Now the Bolsheviks set about the business of changing Russia. Unexpectedly one of the first problems they had to tend to was the looting of vintage wines from the Palace cellars which was one of the largest collections ever known. Thousands of bottles were drunk or given away to the people of the city. Streets were filled with drunken mobs and sailors used well-dressed people for target practice. In Petrograd, the October Revolution was ushered in with one of the biggest hangovers in history.
Behind the scenes, Lenin tightened the reigns of power, but the people pinned their hopes on the future constituent assembly, to be Russia's first fully elected democratic parliament. They wanted to establish a firm democratic framework that would establish what they had gained. That's what got people very excited.
The Constituent Assembly offered the promise of a fair, egalitarian future for Russia. It was to be the first fully, fairly democratically elected government. There was a strong effort made in the countryside to educate the population, to teach them what was meant by democratic elections to ensure that proper democratic procedure was being carried out in the countryside. This was remarkably successful given these incredibly difficult conditions in 1917.
The election are held but the elections leave the Bolsheviks with a quarter of the vote. This left them with little choice but to take drastic action.
Here were the invited guests, consisting of Bolsheviks and Bolshevik sympathizers. When the other parties were speaking, they jeered, whistled, shouted and at times aimed rifles at the delegates. One person even fired a shot and nearly killed someone. Lenin had no time for democracy, showing his contempt for the assembly by laying down and dozing. Lenin said a democratic parliament was a step backwards and that a step forward was a republic of Soviets, the dictatorship of the Proletariat. It was 4:30 in the morning when the Security Chief approached the assembly and announced, "The guard is tired. Please leave the hall." Lenin had closed the assembly by forcing out the delegates and it was the sailors from Kronstadt who had aided him.
Lenin had effectively taken control, by force and killed any hope of universal democracy.
Lenin had never seen any reason to share power with any other political party, he believed his way was the only and correct way, and others would lead the revolution astray, so it had to be under his leadership. Lenin set up a commission to deal with those he saw as counter-revolutionary, known simply as the Checka and forerunner of the KGB, having the power to arrest, try and execute anyone they saw as dangerous to the regime. Opposition groups were dealt with ruthlessly. It was intended to smite counter-revolutionaries, but the Checka took it upon themselves to root out all forms of criticism. In Moscow, the popular clown BinBon who satirized the Communists on stage attracted the attention
The sailors of Kronstadt now had grave doubts about the regime they had aided to empower. They registered a protest against Lenin, the excesses of the Checka and believed by doing so they were exercising their democratic duty, but unknowingly were plotting a collision course with Lenin. It was to be the beginning, of their end.
Russian Revolution in Color (DVD)
The Russian Revolution and Civil War, this bloodsoaked time from the battlefields, testimonies, and colorized archives help unfold the dramatic story of the Communist rise and seizure of power in 1917.