Important dates


8 March

In St. Petersburg, food shortages and widespread discontent with the war lead to protests and strikes. The unrest triggers the March revolution.

10 March

Revolution in Russia. Some army regiments side with the protesters. Nicholas II orders the commander of the military district of St. Petersburg, General Habalov, to quell the protests by force. The Emperor orders the State Duma to disperse immediately.

12 March

General Habalov reports that most military units have refused to fire at people.

A crowd overpowers the Shpalernaya Prison in St. Petersburg, releases the prisoners and sets the building on fire. More than 70 Finnish political prisoners are freed among others.

The State Duma, defying the Emperor’s orders, searches for ways to calm the situation. During the night, the Duma sets up a provisional executive committee comprised of Duma members and led by Mikhail Rodzianko. Workers’ and military councils are also established in St. Petersburg.

Admiral A. I. Nepenin, commander of the Baltic fleet, declares a state of emergency in the Navy and in the fortress of Sveaborg.

15 March

In Russia, Nicholas II abdicates and transfers the crown to his brother, Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, who, however, refuses to accept the crown.

16 March

In Russia, a provisional government led by Georgy Lvov, Chairman of the Cadet Party, takes power.

The “Sabre Senate” in Finland is dissolved. In accordance with instructions received, Vice Admiral Nepenin imprisons Governor-General F. A. Seyn and Vice Chairman of the Senate Finance Department, Mikhail Borovitinov.

A delegation comprising representatives of the Social Democratic Party, Young Finnish Party and Swedish People’s Party arrives in St. Petersburg to become acquainted with the situation. They seek a repeal of the orders issued during the Russification period.

17 March

Information about the revolution and the provisional government’s rise to power reaches Finland. In Helsinki, naval soldiers of the Baltic Sea Fleet switch over to the side of the revolution and rebel against their officers. Dozens of officers are killed, among them the Fleet Commander A. I. Nepenin.

20 March

The Russian provisional government issues the March Manifesto, which revokes the 1899 February Manifesto and all unconstitutional laws and regulations passed since 1899. The provisional government proclaims to be the holder of full state power, but asserts that it will not intervene in the domestic affairs of Finland.

In the towns of Finland, people’s militias are set up to replace the police forces whose personnel appointed during the Russification period must immediately resign. The personnel of the militias consists mainly of workers.

21 March

The Finnish Senate orders the pictures of Emperor Nicholas II to be removed from office walls and revokes the provisions on flying the flag on Imperial Holidays.

24 March

The Jaeger Battalion No. 27 arrives in Libau, where it stays in training and on shore guard duty until 13 February 1918.

26 March

The Russian provisional government appoints the Senate, led by Social Democrat Oskari Tokoi. The Senate comprises six representatives of non-socialist parties and six representatives of socialist parties. The Tokoi Senate states in its programme that it will seek economic and social reforms and aims to safeguard the autonomy of Finland. The Senate becomes the first socialist-led government in the world.

29 March

P. E. Svinhufvud, who has returned from his exile in Siberia, is celebrated in Helsinki as a national hero.

Alexander Kerensky, Minister of Justice in the Russian provisional government, arrives in Helsinki. He tries to persuade the Finns to participate in Russia’s war efforts, but Finland rejects his proposal.

30 March

The Russian provisional government makes a declaration in which it recognises the Polish independence. The declaration has symbolic meaning only, since the Polish territory is occupied by Germany. However, it raises great enthusiasm both in Poland and among Poles all over Europe.