The beginning of protests against the Russian government started in St. Petersburg at the Winter Palace. The Union of Liberation had coordinated with the Assembly of Russian Workingmen and the resulting assembly was meant to be a peaceful mass demonstration led by priest Georgy Gapon. Workers carried religious icons, pictures of Nicholas II and petitions that cited their grievances and desired reforms on march to the Winter Palace. Since Nicholas II was not in the city, Grand Duke Vladimir (Nicholas’s uncle) had control. When the marchers were ordered to stop, they did not and Vladimir ordered his police to open fire on the marchers, killing at least 100 and several hundred wounded. This massacre was known as Bloody Sunday and was the beginning of the Revolution of 1905.
Shortly after Bloody Sunday, workers’ councils called soviets were formed in order to organize strikes and riots and then later transformed into a revolutionary government when social democrats started to join. The first workers’ council was created in Ivanovo-Vosnesensk along with the St. Petersburg soviet on October 13. The soviets were created for several different reasons: in protest of Tsar Nicholas II establishing an elected assembly to advise the government then later protests against proposed election procedures for the advisory assembly. These strikes pushed Nicholas II, and on the advice of Sergey Yulyevich Witte, into creating the October Manifesto which had promised a constitution and established the Duma.
The October Manifesto was seen as a victory to some moderates and many of the workers had returned to their jobs which broke the coalition and weakened the St. Petersburg soviet. Since the coalition was broken, the government arrested G.S. Khrustalev-Nosar who was the soviet’s chairman and part of the Mensheviks along with Leon Trotsky. The revolution failed to replace the former government with a democratic republic, nor did it even establish a constituent assembly; however, the creation of the Duma and the Fundamental Laws of 1906 were important in the development of legal political activity and parties.