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Kornilov Affair

The Kornilov Affair was the failed military coup by General Lavr Kornilov against the Provisional Government[?] of Aleksandr Kerensky in September 1917[?], in between the fall of the Tsars and the October Revolution. Recently appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Russian army, General Kornilov decided to intervene in the chaotic situation of Russia after the July Days[?]. Kerensky was later to claim that Kornilov's actions were a turning point in the revolution, a crucial factor in the sudden revival of the Bolshevik cause.

Kornilov shared the widespread belief of many middle-class Russians that the country was descending into anarchy and that military defeat would be disastrous for Russian pride and honour. Lenin and his 'German spies', he announced, should be hanged, the Soviets stamped out, military discipline restored and the provisional government 'restructured'.

Kerensky dismissed his commander-in-chief from his post on September 9, claiming Kornilov intended to set up a military dictatorship. Kornilov replied by issuing a call to all Russians to 'save their dying land' and ordered his Cossacks to advance on Petrograd. Uncertain of the support of his army generals, Kerensky had to ask for help from other quarters.

Kornilov's attempt to seize power collapsed without bloodshed as his Cossacks deserted his cause. He and some 7000 'supporters' were arrested. Although Kerensky survived the Kornilov coup, that event weakened his government and strengthened the Bolsheviks.



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