February 1 in Russian history

1816: A group of army officers founded the first secret political society "Soyuz spaseniya" (Union of salvation). This union became the first organization of the Decembrists -- a group of Russian nobility, mostly army officers, who planned to replace the autocratic monarchy with constitutional monarchy and to abolish serfdom. During 1816-1818 the society members were convinced that the reforms are near, that the constitution would be adopted soon. The main task of the Union of Salvation was to prepare the Russian society to accept these reforms and to prevent any delays. In 1816, the strategy was still under development. Contrary to widespread opinion, the ideas of the Decembrists were not imported from the West during military campaigns of the Napoleon wars. These ideas had their origin in deep religious sentiments. The first Decembrists were theorists rather than revolutionaries and did not plan any actions directed at the achievement of their goals. In 1820-1821, the situation changed dramatically, after the wave of terror in Europe. Emperor Alexander was frightened and drastically changed the government policy towards repressions. Only then the idea of regicide became dominant among the Decembrists. After 1820, new societies appeared and many new people joined the Decembrists. Most of these new people were less educated and more radical. In the end, their dominance led to the December revolt of 1825.

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