Emperor Alexander II urgently wants to create a nation-wide elective body to create a nation based on the rule of law and to ease tensions among the population, but is hesitant in accepting a certain project.
The Akhal-Tekke Expedition, led by General-Lieutenant Mikhail Skobelev, is launched.
16 People's Will and 11 former Land and Will members are tried. Five People's Will members are sentenced to death, the rest sentenced to hard labour or Siberian exile. Upon Mikhail Loris-Melikov's orders, most sentences are softened and only two executed.
The Battle of Geok-Tepe ends in a Russian victory against the Tekkes, and their territories are incorporated into the Empire. Skobelev is promoted to General-from-the-Infantry and awarded the Order of Saint George II class for his services.
The Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs is incorporated into the Ministry of Internal Affairs as the Department of Posts and Telegraphs.
Alexander II accepts the proposal of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mikhail Loris-Melikov. PoD: The second bomb does not detonate, hence assassination fails. Throughout the year, numerous People's Will members are tried, quite a few of whom were sentenced to execution by hanging. However, upon intervention from the Emperor and Loris-Melikov, only three are executed - Andrey Zhelyabov, Ignatiy Grinevitskiy and Nikolay Rysakov, the rest sentenced to varying terms of hard labour, exile to Siberia or prison sentences.
All of the proposed reforms are finally fully implemented, including the cancellation of redemption payments peasants had to pay to the landowners after they were emancipated, the opening of a large number of new village and church schools, the abolition of the poll tax, and the main reform, the introduction of elected Zemstvo and City representatives into the State Council to consult the Emperor with the introduction of new laws. Within the State Council, two Commissions were created: the Administrative and the Financial. They consisted of the aforementioned Zemstvo and City representatives, and they would assist the Emperor in drafting new laws. Then they would discuss the drafted laws in a combined meeting, chaired by the Minister of Internal Affairs, and decide which laws were to be put before the State Council.
Within the State Council and the Committee of Ministers, "parties" emerge: the "Progressists", led by Chairman of the Committee of Ministers Pyotr Valuev, who were radical liberals; the "Reformists", led by Minister of Internal Affairs Mikhail Loris-Melikov, who were moderate liberals; the "Absolutists", led by Ober-Procurator of the Synod Konstantin Pobedonostsev, who were reactionaries.
The proclamation of Serbia a Kingdom is backed by the Russian government.
The Reformists and Progressists form a coalition and begin working together in all aspects of central and local governments, including the Committee of Ministers, the State Council, the Zemstvo Assemblies and City Dumas. All of the Committee of Ministers and the majority of the Council of Ministers and State Council were of the Progressist/Reformist coalition. This meant the liberals dominated Russian politics, and they could advise the Emperor and influence him to pass more liberal legislation, e.g., introducing more elected representatives to the State Council.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs - Alexander Gorchakov - dies, and Nikolay Girs is appointed as the new minister.
All political prisoners and exiles, including those formerly part of the People's Will, are pardoned. This causes many left-wing organisations to form, but none are elevated to national politics.
Alexander, knowing the slow economic growth in Russia, due to the fact that throughout his reign, he focused on socio-political, but not economic reforms, decided to begin industrialisation at a faster rate, when he effectively began a policy of a mixed economy: the state owns some industries and subsidises private industries. The government also embraces new agricultural methods and begins teaching them to farmers. This really kicks off well and Russia, slowly but surely, begins catching up with the industrial powers of Europe.
A treaty establishing diplomatic relations between Russia and Korea is signed.
Education spending is expanded and new schools are opened to the public. Zemstvo and City Duma elections occur, and a few members of the State Council are changed. The Progressists and Reformists grow, at the expense of the Absolutists.
During the Bulgarian crisis, unlike in OTL, the Russian government supported the unification of Bulgaria, and persuaded Serbia not to fall prey to Austria's trick offer to attack Bulgaria and in return, receive new lands in the Balkans. War was averted. However, Russo-Ottoman relations deteriorated, and the Russo-Austrian relationship cools.
Over the three years since the implementation of Loris-Melikov's reforms, the number of members of the State Council grew from 50 (before the reforms) to 75 (50 appointed and 25 elected members) to 80 (50 appointed and 30 elected) and finally to 100 (50 appointed and 50 elected). Alexander grants the State Council the full rights of a legislature, allowing the Commissions to draw up legislation and send it to the Chancellery of the State Council. If the law was approved by the Chancellery, it would be sent to the State Council for approval. If the law was rejected by the Chancellery it would be revised by the Chancellery and sent back down to the Commissions for their opinion on the revision. If the Commissions agree with the revision, it is immediately sent to the State Council for approval. If the Commissions disagree with revision, they may revise the piece of legislation and send it back up to the Chancellery - and so the cycle continues until a consensus can be reached. The State Council votes on legislation they receive from the Chancellery. If the majority of the State Council agree with the proposal, the bill is sent to the Emperor for approval. If the majority disagree with the proposal, it is sent back down to the Chancellery for revision. If the Emperor approves of the bill, it becomes law. If the Emperor vetoes the bill, the bill becomes null and void. The Emperor also has the power to introduce Decrees, or "Указы" (Ukazy) which must be approved by the State Council directly. However, during a State of Emergency - which is declared by the Emperor and approved by the State Council directly - the Emperor may issue Decrees without approval from the State Council.
Parties are officially legalised and formal parties begin forming, first the Progressists form the "Progressive Democratic Party", followed by the Reformists, who create the "Party of Reform" and lastly the Absolutists form the "Union of Russian People".
Alexander II orders Nikolay Girs - Minister of Foreign Affairs - to ensure the League of Three Emperors remains in force. Girs visits Germany and secures an alliance with German Emperor Wilhelm I and Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. He does the same with Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz-Joseph and Minister-President Eduard von Taaffe.
Alexander issues a Decree which is approved in the State Council doubling its membership, taking it to 200 members (100 appointed and 100 elected).
Due to the growth of industrial and agricultural output, Alexander begins his second military reform, alongside Dmitriy Milyutin, War Minister, involving the introduction of Sergey Mosin's modification of the Berdan rifle with an eight-bullet magazine, the Maxim gun and new artillery weapons, as well as new military doctrines and training techniques, both for soldiers and officers. This reform also applied to the fleet, meaning the old sailing ships were entirely eradicated and ironclads and steam frigates replacing them.
Zemstvo and City Duma elections are held, resulting in a reshuffling of the State Council: the Progressive Democrats get 36 seats, the Reformists get 38 and the Union of Russian People, or the Unionists, as they became to be known, get 26. The appointed members were: 34 Progressive Democrats, 40 Reformists and 26 Unionists. Loris-Melikov, the Minister of Internal Affairs, dies and is replaced by Minister of Justice, Dmitriy Nabokov, while Konstantin Palen returns to his former position as Minister of Justice. Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich, Alexander II's brother and Chairman of the State Council, is chosen as the new leader of the Party of Reform.
Due to rapidly growing industry (and therefore working classes), and popular demand for social reform, Alexander proposes decrees on a ten-hour work day, a minimum income of 20 rubles per week, pensions for retired workers over 55 and three weeks of paid leave, which pass almost unanimously through the State Council. This Decree also legalised "labour organisations". While not being actual trade unions, these organisations represented workers in each workplace. These had no real bargaining power, because they had to be permitted by the owner of the workplace, however, they still played an important role in the early labour movement in Russia, especially on state-owned workplaces, since the government always allowed them.
Minister of Finance - Alexander Abaza, Minister of Ways of Communication - Konstantin Posiet and State Controller - Dmitriy Solskiy, with support from the Tsar, begin what would be called nowadays as the nationalisation of the railways, in order to make the transport system in Russia more efficient. With sanctioning of the Emperor, Abaza, with support of Minister of State Property, Andrey Liven, as well as Dmitriy Solskiy, begin further stimulating Russian industry to grow, and Russian industry suddenly boosts its growth from 2% per annum, to 6% per annum. In addition, the Trans-Siberian Railway begins construction, after a Decree ordering it passes through the State Council.
State Controller, Dmitriy Solskiy, suffers a stroke. During his recovery the role of the State Controller is fulfilled by his deputy, Tertiy Filippov.
Pyotr Valuev, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, dies, and is replaced by Dmitriy Solskiy, the State Controller, who is replaced by Nikolay Bunge. The new leader of the Progressive Democratic Party becomes Dmitriy Nabokov.
Upon requesting the League of Three Emperors to be renewed, the Austro-Hungarian Empire refuses. Shortly, a secret Reinsurance Treaty, between Russia and Germany, is signed. This treaty meant that the two powers would remain allies, and in the event of a defensive war, the powers would intervene on behalf of each others. In the event of wars of aggression, friendly neutrality would be maintained.
An educational reform is passed through the State Council, with support from the Minister of Public Enlightenment, Andrey Saburov, greatly increasing the amount of primary people's schools in the villages. This reform also increased the availability of medium-tier education, by opening city schools in all cities of the Russian Empire.
A famine begins in Russia, and the government reacts accordingly, helping farmers in their troubles.
Aleksey Peshurov, Fleet Minister, dies and is replaced by Nikolay Chikhachev.
Alexander II's brother and Chairman of the State Council, Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich dies, and the Emperor grants the Council the right to elect their own chairman and they elect Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich, the Tsar's other brother. The new leader of the Party of Reform becomes Nikolay Bunge.
The famine of 1891-1892 was dealt with much more effectively than in OTL, and the popularity of Marxism never shot up as much as it did. However, a new party, the "Russian Socialist Party", led by Nikolay Chernyshevkiy, was formed. The following election for the Zemstvo Assemblies and City Dumas, the Socialists got three seats, the Progressive Democrats got 36 seats, the Reformists got 40 seats, and the Unionists got 21 seats in the State Council. The appointed members remained the same.
After the Bulgarian crisis, relations between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, which were already very strained, further worsened, and in 1893, the Ottoman Empire almost provoked Russia to start another Russo-Turkish war, however, war was averted, due to intervention from Germany who acted as a mediator until the crisis was resolved.
A great reformation of the Russian administrative system occurs. In order to standardise and simplify the administrative affairs of Russia, all Oblasts are reorganised on the basis of the existing Governorates, and all Governorates placed within a Governorate-General (sometimes called Viceroyalties). All Russian administrative regions are now arranged in this way: Uezds -> Governorates -> Governorates-General (Viceroyalties). New Governorates are added while others are removed.
Later, the Military Districts of the Russian Empire are reformed, with each Military District being equivalent to a Governorate-General.
In 1894, the aging Alexander takes the final step, and issues a Decree, approved by the State Council, creating a lower house in the nation's parliament, named the State Duma, elected through closed party-list semi-proportional majority bonus electoral system, where the winning party gets an extra 1/5 of seats (in order to achieve stability in a developing democracy). The Zemstvos and City Dumas were now elected through closed party-list proportional representation and the splitting of voters into electoral curiae by social class was now banned and all elections were made equal. The City Dumas and Zemstvos would continue to elect half of the State Council's members, and the Emperor appoint the second half. The Duma would contain 350 seats and the Council - 200. All laws, be they drafted by a Duma deputy, a Council member or the Emperor, would first be put to debate and voted on in the Duma. If the bill would pass through the Duma, the law would move up to the Council, where a similar procedure would occur. If the law is rejected, it is revised and voted on again. Once the Council receives the legislation and votes on it, and it passes, the bill goes to the Emperor for approval. If, however, it is rejected, it is revised and sent back to the Duma, which will vote on the revision, and a procedure similar to the usual voting would occur. Once the bill reaches the Emperor, he will decide whether the bill becomes law, it is vetoed and declared null and void, or revised and sent back to the Duma for approval (as if it is a Decree). Meanwhile, the ambiguous position of the Governing Senate is settled, becoming the highest court in the Russian Empire, effectively a combination of a constitutional court and a court of appeals. The basic operations of the Russian state were put in the nations first official constitution, called the "Fundamentals of the State System of the Russian Empire". In addition to the new system of government, the Tsar lifted all limits on all ethnic minorities, granting equal rights to all citizens of the Russian Empire.
Soon after the creation of the constitution, Tsarevich Alexander Alexandrovich died, under mysterious circumstances. Alexander II did not outlive his son for long and died a week after his eldest son's burial. Alexander was sincerely missed by the average Russian man, as the Tsar had brought him freedom, education, a say in government and better living conditions. Vladimir Aleksandrovich is crowned Emperor Vladimir III. In memory of his father, Vladimir opens the "Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander II".
Nikolay Girs dies and is replaced by Aleksey Lobanov-Rostovskiy as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Soon after, Alexander Abaza, Minister of Finance, dies and Nikolay Bunge is appointed in his place. Sergey Witte is appointed as State Controller, however, this does not last long and Nikolay Bunge dies and is replaced by Sergey Witte, and his previous post is given to Pavel Korf, the first elective representative in the government, who was a Reformist member of the State Council from the Saint Petersburg Governorate. The new leader of the Reformists becomes Sergey Witte.
The Russo-Chinese Bank is founded upon Witte's advice. It was formed to provide loans to the Qing government to pay the indemnities it was forced to pay to Japan after the Sino-Japanese War and represent Russian interest in the Qing Empire. A census project is proposed in the State Council, and is passed through it and approved by Vladimir III. All branches of government work together to organise the census.
The Triple Intervention of Russia, France and Germany forces Japan to adjust the results of the Sino-Japanese War, cancelling the occupation of the Liaodong peninsula in return for extra indemnities.
The elections into the I State Duma and V (elected) State Council occur. In the Duma, the Progressive Democrats gain 177 seats (107 raw plus one-fifth of seats), the Reformists gain 103 seats, the Unionists gain 36 seats and the Socialists gain 34 seats. In the Council, the Reformists gain 97 seats, the Progressive Democrats gain 83 seats, the Unionists gain 15 seats and the Socialists gain five seats. Boris Chicherin, a Progressive Democrat, is elected President (chairman) of the State Duma, while Mikhail Nikolaevich, Chairman of the State Council loses his position to Dmitriy Shipov, a Moscow Governorate Zemstvo representative from the Party of Reform.
Unlike in OTL, Russia also competes in the first Olympic Games, and came fourth, behind Germany and in front of France
Aleksey Lobanov-Rostovskiy signs a treaty with Li Hongzhang, Qing viceroy of Guangdong, which introduced reduced tariff-trade between the countries, and started a joint railway project with the Russo-Chinese Bank (in reality, the Russian government) and the Qing government through Manchuria in order to shorten the route to Vladivostok. A secret clause made an alliance treaty between China and Russia in order to stop the expansionism of the Japanese government. This clause also gave Russia military access to the Manchuria, Mongolia and Sinkiang and the Chinese were granted access to the Amur, Maritime, Transbaikal, Irkutsk, Tomsk, Semipalatinsk, Semirechensk, Ferghan and the southern half of the Yenisey Governorates. In addition, the Liaodong peninsula was leased to Russia. Nevertheless, it was much more equal than the Li-Lobanov treaty of OTL.
Lobanov-Rostovskiy also signs a treaty with former Japanese PM, Yamagata Aritomo, only a few days after signing the Li-Lobanov Treaty. This, unlike in OTL, split the spheres of influence in Korea between Russia and Japan on the 38th parallel. Similarly to OTL, however, this created a co-protectorate over Korea and supported the Korean government in westernisation.
Aleksey Lobanov-Rostovskiy dies and is replaced by Nikolay Shishkin as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The census is finished and reports a population of 162 458 023 people. Later on in the year, the parliament passes a major legislative act, introducing compulsory primary education (primary education was already universal and free) for all children. The Tsar approves of the bill and changes the budget in order to supply the Ministry of Public Enlightenment with the necessary funds. The literacy rate, which was already in the early-70%s, starts rising at a greater rate.
Nikolay Shishkin signs a treaty with Japanese Foreign Minister, Nishi Tokujirō, which reaffirmed the Lobanov-Yamagata Treaty of the ATL, and also made it impossible to station additional troops in Korea without the other's permission, as well as the Japanese implicit recognition of the lease of the Liaodong peninsula to Russia.
A coup d'état occurs in China, where the reform-minded Guangxu Emperor is deposed by the Empress Dowager Cixi and placed under house arrest. Russia, as an ally of the Qing Empire and with personal interest in the reformation and westernisation of China, orders the I, II and III Siberian Corps, formed into the so-called Chinese Army, under the leadership of General-Lieutenant Nikolay Linevich, begin marching south, towards the Chinese capital of Peking. After besieging the city, the Russian forces demanded the immediate release of the Emperor and arrest of Cixi. Many reformist viceroys of the Qing Empire, including Li Hongzhang and Liu Kunyi, supported the intervention and attempted to block passage of troops loyal to Cixi through their vice royalties.
The Chinese intervention is applauded by liberal members of government, due to the fact that they were supportive of attempts to reform the Qing Empire, and the intervention was an attempt to restore the reformist Guangxu Emperor. However, Konstantin Pobedonoststev, who was disgusted with the reforms that had, in his opinion, ruined Russia, was favourably predisposed to the coup of Cixi.
During the Russian intervention in China, however, the Yihequan Movement launched a rebellion against foreign influence and Christians. Cixi immediately allied herself with the rebels and arrested all of the residents of the Legation Quarter of the besieged Peking. To counter this, the 1st Siberian Infantry Division and the Transbaikal Cossacks were sent to put this rebellion down. Upon hearing that Cixi was willing to cooperate, the Yihequans adopted the Manchu banners and began fighting against the reformist viceroys. However, Cixi soon understood her mistake, when even some conservative viceroys refused to cooperate with her after hearing that she had made an alliance with the rebels. Many foreign powers wished to intervene, due to the fact that their citizens were held captive by the Cixi government, but Russia calmed them by relating to the fact that Peking was under siege.
The Russian forces sent to put down the Yihequan Rebellion easily defeat all forces that the rebels can muster in defense, due to being armed with modern weaponry, and rebels using at most outdated firearms, if not pikes and halberds. However the siege of Peking dragged on for another few months, until finally, Cixi and her government surrenders and the true Emperor restored to power. After the rebellion and Cixi loyal forces had been fully quelled, the Guangxu Emperor, with Russian support begins reforming China in every way. Despite many other rebellions throughout his rule, these were put down with the Qing's new reformed army and Russian military presence.
After the campaign, Nikolay Linevich was awarded with the Order of Saint George II class and promoted to General-from-the-Infantry, as well as appointed Governor-General of Irkutsk.
Minister of Ways of Communication, Konstantin Posiet dies and is replaced by Mikhail Khilkov.
Nikolay Chernyshevskiy, leader of the Russian Socialist Party, dies (ten years later than in OTL), and the RSP splits into two parties, the moderate "Labour Party of Russia", shortened to Trudoviks, due to the Russian word for "labour" being "Труд" (Trud), and the "Radical Socialist Party", keeping the acronym of the old party. The RSP is led by Georgiy Plekhanov and the Trudoviks by Aleksey Peshekhonov. The party itself split quite equally but popular support went to the more moderate Trudoviks.
Upon Witte's advice, the first state-owned information company is formed in Russia, as the All-Russian Telegraph Agency. The newspapers "St. Petersburg News", "Moscow News", "Warsaw Governorate News", "Kiev Governorate News" - among other major newspapers - are put under the jurisdiction of the new telegraph agency.
Elections to the II State Duma and VI State Council occur. In the Duma, the Progressive Democrats gain 188 seats (118 raw plus one-fifth seats), the Reformists gain 98 seats, the Trudoviks gain 25 seats, the Unionists gain 24 seats and the RSP gain 15 seats. In the Council, the Progressive Democrats gain 90 seats, the Reformists gain 89 seats, the Unionists gain ten seats, the Trudoviks gain seven seats and the RSP gains four seats. For the first time, the Progressive Democrats overtake the Reformists in the State Council. Boris Chicherin remains in his post as president of the Duma, while the Chairman of the State Council, Dmitriy Shipov loses his position to Fyodor Golovin, a Moscow Governorate representative from the Progressive Democratic Party.
General-Lieutenant Fyodor Geiden, Chief of the High Staff of the Russian Empire, dies and General-from-the-Infantry Mikhail Skobelev is appointed in his place. A reform of the High Staff is introduced, and Skobelev becomes the first Chief of the General Staff.
Russia competes in the 1900 Olympic Games, coming 5th (unlike in OTL), behind the Mixed Teams and in front of Switzerland.
The Trans-Siberian Railway, which took nine years of construction (much faster than in OTL due to better industry and more organised bureaucracy), is complete and opens.
The Agrarian Socialist faction of the Radical Socialist Party, led by Victor Chernov, leaves the party and forms its own "People's Socialist Party", nicknamed Narodniks, after the 19th century Narodnik movement in Russia, which derived from the Russian "Народ" (Narod), which means "people". Soon after, the RSP collapsed and split up into the Marxist "Russian Socialist Labour Party", led by Plekhanov, and the Reformist "All-Russian Social Democratic Party", led by Pavel Axelrod. The majority of the party joined Plekhanov's newfound party, but rejected violent revolution, adopting Centrist Marxism as the guiding ideology of the party.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Itō Hirobumi arrives in St. Petersburg and offers a deal giving Manchuria to Russia's sphere of influence as long as Korea is left in the Japanese sphere. The Russian government replied negatively, stating that "it is of no interest to us to split up China" and "we firmly believe that the co-protectorate over Korea must be preserved". In response, Japan signs the Anglo-Japanese Alliance Treaty.
Nikolay Shishkin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, dies and Roman Rosen is appointed to his position. Andrey Liven also resigns, with Aleksey Yermolov taking the Ministry of State Property under his leadership.
Roman Rosen, a known proponent of keeping the Russian and German alliances intact, suggests requesting the renewal of the Reinsurance Treaty. Upon its renewing, Rosen, with Vladimir III's sanctioning, proposes a new treaty with the Germans, modifying the aforementioned treaty, making it so that in the event of a Russian declaration of war against Austro-Hungary, Germany would join on Russia's side, and in the event of a German declaration of war against France, the Russian Empire would join the German.
Alexander Guchkov, a Duma deputy and member of the Party of Reform, leaves the party, with the left-wing of the party (which he leads), because of the dissatisfaction with the growing conservatism in the party. The group joins the Progressive Democratic Party, significantly weakening the Party of Reform.
The Ministry of State Property is reformed into the Ministry of Agriculture and State Property.
The May Coup in Serbia, which brings the Карађорђевић (Karađorđević) dynasty to power and restores a liberal constitution, is supported by Russia.
An anarchist organisation is founded in Russia, under the name of "Черное Знамя" (Black Banner), using terrorism as a tactic to achieve their goals. In the attempt to eradicate the organisation, the Gendarmes use repressive measures and arrests numerous innocent individuals, and upon hearing this, Vladimir proposes a Decree, which passes through parliament, restricting the activities of all branches of police - City and Provincial Police forces, and especially the Gendarme Corps. Nevertheless, the anarchist terrorist organisation is shut down, with leading members arrested and sentenced to hard labour or exiled. However, all sentences were replaced with short prison sentences upon the Emperor's order.
The sentences made by the Military Court-Martial (as terrorists and revolutionaries were tried in Russia) uncovered a root problem with the Russian judicial system - while the political, social and economic progress is apparent, there is not much in the sphere of justice. Despite the 1864 Judicial Reform being progressive for its time, Russia had moved on and needed a new set Judicial Charter. As a result, an in depth programme of reforming the judicial system further was started, where the Tsar and both Duma and Council worked together to formulate a new Judicial Charter.
Boris Chicherin, President of the Russian Duma, dies. As leader of the Progressive Democrat fraction in the Duma, the party had to nominate a new parliamentary leader and candidate for President. On the Congress of the Party, a plurality of members nominated Pavel Milyukov. Some of the members who were backing the more moderate Vladimir Nabokov (son of the Minister of Internal Affairs) switched to Milyukov on the second ballot, and Milyukov became parliamentary leader. He was known as a radical liberal, ardent proponent of social liberalism in the Russian Empire, and leader of the left-wing of the party, willing to work with the Labour Party of Aleksey Peshekhonov. However, his election as leader was not taken lightly by the right-wing, led by Alexander Guchkov (originally a Reformist, he left with his left-wing faction to become the right-wing of the Progressive Democratic Party), who threatened to form their own party. However, with the centre wing's mediation, the unity of the party was preserved. However, the party split into three factions - the Constitutionalist faction, mostly consisting of the right-wing and centre-right, who wanted moderate reform in some areas, the Parliamentarist faction mostly consisting of the centre and centre-left, who wanted to further expand the powers of parliament, and especially the Duma and the Progressive, also known as the Radical, faction who wanted to introduce social liberal reforms, and further empower the Russian parliament. During the election of a new State Duma President, the majority of the Constitutionalist faction (39 seats) voted with the Party of Reform (98 seats) for the Reformist candidate, Nikolay Khomyakov, however, the Parliamentarist (69 seats), Progressive (64 seats) and remainder of the Constitutionalist (16 seats) factions, as well as the Trudoviks (25 seats), Social Democrats (four seats) and the Narodniks (five seats) voted for Milyukov, and with a majority of 183 seats, Milyukov becomes the President of the State Duma.
The Russian Minister of Internal Affairs, Dmitriy Nabokov, dies, and is replaced by Pyotr Stolypin, Reformist Governor of the Samara Governorate. Georgiy Lvov, a Parliamentarist Tula Governorate representative of the State Council, is elected leader of the Progressive Democrats.
Russia (unlike in OTL), competes in the 1904 Olympics, placing 5, in front of Hungary and behind Canada.
Elections to the III State Duma and VII State Council occur. In the Duma, the Progressive Democrats gain 211 seats (141 raw plus one-fifth seats), the Reformists gain 79 seats, the Trudoviks gain 30 seats, the Unionists gain 12 seats, the Narodniks gain seven seats, the RSLP gain six seats and the Social Democrats gain five seats. In the Council, the Progressive Democrats gain 101 seats, the Reformists gain 81 seats, the Trudoviks gain eight seats, the Unionists gain six seats, the Social Democrats gain two seats, the Narodniks gain one seat and the RSLP gain one seat. Fyodor Golovin (Parliamentarist) retains his Chairmanship over the State Council, with a majority of 128 seats (101 Progressive Democrats, eight Trudoviks, two Social Democrats, one Narodnik and 16 Reformists) as does Milyukov (Progressive), who retains his Presidency of the Duma with a majority of 209 seats (81 Parliamentarists, 68 Progressives, 18 Constitutionalists, 30 Trudoviks, seven Narodniks and five Social Democrats). The continuous loss of seats by the Union of Russian People had brewed tensions within the party, and after the 1904 elections, there was a lot of calls for the resignation of the elderly Konstantin Pobedonostsev within the party. Pobedonostsev reluctantly resigned, but appointed his successor - Alexander Dubrovin. Unhappy with this, the moderate wing left the party, and formed their own "Russian National Patriotic Party". Pyotr Balashev was elected leader of the new RNPP. This party was of a nationalist and conservative liberal outlook, taking the farthest right position on the spectrum of liberal parties.
In the period of 1901-1904, the Japanese had been building up their military strength, eager to wage war with their main rival, Russia. However, despite Katsura Tarō's militaristic government apparent readiness for war, they were unable to find a valid argument to do so. The casus belli appeared after the Russian government (officially the Russo-Chinese Bank) made a deal with the government of the Guangxu Emperor to build the South Manchurian Railway from Harbin (one of the stations on the Chinese Eastern Railway, built in 1896 after the Li-Lobanov treaty was signed) to Port Arthur, the home port of the Russian Imperial Pacific Squadron, constructed in 1898 on the leased Liaodong peninsula.
The Japanese government demanded that the Qing Empire immediately shut down the building operations. The Guangxu Emperor refused to do so, and on the pretext of "protecting Chinese sovereignty in the face of Russian enroachment", Japan ceased all diplomatic relations with Russia and declared war. Russian forces guarding the construction of the railway, consisting of the 1st East-Siberian Rifle Division and the Ussuriysk Mounted Brigade, was ordered to take up battle positions and fortify along the railway. General-from-the-Infantry Nikolay Linevich was appointed as Commander-in-Chief of the land forces, Admiral Evgeniy Alekseev as Commander-in-Chief of the fleets and General-from-the-Infantry Mikhail Skobelev as overall Commander-in-Chief, simultaneously also appointed to the positions of Amur and Irkutsk Governor-General (and Chief of the corresponding Military Districts). Nikolay Linevich immediately assumed control of the only corps stationed in Irkutsk Governorate-General, the II and III Siberian Corps, and formed the Manchurian Army, swiftly redeploying them to Manchuria. Evgeniy Alekseev was slow to react, however, only redeploying the flotillas scattered across the shores of the Far East to Port Arthur a full 48 hours after receiving the news. Skobelev and reinforcements (the newly raised IV and V Siberian Corps and the Siberian Cossack Divison) soon arrived on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Forming another army (the 2nd Manchurian), and reassigning the I Siberian Corps (excluding the 1st East-Siberian Rifle Division and the Ussuriysk Mounted Brigade, which were stationed on the SMR) to the command of Linevich's 1st Manchurian Army, he marched with the troops to Manchuria. Skobelev was relying on the war on land, ordering the Pacific Squadron to not engage but defend Port Arthur, and assuming personal control over one of the armies was essential, in his mind.
Meanwhile, Japanese forces had moved into northern Korea, part of the Russian sphere of influence. All forces in Korea were told to delay the Japanese with skirmishes, all the while retreating from Korea. This tactic allowed the Russians to deploy all their forces on defensive positions in Manchuria. Upon taking up defensive positions, the 1st East-Siberian Division and Ussuriysk Mounted Brigade were recalled from the SMR and reassigned to the I Siberian Corps, to which it belonged previously. In addition, the reserve Transbaikal Cossack regiments were raised into the Transbaikal Cossack Division, as well as the same to the Amur Cossacks, forming the Amur Cossack Division, with the former assigned to the 1st Manchurian Army, and the latter to the 2nd. This meant the 1st Manchurian Army consisted of: I, II and III Siberian Corps and the Transbaikal Cossack Division; the 2nd Manchurian Army: IV and V Siberian Corps and the Siberian and Amur Cossack Divisions; the garrison of Port Arthur: 4th and 7th East-Siberian Rifle Division
At the same time, the Japanese Navy attacked Port Arthur in the night, however, despite initial losses of ships from torpedo attacks, the Russian Pacific Squadron, with support from heavy guns on the Port Arthur fortress managed to repel the assault and Port Arthur was defended.
At the turn of the year, the Russians had completely withdrawn from Korea and were holding the line Port Arthur - Mukden - Khabarovsk - Vladivostok. When Japanese firces stepped into Manchuria, the Qing Empire, eager to test out their new, reformed army, looking for revenge for the defeat in the Sino-Japanese War, and fulfilling the terms of the Li-Lobanov treaty, take this as an act of aggression, and declare war on Japan. The Japanese are surprised but not offset, believing China to be a weak opponent.
At the same time, the German Empire, unable to help with a direct military intervention, instead begins supporting the Russians from military intervention of the English or French. For this reason, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance never comes into effect, despite the Japanese asking for it to be triggered by the end of the war.
The first major battle occurred on the river Sha, not far south from Mukden. The Japanese attempted to push through this region in order to cut off Port Arthur and assault it from both sides. Marshal Ōyama Iwao commanded the 1st and 2nd Armies numbering 200 000 Japanese, while Nikolay Linevich commanded the 1st Manchurian Army numbering 160 000 men. The Japanese 1st Army moved against the Russian left flank, while the 2nd against the right. The aim of Marshal Ōyama was to push past the flanks and surround the centre, destroy it and therefore destroy the crux of the 1st Manchurian Army. Linevich, seeing the move, waited to see what would happen with the flanks. The first three assaults failed, however, on the 4th assault on the left flank, the Japanese started pushing. The reserves were sent over to the critical area and the situation returned under Linevich's control. Having suffered heavy casualties of 50-70 000 men and being fatigued, the Japanese begun a withdrawal, however, they were pursued by Linevich who counter-attacked, resulting in a further 30-40 000 casualties. Linevich, pushed forwards with his entire army, moving the line far past Mukden, until Skobelev ordered him to stop. The Japanese spent the next few months recovering and the front reached stalemate. During this period, the Russian forces received reinforcements in the shape of the Qing North-Eastern Army.
After the Japanese had recovered, they launched an attack on the North-Eastern Army with a small force of 75 000 men, against the 180,000 Qing soldiers, led by Li Hongzhang, formerly Viceroy of Guangdong province, now Foreign Minister of the reformed Qing state and a respected military commander. Despite his force still being armed less up to standard than both Russian and Japanese forces, the quality of the weaponry was still adequate, and counting for the numerical superiority the Chinese had, the Japanese unit was overwhelmed and almost all killed or captured. This was a serious setback for the Japanese who had to call for reinforcements from the islands, all the while the Russian and Qing Empires continuously received reinforcements from the their lands. Skobelev used this moment of weakness to begin a major offensive, and so did Li Hongzhang a few days later. Most of the time the Japanese retreated, leaving arriergarde forces to cover the withdrawals. The war which started seemingly in Japan's favour was quickly turning into a military disaster. In Japan, public calls for Katsura Tarō to resign and Ōyama Iwao to be removed from the post of Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Manchuria.
By the end of the year, the Japanese had established secure defensive lines on the border between Manchuria and Korea. In an attempt to break the stalemate, the Japanese launched a second attempt to take Port Arthur. Sending most of their navy to the fort, they commenced the attack, which at first seemed in Japan's favour. Destroying most of the Russian Pacific Flotilla, the proceeded to land troops and bombard the fort. However, the heroic defense of Port Arthur by General-Major Roman Kondratenko repulsed the assault and destroyed most of the Japanese navy and the landing army. This was a blow that Japan could not recover from. Its manpower, resources and industry had already been overextended, but the loss of the majority of the Imperial Navy, and a substantial number of land troops meant that Japan had nothing to reinforce their army with, which resulted in discussions in the cabinet and parliament about making peace.
Japanese, Russian and Qing representatives gather in Portsmouth, USA, to discuss the terms of the peace treaty, under President Theodore Roosevelt's mediation. The Russian delegation propose to keep that status quo, with the exception of the Kuril Isalnds being ceded to Russia and Japan completely withdrawing forces from Korea, and instead establishing a co-protectorate between the Russian and Qing Empires, with Korea being split on the 127th meridian into Russian and Qing spheres of influence, as well as reparations to Russia and China. The Chinese delegation largely agreed with the Russian delegation's proposals, but demanded higher indemnities as well as the return of Formosa and Pescadore Islands to the Qing administration. The Japanese delegation was willing to sign the Russian proposal, however not the Chinese. The two allies developed a new proposal, where the Kuril Islands would be ceded to the Russian Empire, Formosa and the Pescadore Islands to the Qing Empire, Korea would be cleared of Japanese troops and advisors, withdrawing their sphere of influence from mainland Asia, and instead being split between Qing and Russian spheres along the 127th meridian, as well as a co-protectorate of Russia and China being established. Japan was also forced to pay minimal indemnities to Russia and moderately large to China. In order to ensure that the Japanese were willing to sign the peace, the agreement also limited the number of Russian soldiers allowed to be stationed in Qing territories and Qing soldiers in Russian territories. The peace agreement was signed by the Russian Emepror, Vladimir III, and Foreign Minister, Roman Rosen, Qing Emperor, Guangxu, and Foreign Minister, Li Hongzhang, Japanese Emperor, Meiji, and Foreign Minister Saionji Kinmochi, thus officially ending the Great Asian War.
After peace returned to the Empire, both Skobelev and Linevich were promoted to the position of General-Fieldmarshal and awarded Orders of Saint George I class for skillful commanding of the Second and First Manchurian Armies respectively. In addition, for his services in organising the logistics and reinforcement of the two armies fighting in Manchuria, War Minister, Milyutin, is promoted to General-Fieldmarshal as well, and also receives the Order of Saint George I class. General-Fieldmarshal Nikolay Linevich is reappointed to his position as Governor-General of Irkutsk and Chief of the Irkutsk Military District, as is Evgeniy Alekseev, who returns as Governor-General of Amur and Chief of the Amur Military District. Skobelev is reappointed as Chief of General Staff.
Throughout the war, the All-Russian Telegraph Agency was important in delivering the news from the frontlines to the people, and this made it more popular for businessmen to open private telegraph agencies, due to the fact that the government earned quite a bit of money through the sales of newspapers.
The money received from the reparations were mostly spent on paying back Russian debts, as the Russian Emperor began a program of the elimination of the Russian national debt. Alongside this newfound project, the combined project of the Emperor's government, State Duma and State Council of developing a new Judicial Charter, which was stopped due to the Great Asian War, is resumed.
The Emperor proposes three Decrees, one on the reduction of the workday to nine hours, one on the increase of the minimum weekly income to 25 roubles and one on the legalisation of trade unions and strike action. The first two pass through parliament with no problems, but the latter Decree had problems passing in the State Council, because the more conservative members of the Party of Reform, as well as the RNPP and Unionists, voted against it, disagreeing with the general legalisation of strikes, the Reformists and RNPP wanting to limit it only to workers striking for their own conditions, and the Unionists being against the legalisation of unions and strikes in general, but the Decree passes through anyway.
Konstantin Pobedonostsev, Ober-Procurator of the Most Holy Synod, dies, and is replaced with a Reformist State Council member representing the Samara Governorate, Vladimir Lvov.
Mikhail Nakashidze, who served as a volunteer during the Great Asian War, designs an armoured car using his experiences on the frontlines. The armoured car was a significant improvement on the 50CV armoured car in France made five years earlier, and was built on the chassis of the 50CV (created by the company "Charron, Girardot et Voigt") and had the same engine, however had full armour plating, instead of partial, as well as other improvements. A prototype was built, and after testing, it was found to be suitable, and adopted for military service and serial production was established.
Elections into the III State Duma and VIII State Council occur. In the Duma, the Progressive Democrats gain 214 seats (144 raw + 1/5 seats), the Reformists gain 76 seats, the Trudoviks gain 31 seats, the RNPP gains 13 seats, the Social Democrats gain six seats, the Narodniks gain five seats, the RSLP gain three seats and the Unionists gain two seats. In the Council, the Progressive Democrats gain 102 seats, the Reformists gain 76 seats, the Trudoviks gain eight seats, the RNPP gains seven seats, the Unionists gain three seats, the Social Democrats gain two seats, the Narodniks gain one seat and the RSLP gains one seat. Both incumbent speakers retain their positions, with Fyodor Golovin gaining a 129 seat majority in the Council (102 Progressive Democrats, eight Trudoviks, two Social Democrats, one Narodnik and 16 Reformists), and Pavel Milyukov gaining a 212 seat majority in the Duma (82 Parliamentarists, 70 Progressives, 18 Constitutionalists, 31 Trudoviks, six Social Democrats and five Narodniks).
Austrian Foreign Minister, Alois Lexa von Aehrenthal, sends a message to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Roman Rosen, asking whether Russia would back the annexation of Bosnia, Herzegovina and the Sanjak Novi Pazar, in return for concessions. The Russian government answered with a firm negative reply, however von Aehrenthal pleaded more, without success, however. Then, he negotiated a treaty with the Ottoman Empire, paying them monetary compensations in return for the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (not the Sanjak of Novi Pazar however). In response, the Serbian government demanded the reversal of the annexation or a compensation of being granted the north-west strip of the Sanjak. However, both the Ottomans and Austria refused, resulting in the mobilisation of the Serbian Army. Russia also demanded the reversal, and began partial mobilisation. At the same time, the Knyaz of Bulgaria, Franz Joseph I Battenberg, declared full independence from the Ottoman Empire, declaring himself Tsar and getting crowned in Plovdiv. The Ottomans were further enraged, and moved troops into the Bulgarian Tsardom. As a result, Russia demanded the vacation of Bulgaria of Ottoman troops within 24 hours, and intensified the mobilisation. After the Ottoman Empire did not fulfil the demands, Vladimir III, after an emergency meeting of the Committee of Ministers, issued a Decree on the "Declaration of War on the Ottoman Empire". Swiftly passing through both chambers of parliament (due to an extraordinary calling of them), the Russian Empire, was officially at war with the Ottoman.
This had major repercussions, as then Serbia declared war on the Ottoman Empire, followed by Montenegro. Bulgaria officially also announced that a state of war had existed between them and the Ottomans ever since their troops had entered Bulgarian territory. Austria then declared war on Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Russia. Then Germany declared war on the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, which came as a shock to most of the world. The Austrian government, despite having cool relations with the German Empire, never expected them to go to war, but they did not know about the secret treaty with Russia. Greece also joined the war, followed by Romania. As a result of this war, many minorities on Ottoman territories began rebellions, including the Albanians, Kurds and Armenians. All of the countries involved declared a general mobilisation, and war was unavoidable.
Despite the rebellions and some minor border skirmishes throughout the latter part of 1908, the major battles began in 1909. Chief of General Staff, Dmitriy Skobelev is swiftly appointed to the position of Commander-in-Chief, and Grand Duke Nikolay Nikolaevich is appointed Chief of General Staff in his place, who immediately begin the formation of an effective fighting force. The Western Corps were immediately combined to form the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Armies and moved to the Austro-Hungarian border and the two Caucasian Corps are merged into the Caucasian Army. The two Turkestan Corps are dispatched to the Caucasus as the three Siberian Corps also begin movement, but with no specific aim, intended as a reserve by Skobelev.
With forces being mobilised and the professional troops moving towards battle positions, Skobelev, Commander-in-Chief, Grand Duke Nikolay, Chief of General Staff and Milyutin, War Minister, work together to ensure supply trains and convoys were successful in delivering the required resources to the units.
The first major battles occurred around Krakow, where the 1st Army, under the command of General-from-the-Cavalry, Alexey Brusilov, attacked the Austrian I Corps. The outnumbered and unprepared Austrians were taken off guard and were pushed back into the city, where they put up a stubborn defence. Placing the city under siege, the rest of Brusilov's force continued, setting up defensive positions on the line Wisła - Nowy Targ - Nowy Sacz.