The Balkans and the Russian Liberal Opposition (1908–1914)

The Balkans and the Russian Liberal Opposition (1908–1914)

Fyodor A. Gayda
Full text:
The article is devoted to the views and opinions of the Russian liberal opposition on the Balkan events of 1908–14, which developed in the direction of an increasingly acute crisis, starting from the Young Turk Revolution. The materials of political parties and sources of personal origin belonging to party leaders are analyzed. The author closely links the trends in the perception of foreign policy realities and the domestic political interests of the parties, which is a new approach if compared to previous historiographical tradition. The author shows that the Russian liberal opposition (the Kadets, and later the Octobrists who joined the opposition) made full use of the opportunities that appeared as a result of the revolution of 1905–07: the parliamentary rostrum (the Duma), the press, and party forums. The article notes that the foreign policy position of the leading liberal parties in Russia was determined by the current political situation inside those parties and by party interests. Due to its experience of a national revolution, the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 attracted both the Octobrists and the Kadets. The author concludes that the First Balkan War of 1912–13 sharply increased interest in events in the region, but that interest had already been prepared by both foreign and domestic political factors. The war intensified the internal confrontation within the Constitutional Democratic Party (the Kadets), which led to the formation of the expansionist wing that opposed more cautious and much better-informed P. Milyukov. The article shows that the evolution of the Octobrists was associated with their gradual move to the opposition. In 1912, A. Guchkov began to perceive a possible war with the participation of Russia as a chance for political changes within the country and the revival of the Octobrist influence on the government. The author concludes that by 1914 many representatives of the liberal community (both the Octobrists and the Kadets) had adopted a tougher and more uncompromising stance in the Balkan issue and in the matters of foreign policy in general than the stance of the Russian government. According to the liberals, war as such would only strengthen the position of their party, and the authorities would be made responsible for its possible unsuccessful outcome.
Fyodor A. Gayda
Doctor of Historical Sciences, Associate Professor,
Lomonosov Moscow State University
Moscow, Russia;
Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University
Kaliningrad, Russia  
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For citation:
Gayda, F.A. “The Balkans and the Russian Liberal Opposition (1908–1914).” Historia Provinciae – the Journal of Regional History, vol. 7, no. 3 (2023): 991–1011,

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