how much more powerful, spiritual and majestic in its simplicity was the manifesto written by the Tsar than their talentless composition.[14] They begged the Tsar to appoint Prince Lvov as President of the Council of Ministers and General L.G. Kornilov as Commander of the Petrograd military district. The Tsar signed the necessary orders. These were the last appointments made by the Tsar.

     “Seeing themselves as the controllers of the destinies and rulers of Russia, Guchkov and Shulgin both arrived in a concealed manner, bewildered, unshaven, in noticeably dirty collars, and departed with all the papers they had been given in a conspiratorial manner, looking around them and concealing themselves from ‘the people’ whom they thought to rule… Thieves and robbers! Guchkov’s plan had been carried out, while as for Guchkov himself – what a boundlessly pitiful situation did this very clever Mason find himself in, he who had worked for so many years to dig a hole under Tsar Nicholas II!

     “Nicholas II’s manifesto declared: ‘During the days of the great struggle against the external foe which, in the space of almost three years, has been striving to enslave our Native Land, it has pleased the Lord God to send down upon Russia a new and difficult trial. The national disturbances that have begun within the country threaten to reflect disastrously upon the further conduct of the stubborn war. The fate of Russia, the honour of our heroic army, the well-being of the people, the entire future of our precious Fatherland demand that the war be carried out to a victorious conclusion, come what may. The cruel foe is exerting what remains of his strength, and nor far distant is the hour when our valiant army with our glorious allies will be able to break the foe completely. In these decisive days in the life of Russia, We have considered it a duty of conscience to make it easy for Our people to bring about a tight-knit union and cohesion of all our national strength, in order that victory might be the more quickly attained, and, in agreement with the State Duma We have concluded that it would be a good thing to abdicate the Throne of the Russian State and to remove Supreme Power from Ourselves. Not desiring to be separated from Our beloved Son, We transfer Our legacy to Our Brother Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, and bless Him to ascend the Throne of the Russian State. We command Our Brother to conduct State affairs fully and in inviolable unity with the representatives of those men who hold legislative office, upon those principles which they shall establish, swearing an inviolable oath to that effect. In the name of our ardently beloved Native Land We call upon all faithful sons of the Fatherland to fulfil their sacred duty before it, by submitting to the Tsar during the difficult moment of universal trials, and, aiding Him, together with the representatives of he people, to lead the Russian State out upon the path of victory, well-being and glory. May the Lord God help Russia. Pskov. 2 March, 15.00 hours. 1917. Nicholas.’ Countersigned by the Minister of the Court Count Fredericks.[15]


     “Then – it was already night on March 2 – the Tsar telegraphed the essence of the matter to his brother Michael and asked forgiveness that he ‘had not been able to warn’ him. But this telegram did not reach its addressee.


     “Then the train set off. Left on his own, in his personal compartment, the Tsar prayed for a long time by the light only of a lampada that burned in front of an icon. Then he sat down and wrote in his diary: ‘At one in the morning I left Pskov greatly affected by all that had come to pass. All around me I see treason, cow­ardice, and deceit.’

     “This is the condition that reigned at that time in ‘society’, and especially in democratic, Duma society, in the highest army circles, in a definite part of the workers and reservists of Petrograd...”[16]

     General Voeikov writes: “Immediately the train had moved from the station, I went into the Tsar’s compartment, which was lit by one lampada burning in front of an icon. After all the experiences of that heavy day, the Tsar, who was always distinguished by huge self-possession, could not control himself. He embraced me and sobbed... My heart broke into pieces at the sight of such undeserved sufferings that had fallen to the lot of the noblest and kindest of tsars. He had only just endured the tragedy of abdicating from the throne for himself and his son because of the treason and baseness of the people who had abdicated from him, although they had received only good from him. He was torn away from his beloved family. All the misfortunes sent down upon him he bore with the humility of an ascetic... The image of the Tsar with his tear-blurred eyes in the half-lit compartment will never be erased from my memory to the end of my life...”[17]

     It has been argued that this telegram-manifesto was not an abdication, but a final coded appeal to the army to support him. But since all agree on the crystal-clear sincerity and guilelessness of Nicholas’ character, there is no reason not to believe the plain meaning of the text. What is true is that the Tsar considered himself to be still Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.


     That is why his train now moved towards Mogilev, and why neither Ruzsky nor Alexeyev nor even Guchkov prevented him from returning there. Sister Florence Farmborough, an English Red Cross nurse serving at the Russian Front, writes: “Deprived of Throne and Power, his visit was sorrowful in the extreme. He spent only a few days there and was visited by his mother, the Dowager Empress Marie. There they parted; she, to return to her home in Kiyev; he, to return as a prisoner to his family in Tsarskoe Selo [the Village of the Tsar]. Those who saw him in Mogilev were amazed at the self-control and courage with which he carried out the final ceremonies. He wrote to his fighting men on the various Fronts and addressed the troops in person. He told them that he was leaving them because he felt that he was no longer necessary; thanked them for their never-failing loyalty; praised them for their unwavering patriotism and besought them to obey the Provisional Government, to continue the war and to lead Russia to Victory. Only his mournful, hollow eyes, and extreme pallor told of the effort he was making to preserve the calm demanded of him.

     “Even before he left Mogilev, vociferous celebrations were taking place in the town; large red flags blazed in the streets; all photographs of himself and family had disappeared; Imperial emblems were being pulled down from walls, cut off uniforms; and, while the ex-Tsar sat alone in his room, the officers who had visited him, cheered his brave words and bowed low – many in tears – before him as he bid them farewell, were at that moment queuing up in the open air, outside his window, to take the Oath of Allegiance to the Provisional Government.”[18]

     And for almost a whole week he continued to lead all the Armed Forces of Russia!... But, although there were many senior officers there who were ready to die for him, the Tsar made no move to make use of his powerful position to march against the revolution. For, according to Lebedev, he was sincerely convinced that “his departure from power could help everyone to come together for the decisive and already very imminent victory over the external enemy (the general offensive was due to take place in April). Let us recall his words to the effect that there was no sacrifice which he was not prepared to offer for the good of Russia. In those days the Tsar expressed himself still more definitely: ‘… If Russia needs an atoning sacrifice, let me be that sacrifice’. The Tsar was convinced (and they convinced him) that… the Provisional Government, society and the revolution were all (!) for the preservation of the Monarchy and for carrying through the war to a glorious victory…”[19]

     Lebedev is not convincing here. The Tsar’s first priority was undoubtedly a successful conclusion to the war. After all, on the night of his abdication, he wrote in his diary: “I decided to take this step for the sake of Russia, and to keep the armies in the field.” But it is hard to believe that he still, after all the treason he had seen around him, believed that “the Provisional Government, society and the revolution [!] are all for the preservation of the Monarchy”…

     It is more likely that he believed that without the support of the generals and the Duma he could not lead the country to victory, which was the prime objective upon which everything else depended.And so he abdicated, not because he had any illusions about the Provisional Government, but because, as a true patriot, he wanted Russia to win the war...

     One of the best comments on the Tsar in the February revolution came from Winston Churchill, a minister in the British government at the time: “Surely to no nation has Fate been more malignant than to Russia. Her ship went down in sight of port… Every sacrifice had been made; the toil was achieved… In March the Tsar was on the throne: the Russian Empire and the Russian army held up, the front was secured and victory was undoubted. The long retreats were ended, the munitions famine was broken; arms were pouring in; stronger, larger, better equipped armies guarded the immense front… Moreover, no difficult action was now required: to remain in presence: to lean with heavy weight upon the far stretched Teutonic line: to hold without exceptional activity the weakened hostile forces on her front: in a word to endure – that was all that stood between Russia and the fruits of general victory… According to the superficial fashion of our time, the tsarist order is customarily seen as blind, rotten, a tyranny capable of nothing. But an examination of the thirty months of war with Germany and Austria should correct these light-minded ideas.  We can measure the strength of the Russian Empire by the blows which it suffered, by the woes it experienced, by the inexhaustible forces that it developed, and by the restoration of forces of which it showed itself capable… In the government of states, when great events take place, the leader of the nation, whoever he may be, is condemned for failures and glorified for successes. The point is not who did the work or sketched the plan of battle: reproach or praise for the outcome is accorded to him who bears the authority of supreme responsibility. Why refuse this strict examination to Nicholas II? The brunt of supreme decisions centred upon him. At the summit where all problems are reduced to Yea and Nay, where events transcend the faculties of men and where all is inscrutable, he had to give the answers. His was the function of the compass needle. War or no war? Advance or retreat? Right or left? Democratise or hold firm? Quit or persevere? These were the battlefields of Nicholas II. Why should he reap no honour for them?...

     “The regime which he personified, over which he presided, to which his personal character gave the final spark, had at this moment won the war for Russia. Now they crush him. A dark hand intervenes, clothed from the beginning in madness. The Tsar departs from the scene. He and all those whom he loved are given over to suffering and death. His efforts are minimized; his actions are condemned; his memory is defiled…”[20]

     The autocrat, according to the Orthodox understanding, can rule only in partnership or “symphony” with the Church. Moreover, the leaders of neither Church nor State can rule if the people rejects them; for in Deuteronomy 17.14 the Lord had laid it down as one of the conditions of the creation of a God-pleasing monarchy that the people should want a God-pleasing king. As Lev Alexandrovich Tikhomirov wrote: "Without establishing a kingdom, Moses foresaw it and pointed it out in advance to Israel... It was precisely Moses who pointed out in advance the two conditions for the emergence of monarchical power: it was necessary, first, that the people itself should recognize its necessity, and secondly, that the people itself should not elect the king over itself, but should present this to the Lord. Moreover, Moses indicated a leadership for the king himself: 'when he shall sit upon the throne of his kingdom, he must… fulfil all the words of this law'." [21]

     In view of this, the Tsar, who very well understood the true meaning of the autocracy, could not continue to rule if the Church and people did not want it. Just as it takes two willing partners to make a marriage, so it takes a head and a body who are willing to work with each other to make a Christian state. The bridegroom in this case was willing and worthy, but the bride was not…

     In an important address entitled “Tsar and Patriarch”, P.S. Lopukhin approaches this question by noting that the Tsar’s role was one of service, service in the Church and for the Church. And its purpose was to bring people to the Church and keep them there, in conditions maximally conducive to their salvation. But if the people of the Church, in their great majority, cease to understand the Tsar’s role in that way, then he becomes literally of no service to them.

     “The understanding of, and love and desire for, the ‘tsar’s service’ began to wane in Russia. Sympathy began to be elicited, by contrast, by the bases of the rationalist West European state, which was separated from the Church, from the religious world-view. The idea of the democratic state liberated from all obligation in relation to God, the Church and the spiritual state of the people began to become attractive. The movement in this direction in the Russian people was long-standing and stubborn, and it had already a long time ago begun to elicit profound alarm, for this movement was not so much ‘political’ as spiritual and psychological: the so-called Russian ‘liberation’ and then ‘revolutionary movement’ was mainly, with rare and uncharacteristic exceptions, an a-religious and anti-religious movement.

     “It was precisely this that elicited profound alarm in the hearts of St. Seraphim, Fr. John of Kronstadt, Dostoyevsky and Metropolitan Anthony…

     “This movement developed inexorably, and finally there came the day when his Majesty understood that he was alone in his ‘service of the Tsar’.

     “The Orthodox Tsar must not be in spiritual isolation. For example, the ‘theocrat’, the ruler who believes that he is sent by God to rule a given people, that a God-established aim is the very fact of this monarch’s power over this people, such a monarch can drench the country in blood, subdue it, in order that everyone should tremble in fear, and ideologically he would be justified.

     “The Orthodox Tsar has authority in order that there should be a Christian state, so that there should be a Christian-minded environment. The Tsar bears his tsarist service for this end.

     “When the desire for a Christian state and environment is quenched in the people, the Orthodox monarchy loses both the presupposition and the aim of its existence, for nobody can be forced to become a Christian. The Tsar needs Christians, not trembling slaves.

     “In the life of a people and of a man there are periods of spiritual darkening, of ‘stony lack of feeling’, but this does not mean that the man has become completely stony: the days of temptation and darkness pass, and he is again resurrected. When a people is overcome by passions, it is the duty of the authorities by severe means to sober it up and wake it up. And this must be done with decisiveness. It is healing, just as a thunderstorm is healing.

     “But this can only be done when the blindness is not deep and when he who is punished and woken up understands the righteousness of the punishment. Thus one peasant reproached a landowner, asking why he had not begun to struggle against the pogroms with a machine-gun. “Well, and what would have happened them?’ ‘We would have come to our senses! But now we are drunk and we burn and beat each other.’

     “But when the spiritual illness has penetrated even into the subconscious, then the application of force will seem to be violence, and not just retribution, then the sick people will not longer be capable of being healed. Then it will be in the state in which the sinner was whom the Apostle Paul ‘delivered to Satan for the tormenting of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved’ (I Corinthians 5.5).

     “At the moment of his abdication his Majesty felt himself to be profoundly alone, and around him was ‘cowardice, baseness and treason’, and to the question how he could have abdicated from his tsarist service, it is necessary to reply: he did this because we abdicated from his tsarist service, from his sacred and sanctified authority…[22]

     As St. John Maximovich put it: “Calculating malice did its work: it separated Russia from her tsar, and at that terrible moment in Pskov he remained abandoned… The terrible abandonment of the Tsar… But it was not he who abandoned Russia: Russia abandoned him, who loved Russia more than his own life. Seeing this, and in hope that his self-humiliation would calm the stormy passions of the people, his Majesty renounced the throne…”


     These explanations of why the Tsar abdicated agree with each other and are essentially true. But we can go still further and deeper. Michael Nazarov argues that the Tsar, seeing that it was impossible to stem the tide of apostasy at that time, offered himself as a sacrifice for the enlightenment of future generations, in accordance with the revelation given to Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow: “His Majesty Nicholas II very profoundly felt the meaning of his service as tsar. His tragedy consisted in the fact that at the governmental level of the crisis fewer and fewer co-workers were appearing who would combine in themselves administrative abilities, spiritual discernment and devotion. ‘All around me are betrayal and cowardice and deception’, wrote his Majesty in his diary on the day of the abdication… Therefore, in the conditions of almost complete betrayal, his humble refusal to fight for power was dictated not only by a striving to avoid civil war, which would have weakened the country before the external enemy. This rejection of power was in some way similar to Christ’s refusal to fight for His life before His crucifixion – for the sake of the future salvation of men. Perhaps his Majesty Nicholas II, the most Orthodox of all the Romanovs, intuitively felt that there was already no other way for Russia to be saved – except the path of self-sacrifice for the enlightenment of descendants, hoping on the help and the will of God…”[23]

     From this point of view it was the will of God that the Tsar abdicate, even though it meant disaster for the Russian people, just as it was the will of God that Christ be crucified, even though it meant the destruction of the Jewish people – until their conversion in future generations. Hence the words of     Eldress Paraskeva (Pasha) of Sarov (+1915), who had foretold the Tsar’s destiny during the Sarov Days of 1903, saying: “Your Majesty, descend from the throne yourself”.[24] On the one hand, it was wrong, contrary to the Basic Laws, and disastrous for Russia that the Tsar should abdicate. But on the other hand, it was right and inevitable. As Blessed Duniushka of Ussuruisk, who was martyred in 1918, said: “The Tsar will leave the nation, which shouldn’t be, but this has been foretold to him from Above. This is his destiny. There is no way that he can evade it…”[25]

     And so, with the removal of the Orthodox Emperor, of “him that restraineth” the coming of the Antichrist (II Thessalonians 2.4), the world entered the period of the last times, of the Apocalypse…


March 2/15, 2017.

100th Anniversary of the Abdication of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II.


[1] “The plotters had earlier prepared a group to seize the train from among the reserve Guards units in the so-called Arakcheev barracks in Novgorod province. That is why the train had to be stopped nearer these barracks, and not in Pskov” (Sedova, “Ne Tsar… a Ego Poddanie Otvetsvenny za Febral’skij Perevorot 1917 Goda” (Not the Tsar, but his Subjects were Responsible for the Coup of 1917), Nasha Strana, N 2864, March 14, 2009,”, p. 4). (V.M.)

[2] Lebedev, Velikorossia (Great Russia), St. Petersburg, 1997, pp. 477-482.

[3] Guchkov claimed that the generals were not initiated into the plot, but acted independently. Sedova agrees with this assessment, as, it would seem, did Oldenburg. (V.M.)

[4] Lebedev, op. cit., pp. 481-486.

[5] Sedova, “Pochemu Gosudar’ ne mog ne otrech’sa?” (Why his Majesty could not avoid abdication), Nasha Strana, March 6, 2010, N 2887, p. 2.

[6] Sedova, “Ataka na Gosudaria Sprava” (An Attack on his Majesty from the Right), Nasha Strana, September 5, 2009.

[7] Lebedev, op. cit., pp. 486-488; Voeikov, So Tsarem i Bez Tsaria (With and Without the Tsar), Moscow, 1995, p. 212; Mark Steinberg and Vladimir Khrustalev, The Fall of the Romanovs, Yale University Press, 1995, pp. 89-90, citing State Archive of the Russian Federation, document f.601, op. 1, d. 2102, 1.1-2.

[8] Nikolasha was blessed by Metropolitan Platon, Exarch of Georgia to ask the Tsar to abdicate. See N.K. Talberg, “K sorokaletiu pagubnogo evlogianskogo raskola” (On the Fortieth Anniversary of the Destructive Eulogian Schism”), Pravoslavnij Put’ (The Orthodox Way), Jordanville, 1966, p. 36.

[9] Apart from General Khan-Hussein, General Theodore Keller, who was later martyred, was also faithful, as were Adjutant-General Nilov and General Voejkov.

[10] Oldenburg, Tsarstvovanie Imperatora Nikolaia II, Washington, 1981, vol. 2, p. 253.

[11] Oldenburg, op. cit., pp. 641-642.

[12] Alferov, Imperator Nikolaj II kak chelovek sil’noj voli (Emperor Nicholas II as a Man of Strong Will), Jordanville, N.Y.: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1983, 2004, p. 121.

[13] Katkov, op. cit., p. 236.

[14] Shulgin wrote: “How pitiful seemed to me the sketch that we had brought him… It is too late to guess whether his Majesty could have not abdicated. Taking into account the position that General Ruzsky and General Alexeyev held, the possibility of resistance was excluded: his Majesty’s orders were no longer passed on, the telegrams of those faithful to him were not communicated to him… In abdicating, his Majesty at least retained the possibility of appealing to the people with his own last word” (in S.S. Oldenburg, Tsarstvovanie Imperatora Nikolaia II (The Reign of Emperor Nicholas II), Belgrade, 1939, vol. 2, p. 253). (V.M.)

[15] Lebedev’s text has been slightly altered to include the whole text of the manifesto (V.M.). For more on the text of the manifesto, and proof that it was written by the Tsar himself, see “Manifest ob otrechenii i oktiabrskij perevorot: Kniaz’ Nikolai Davydovich Zhevakov” (1874-1939)”, http://www.zhevakhov.info/?p=465.

[16] Lebedev, op. cit., pp. 488-489.

[17] Voeikov, op. cit., p. 190.

[18] Farmborough, Nurse at the Russian Front. A Diary 1914-18, London: Book Club Associates, 1974, pp. 271-272.

[19] Lebedev, op. cit., p. 491.

[20] Churchill, The World Crisis. 1916-18, vol. I, London, 1927, pp. 223-225. Churchill was a Mason, Master of “Rosemary” lodge no. 2851, since 1902. However, this did not prevent him from being an admirer of the Tsar, and a fierce anti-communist.

[21] Tikhomirov, Monarkhicheskaia Gosudarstvennost (Monarchical Statehood), St. Petersburg, 1992, pp. 127-129.

[22] Lopukhin, “Tsar’ i Patriarkh” (Tsar and Patriarch), Pravoslavnij Put’ (The Orthodox Way), Jordanville, 1951, pp. 103-104.

[23] Nazarov, Kto Naslednik Rossijskogo Prestola? (Who is the Heir of the Russian Throne?), Moscow, 1996, pp. 72-73. Italics mine (V.M.).

[24]N. Gubanov (ed.), Nikolai II-ij i Novie Mucheniki, St. Petersburg, 2000, p. 70.

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