February 26 in Russian history

1832: Poland becomes a part of the Russian Empire. After the Third Partition of Poland, a semi-autonomous state was formed on the territory belonging to Russia, the Congress Kingdom of Poland. The Kingdom had a constitution but was ruled by the Russian emperor. With time, emperors Alexander I and, especially, Nicholas I began to violate the constitution and became autocratic rulers. This was one of the reasons which caused the uprising of 1830. After the suppression of the uprising, in February 1832, a new decree was issued, called the Organic Statute of the Kingdom of Poland which abolished the Polish army and the Sejm (legislative body). The Statute officially turned Poland into a part of the Empire.

1878: Ivan Franko is put under trial on the false accusation of being a member of a socialist organization. Franko was an interesting personality. He was born in 1856 near Lviv, in Galicia, which was a part of Austria-Hungary at that time. Lviv (Lemberg) was the capital of Galicia. The region was inhabited mostly by Ukrainians (or Ruthenians), but ruled by the Polish aristocracy. In 1875, Franko entered the Lviv university and joined a circle of the so called "moscowphiles". The popularity of pro-Russian sentiments in the Western Ukraine in XVIII-XIX centuries may be explained by weak self-identification of the Ruthenians. In spite of relatively tolerant position of the government of Austria-Hungary towards the Ukrainian language, this language was perceived as "low" and "uncultured" by the Ukrainians themselves. The attempts of self-identification were directed to affiliation with a larger cultural unity: Polish, Russian or Austria. The Russian party was one of the strongest for a number of reasons, especially in the second half of the XIX century. They published a number of magazines and newspapers. Trying to limit the influence of the moscowphiles, the Austrian authorities started a number of trials, accusing them in treason and anti-Austrian conspiracies. Ivan Franko was a member of one such group and he was sentenced to 9 months in jail and had to leave the university after the term. He spent these months in one room with thieves and vagabonds. This period defined his writing style. He wrote about workers and peasants who were forced by poverty to commit crimes. He also writes stories from Jewish life, which was rather unusual in those days, when anti-Semitism was a norm of everyday life. His stories were often called "radical" and "naturalistic", but the critics recognized the talent of the writer. Paradoxically, the moscowphiles gave the first impulse to the Ukrainian national movement, partially because Austria saw Russia as the worst of the three evils and attempted to replace the moscowphile tendencies with the ideas of the Ukrainian revival.

1917: Civil unrest in Petrograd. The State Duma is dissolved. On midday, demonstrations begin, which are dispersed with armed forces. Barricades are built on the streets and a general strike begins.

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