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The Petrograd Soviet

The opposition culminated in a general strike. It began on 20 September with a walk-out by the Moscow printers - the most educated group of workers - for better pay and conditions. They fought the police and erected barricades. Next the railway workers joined the strike.

By 10 October virtually the entire railway network had come to a halt. Millions of other workers - factory, shop and transport workers, bank and office employees, hospital staff, teachers, lecturers, even the actors of the Imperial Theatre of St Petersburg - came out in support of what had become in effect a national strike against the autocracy.

The organization of the general strike owed much to the Soviet of Workers Deputies established in St Petersburg on 17 October. The word 'soviet' means 'council' in Russian - there is nothing particularly Communist about it - and the Petersburg Soviet was really no more than an ad hoc council of workers established to direct the general strike. It published its own newspaper, Izvestiia, to keep strikers informed of developments, established a militia, distributed food supplies, and by its example inspired workers in fifty other cities to set up Soviets of their own.

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