Workers Revolts against the Bolshevik regime

It wasn’t only peasants who launched resistance to the Bolshevik regime. Workers began to strike and riot against the Bolsheviks to demand better food supply from winter 1918. In spring 1919 a general strike broke out in Petrograd. Ten thousand struck at the Putilov works, and under Left SR agitation the demand for free soviets was raised, with freedom of speech and assembly, elimination of the Cheka and a denunciation of the Bolsheviks as traitors to the revolution. Similar strikes broke out in Moscow. A mass wave of strikes spread across the Urals.

In February 1921 another strike movement began in Petrograd. There had been a very severe winter, the bread ration had been reduced to half a pound and there was a severe shortage of fuel. Because of this some factories were temporarily closed by Zinoviev and the Petrograd Soviet and the workers in these factories reduced to half rations. It became known that Communist Party members in new enterprises were receiving clothing and shoes whilst others were walking around in rags. As a result a mass meeting of factory workers was convened, which was quickly banned by the authorities. On February 23rd a strike brought out the Trubochny factory. The strikers demanded an increase in the food ration and a distribution of shoe stocks. Bolshevik troops confronted the strikers, firing in the air. Five other factories then joined the strike movement. A mass demonstration was prevented by Red Army cavalry. By February 27th the strike movement had spread. The authorities imposed a state of emergency and Zinoviev organised a Defence Committee, met with public and private capitalists and announced a lockout of the workers. However the strike continued to grow and was joined by the Putilov workers. The movement had now gone beyond demands around rations and began to criticise the ban on workers’ meetings and for free elections in the soviets and trade unions. Zinoviev then accused the movement of being controlled by the Mensheviks and SRs. Mass arrests of strikers began. This was the situation in Petrograd prior to the Kronstadt uprising and which it partly helped ignite.