Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, March 19, 2018

100 Years Ago: Moscow Becomes Russia's Capital

In March 1918, as a matter of prudence and precaution, Lenin made the decision to move the seat of his government to Moscow.

November 1918: Lenin at Red Square, Moscow, on the First Anniversary of the Revolution

His new government, which came to power in a coup d'etat organized primarily by Leon Trotsky, was susceptible to the same sort of overthrow. Petrograd was a politically active city with lots of monarchists, anarchists, socialists, and angry liberals still roaming the street. Furthermore, its location was difficult to defend. Its location on the coast made it vulnerable to landing parties, and it was just 20 miles from Finland, where a civil war had broken out in January 1918. Germany sent troops there, and should the anti-Bolsheviks prevail there—which they eventually did—hostile troops would have only a short distance to travel to occupy the capital.

Military Rehearsal at Red Square (Reuters)

Today, there is speculation that St. Petersburg native Vladimir Putin dreams of moving Russia's capital back to his hometown. But in the 21st century, Moscow has become an even more concentrated center for Russia's economy, military, and resurgent religion.

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