12 Years Under Twin Nicholas (Military Dictatorship in the last 12 years of the Russian Empire)

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Home of the Many Revolutions
EDIT: This is my first timeline ever, so any feedback would be really, really welcome. Thanks guys.

Home of the Many Revolutions

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When did the 20th century truly start?

Some say on the 28th of January 1919, when the First World War ended. The world would find that the German, Austrian, Ottoman and Russian Empires; once fearsome powers that loomed large over the world, had existed no longer.

Some say on the 1st of May 1920, when the Soviet Union, the world’s first socialist state was founded. Once only regarded as the dream of utopian revolutionaries and disillusioned proletarians, the declaration of the Soviet Union would forever alter the course of human history.

Some say on the 11th of November 1928, when the German Dual Power collapsed. The proceeding Civil War between the Fascists and the Spartacists would forever galvanize both of their totalitarian ideologies onto the modern world.

Some say on the 16th of July 1947, when the Second World War ended and the Cold War began. The plurality of great powers and civilizations of the world would see themselves reduced to their allegiance in the binary dichotomy of American Liberalism or Soviet Socialism.

But perhaps the most unexplored, and in hindsight the most accurate answer would be that the 20th century started on the 30th of October 1905.

Having just capitulated to Imperial Japan in the Russo-Japanese War; being the only European empire to lose to an Asian nation in war had been a humiliation that was too much to bear for Russia, and the widespread social unrest caused due to the growing need for reform in virtually all aspects of its ossified society eventually erupted into a mass movement on the 22nd of January 1905. There were demands for democracy, liberty, equality, and an end to the Romanov dynasty. Worker strikes, military mutinies and peasant unrests were common across the Russian Empire, and the fate of the Romanov dynasty looked to be extremely precarious.

Nicholas II had considered publishing a precursor document to a national constitution called "The Manifesto on the Improvement of the State Order" drafted by Sergei Witte (later known to be called the October Manifesto), in order to please the populace. The October Manifesto was designed to be an early framework for a liberal democratic government down the line. Tsar Nicholas himself did not think highly of the reforms, seeing it as a bastardization of centuries of enlightened autocratic rule that had been tradition since Kievan Rus’.

What he actually wanted was to establish a military dictatorship with Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich as its head, the one man Nicholas II saw as possessing the prestige and popularity to keep the allegiance of the Army in this proposed coup. But this plan did not entice the Grand Duke, as his reaction to the Tsar’s suggestion was pulling out his pistol and threatening to shoot himself in the head if the Tsar did not publish the Manifesto. The pleads fell on deaf ears, as the Tsar simply told the Grand Duke that he would simply have to find someone else instead.

As motivated as the Grand Duke was, he eventually dropped the gun, knowing full well that the Russian Army would sooner mutiny than find themselves taking orders from an up-jump general, seconds after hearing the news of their dear Grand Duke’s protest suicide. He found himself in the duty of not only having to spare the Empire’s subjects from Nicholas’ iron will, but a potential slaughter of thousands brought forth by a vengeful and rebellious Imperial Army. With a long look down at the floor of the Winter Palace in the midst of silence that stretched into discomfort, he accepted the Tsar's offer.

The military junta was established on October 30th 1905. It’s initial goal was to quash the revolutionaries, bring back order and stability, and remove agitators from the Empire that threatened its political security. With Tsar Nicholas II serving as the head of state and supreme authority, and Grand Duke Nicholas serving as military strongman under his new rank of Generalissimo of the Imperial Russian Army; the junta came to be known as the Twin Nicholas Dictatorship, or the Twin Nicholas Regime.

What was initially seen as only a provisional measure to stabilize the Empire soon became one of the most studied and analyzed periods of Russian history; not just for its governance and brutality, but the consequences it had for the rest of global politics that only came to be recognized decades after its downfall. While the Twin Nicholas Regime was founded long before the terminology was coined, and it only began indulging in its characteristically totalitarian excesses in the later half of its existence, it is now commonly accepted by historians that the Twin Nicholas Dictatorship was functionally the first fascist state in modern history.
 
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The Rise of the Black Hundreds
The Rise of the Black Hundreds

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Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia
Generalissimo of the Russian Imperial Army, Chairman of the Council for Imperial Reorganization

Despite its initial appearance of an aristocratic class reconsolidating power over a belligerent populace, the policy choices and backdoor alliances made by the Twin Nicholas Regime would irreversibly affect class relations within the Russian Empire, and would later contribute to the severity of the February Revolution. Deep down, the Grand Duke supported Sergei Witte's October Manifesto, and the future prospect of Russia becoming a constitutional monarchy with a strong liberal democracy. But what he saw at present in Russian society was not something he thought could sustain such a system.

While Grand Duke Nicholas was no stranger to the politics at the Imperial Court, he knew that only securing the allegiance of the aristocracy would be insufficient in maintaining order. He needed to win over the urban workers, the peasantry and the burgeoning capitalist class; to remind them that the continued glory of Imperial Russia is something worth preserving more than the short-term needs of the individual man. Continuing to neglect that fact over and over again being the Tsar's biggest folly was something he would never admit to out loud, but a thought he believed in wholeheartedly. It simply wasn't enough for there to be political rights for the people and leaving it at that. It was clear that class disparity and inequality have been an extremely sore point for the Russian people, and the invigoration of pride and support for the Empire that once used to bring all of Russia together in joy and songs had been at an all-time low. Russia needed urgent socioeconomic reforms, it needed a period of stability, and it needed to believe in the Monarchy again.

What the Tsar, and pretty much anyone else did not know at that time was that the Grand Duke was determined to bring that change to the Russian Empire from day one of the military regime. If Witte couldn't bring the Tsar to do it, he would have to. Grand Duke Nicholas would eventually found the Council for Imperial Reorganization as a provisional ruling cabinet, whose members would be chosen by the Tsar at the Grand Duke's behest. In an effort to secure an alliance with the rising bourgeoisie class and implement liberal financial reforms that he thought was necessary, he would "compel" the Kadet leaders Pavel Miliukov and Peter Struve to serve the provisional government as Minister of Commerce and State Property respectively.

Sergei Witte had resigned in protest to the dictatorship, and a new head of government would be necessary to push through reforms to stabilize the peasant class, a job that both Nicholas' agreed to bring Pyotr Stolypin for. Stolypin would be appointed as the Deputy Chairman of the Council for Imperial Reorganization, but in practice would be given a carte blanche to push through reforms he deemed necessary for the economy. Alexander Izvolsky would be appointed as Foreign Minister in hopes of assuring Russia's international allies that the change in regime would not translate to a change in foreign commitments.

While the junta was trying its best to establish connections with both the old and new elites, a rising movement brewing within the Empire would soon come to the forefront of Russian politics. Spurred on by the legacy of reactionary political organizations such as the Russian Assembly and the Holy Brigade came several different groups of anti-revolutionary, far-right political organizations and paramilitaries; all united in support of the Tsar. These swaths of right-wing groups would come to be known under the umbrella term of the Black Hundreds; and in their rhetoric of ultranationalism, xenophobia, antisemitism, autocracy and religious fundamentalism would the Grand Duke find exactly what he was looking for. The conservative clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church had already courted the Black Hundreds into a coalition of mutual support, and the most significant of the Black Hundreds movements named the Union of the Russian People (URP) would become highly popular with the ruling junta.

Both the Tsar and the Grand Duke were highly supportive of the URP, with the Tsar personally patronizing them and wearing their badge as a symbol of support; while the Grand Duke was supplying them with weaponry and financial resources. While the Tsar was mostly content to know that a group of people still adored and respected him, the Grand Duke noticed the membership of the Black Hundreds, and especially the URP was composed from all walks of life: aristocrats, clergy members, urban workers, farmers, artisans, merchants, academics and military personnel; forgetting their differences of background, doing away with their disparities of class, and all coming together for a singular cause. Within the Union of the Russian People, the Generalissimo Grand Duke Nicholas found a reinvigorated nationalist ideology that could supplant class conflict with class collaboration.
 
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The State Within a State
The State Within a State

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With the assistance and backing of the Twin Nicholas Regime, the URP would eventually absorb all other Black Hundred movements into itself, transforming into an all-encompassing political organization that was granted extrajudicial permission to form its own paramilitary wing called the Russian People United (RPU), willing to enforce the will of the Tsar and the Generalissimo. The URP would prove popular among the Russian people, mostly due to how it provided a degree of social mobility and security for ordinary Russians. As time went on, the URP began to be painted as an all-encompassing representative organization of common people in the Empire, and URP leaders would be given seats within the Council for Imperial Reorganization with the Generalissimo's insistence, in hopes of conciliating the interests of the aristocracy with those of URP-represented Russian citizens. This slow consolidation of power by an up-jump political party would eventually be taken unkindly by the Tsar and his fellow aristocrats.

While appearing to be largely united on the outside, the cabinet would eventually be split into two factions: the Black Hundreds loyal to the Generalissimo, and a coalition of conservative Tsarists and anti-URP liberals that came to be known as the White Guard. The conflict between the two would come almost immediately after Pyotr Stolypin proposed reforms to privatize socially-owned peasant lands and create a market system of landholders in the agricultural sector to boost the productivity and competitiveness of the Russian economy. Alongside Stolypin, Miliukov and Struve proposed to continue the state capitalist reforms implemented by Witte, in order to continue the rising trend in Russian industrialization and preserve creditor confidence.

A significant part of the URP were members of the social strata that had either lost, or were afraid of losing their status in society as a result of reform and modernization; which included peasants, laborers and workers fearful of losing their petty wealth in the looming threat of privatization, policemen and other low-ranking state officials who risked losing their power in the new regime, and shopkeepers and artisans losing in competition against big business and industrialization. As opponents to the liberal reforms brought forth by the Stolypin-Miliukov-Struve trio, certain RPU leaders would lead protests to have them resign, accusing them of selling off Russia's wealth to Judeo-Masonic elites.

Realizing the potential liability of the URP and the RPU, the Generalissimo urged a meeting with their leaders to ease the situation. The leaders were insistent that the protests would not stand down until the liberal trio were removed from power, infamously stating that the Council was infected with unwilling Zionists. With growing frustration at the URP leaders, the Generalissimo had considered purging the faction entirely; but figured that the ensuing instability might pull the country back into another insurgency. Having run out of any legitimate ways to convince the URP, the Generalissimo offered a financial arrangement with their leaders; offering some swaths of agricultural land freed up by Stolypin's privatization, along with monetary bribe to mull them over. What he must have thought was a compromise to get through political reforms smoothly would turn out to be one of his most significant mistakes. For as the junta continued to persist, the power and wealth of the URP would continue to accumulate. Where it might have first started as a cut of land, it would soon evolve into grafts, nepotistic job positions, state-owned company stocks, cabinet promotions, and extravagant real estates.

During its 12 years of existence, the Union of Russian People would loot the Empire of its riches; in exchange for providing the Generalissimo with the unyielding loyalty of the Russian masses. This accumulation of wealth would eventually give way to a new class of nationalist oligarchs that overshadowed the pre-existing bourgeoisie. Protected by both the state and the RPU, these oligarchs would essentially live above the law like Russia's aristocracy, but their business ventures and philanthropy (often directed by the state behind-the-scenes) would be credited for bringing modernization and new wealth into the Russian economy.

URP-owned enterprises would almost exclusively hire from within the organization, and many peasants and workers would apply for membership in hopes of financial security by being employed under either the businesses or the RPU that protected them. The most infamous of their campaigns would be the forced seizure of Jewish businesses, often murdering their owners in broad daylight, and looting their assets into the ever-increasing wallets of URP bureaucrats. By 1912, The URP had essentially turned into a state within a state, protected by its own military, ran by its own ruling class, and offering its own path of social mobility to the downtrodden in Russian society.

The consolidation of power by the URP might not have been something the Generalissimo had accounted for; but as it began to happen, it was something that he would consciously allow. Despite his successes, it has been woefully clear to him that Russia's traditional aristocrats were dissatisfied with the regime. Slowly but surely, their influences in Russian politics were being sidelined by the inner circle of the junta, and any promises by the state to protect their titles and lands would not change their displeasure at the fact that the Generalissimo had the Tsar's ear more than they did. The Generalissimo knew that it was necessary for him to build a power base separate from the royals in order to assure regime stability, which pushed him into an unwilling alliance with the Black Hundreds. While he initially felt disgust at the prospect of having to bribe the URP with riches and enterprise to push through reforms, he figured that a regime with a major presence of nobility would have had those reforms die in the cradle.
 
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A Black and White War
A Black and White War

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5 years into the regime and Generalissimo Nicholas felt mostly lukewarm with the results of his cabinet. The reforms of the Stolypin-Miliukov-Struve trio had greatly boosted the productivity of the Empire's economy, with the agricultural and industrial sectors undergoing a minor boom. Foreign Minister Alexander Izvolsky had been committed to keeping the Russian Empire out of war for at least a decade, which resulted in the normalization of relations with Tokyo, an expansion of military ties with Paris, and a military alliance with London; all of which helped secure the Russian Empire new lines of credit for further economic developments.

While these developments would be a cause for celebration under normal circumstances, the URP leaders (now significantly wealthy bureaucrats) were frothing at the mouth over the fact that the White Guard faction were the ones responsible for these successes, while all the Black Hundreds had to show for was how many revolutionaries and Jews they had murdered. Nikolai Maklakov had been a rubber-stamp Internal Affairs Minister, giving carte blanches to Okhrana Chairman Vladimir Purishkevich and Minister of Police Trishatny in weeding out leftist and republican revolutionaries from the Empire; a task that both men pursued with sadistic glee, but wanting efficiency.

Saint John of Kronstadt of the Most Holy Synod, one of the most widely-known and well-loved saints in the Russian Empire had been the largest supporter of the URP in the Russian Orthodox Church, and was largely responsible for normalizing its ultranationalist rhetoric within Russia until his passing in 1909, where his role of a pro-URP leader in the Church was replaced by Hermogenes, Bishop of Tobolsk and Siberia. While Hermogenes continued to push the URP's ideology on the religious front, Minister of Education Pavel Krushevan would attempt to push it on the education front. With Krushevan's assistance, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion would be mass-published throughout the Russian Empire, and was currently under consideration to be implemented in primary school curriculums. Of all arms of the state pushing the narrative of the Generalissimo and the Tsar being saviors of the Empire, the efforts by Hermogenes and Krushevan would be especially passionate in their praises for the Generalissimo as an almost divine figure, predestined to be sent by God to save Russia from degeneration and disintegration.

There was a very clear divide between what roles of government the White Guards and Black Hundreds would be granted. While the White Guards were given responsibility over large functions of the state such as the economy and diplomacy, the Black Hundreds were left to be content with branches that were more concerned over social affairs. But the fortunes of the Black Hundreds would turn as the culpability of Alexander Izvolsky over the Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina would prove to be a massive disaster, and URP claims of Izvolsky betraying Russia's Serbian brothers, along with massive worker-led protests demanding his resignation had eventually led to his replacement with URP member Nikolai Pokrovsky. This had been a major victory for the Black Hundreds as it had put the consolidation of cabinet power within their favor. As the power struggle between the two factions became more and more heated, the other man who had the Tsar's ear would influence him to put a stop to the slow coup of the Black Hundreds.

Grigori Rasputin had been a self-proclaimed healer and Man of God, whose involvement in healing the Tsar's son's hemophilia having earned an overwhelming amount of favor from the royal family. Rasputin had been a consistent presence in the Russian court since 1906, and his companionship to the royals were poorly received by the nobles at the time, dismissing him as a mad charlatan play-acting as a priest. But as the years went on, Rasputin's presence had been increasingly entrenched in the Russian upper class, especially with the matronage of Tsarina Alexandra who regarded him as the only man with the power to keep her children healthy. And as the junta tightened its control over the upper echelons of the Russian state, it was clear to see that there were only two men left that the Tsar took serious counsel from: his cousin the Generalissimo and Grigori Rasputin.

As the nobles began to feel themselves more and more dejected under the Generalissimo's regime, they began to invite Rasputin to dinners, and balls, and parties. They flattered him, showered him with gifts, took his counsels in the matter of God and volunteered to be healed by his holy ways. Years of patronage from the Russian nobility had made Rasputin a wealthy and pampered man, and he soon found that the whispers the nobles gave him would find itself becoming whispers he gave to the Tsar. The Generalissimo was angered by the arrangement between Rasputin and the rest of the nobles, seeing it as crones of an old conservative order clawing back to influence in a world that was soon displacing them. His displeasure was something he kept to a minimum, however. Not much would be gained by further instigation of tensions. But on the October 10th of 1910 with absolutely no forewarning, Tsar Nicholas would decree to relieve Nikolai Maklakov of his duties as Interior Minister due to his carelessness in overseeing the Police and the Okhrana, appointing Boris Stürmer as his replacement to rein in the overzealousness of the Empire's security arm. It was Rasputin's whisper that did it. That much the Generalissmo knew.

The Tsar would summon the Generalissimo to let him know that with the stability of the Empire having been assured, he was planning to dismantle the junta and transition back to absolute monarchy. The Generalissimo was expecting this day would come soon enough, and he conferred with the Tsar, warning him that the recent actions of aggression by the Austro-Hungarians have made it clear that the two empires are heading towards a collision course. With the continued consolidation of the Balkans by Austria-Hungary, the Generalissimo expressed that Russia would have no choice but to intervene on behalf of its Orthodox Serbian brothers in the fight against the Catholic Austrians. The softening of the Russian government's hold on power during this war may lead to another massive insurrection like the one in 1905 to take its chance against the Empire. The dictatorship he said, would be absolutely instrumental in holding the Empire together throughout the turbulent times it may find itself under.

Silently frustrated with the Generalissimo's excuses, the Tsar dismissed him for the night, noting that they will discuss it in the morning. The Generalissimo knew the Tsar wasn't a patient man, and he felt that he still needed time for further stabilization and consolidation, and he needed to prevent the Tsar's opinion of him from souring until then. Many courses of action for the regime had been on the mind of the Generalissimo, but he found himself suddenly fumbling and rushing through thoughts on what needed to be done to ensure his grip on power.

He would confer an emergency meeting exclusively with the URP members of the Council that night, a sign that he no longer trusted the rest of the Russian government. With the discussion extending into early hours of the morning, they had reached two resolutions. The Okhrana were to organize a group of URP leaders under the covert leadership of Nikolai Maklakov to go on an excursion into Bosnia and Herzegovina as businessmen seeking to invest in the newly acquired Austro-Hungarian territory, while their actual agenda being to establish contacts with Panslavic ultranationalists within the region that could instigate civil conflicts to warrant Russian intervention. While the RPU were given the task to assassinate Grigori Rasputin, and arrange the evidence to make it as seem as leftists revolutionaries had murdered him.

It's hard to say whose idea were these originally, but historic consensus seems to show that the URP leaders themselves had essentially coaxed Nicholas into funding covert operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Rasputin's assassination was entirely the Generalissimo's idea. He had never ordered a direct hit on someone before during his tenure, but this sort of executive action was something he would eventually get used to as the regime began indulging in its most brutal of excesses.
 
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I may not have time to write more of these for a while. But I'm thinking that the continued focus on the URP that the Generalissimo has makes the original coup perpetrators of the military feel quite dejected, and the original White Russian squad of Kornilov, Wrangel, Denikin and Kolchak might conspire within the military and try to organize a countercoup against the URP-dominated cabinet. I am open to all suggestions, so feel free to let me know.
 
interesting idea for story,btw if you want to make it more fascist make generalissimo promote idea of third rome so twin nicholas can be something akin to emperor and co-emperor or Augustus and Cesar(and yes i do know tzar is russian version of Cesar)
 
But That Wasn't Real Capitalism!
But That Wasn't Real Capitalism!

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The Generalissimo's regime was beneficial for the state of Russian capitalism, but at the expense of the Russian capitalists. Due to decades of laissez-faire economic policies established in the hopes of fomenting competitive industrial and service sectors in the Empire, there had been a significant rise of private businesses that came to define its new economic zeitgeist. For every entrepreneur or salesman that wanted to start up shop, there were ready investments from local bankers, curious nobles, foreign venture capitalists or the state itself willing to take a chance on them. The overwhelming amount of these new businesses would be concentrated within the urban centers of Russia where they were generally free from the aristocracy's interference, whose primary economic domain lied in Russia's vast rural lands. Major cities such as St. Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa and Warsaw were aspiring commercial hubs; taking themselves to be inspired by the enterprises of the United States and Western Europe.

After the junta had taken power, the Generalissimo personally gave a speech on how the protection of Russian businesses will be of utmost importance to him. The Generalissimo had mostly delivered on that promise in the early years of his tenure, and even if there was now a military dictatorship looming over everyone like a sword of Damocles, it seemed that business will go on as usual for Russia's aspirant new bourgeoisie. He had even recruited prominent liberal leaders of Miliukov and Struve onto the cabinet, which was acclaimed by Russia's working classes, business-owners and intellectuals as it seemed that the Generalissimo was not only preserving the integrity of the Russian market, but actively seeking to improve its functionality. Several reforms were passed by the junta one by one, the 8-hour work day being the most significant one of all.

At the risk of alienating venture capitalists, the junta had arranged councils with numerous bourgeois leaders in Russia to compile a list of "champion businesses", enterprises that were deemed to possess potential that could be accelerated by ceding it dominant conditions in the market or by passing policies that favored these companies over others. Numerous businesses would fight over the chance to be added on the list of "champion businesses", and Russian companies became more and more sycophantic to the regime's bureaucrats to win their favor. This corporatist economic policy hadn't been a new idea thought of by the Generalissimo's cabinet, but had been a position advocated for a long time by right-wing political figures worldwide that tried to espouse an economic alternative to the mainstreams of liberalism and Marxism. But only in Russia would it be rolled out for the first time on a national scale.

But while it appeared that the Russian Empire was about to undertake a massive economic experiment, the rot had already begun to start from the head. Dubrovin, Markov and Purishkevich were once a doctor, an engineer and a pencil-pusher respectively. If their fortunes had blown any other way, it would have been likely for them to stay in these jobs until they died. But it was 1906, and they were now the Chairman of the URP, Commander of the RPU and Director of the Okhrana respectively. These three were the triumvirate that dictated the organization of the Black Hundreds, and these three were the ones that the Generalissimo would negotiate with when he wanted to "push through reforms smoothly". Holding the lion's share of the wealth and influence that the Generalissimo would carelessly grant the URP, they would eventually come to be the first of the nationalist oligarchs of the Twin Nicholas Regime. It started off as them buying up companies across the Empire when they first gained access to their newfound funds, and then it proceeded to using the RPU to seize and loot Jewish businesses under the excuse of protecting ethnic Russian enterprises, and it finally reached a point where only companies they secretly possessed ownership of were the ones that got added to the "champion businesses" list.

The further consolidation of the economic sphere by the Black Hundreds would come with their leaders wining and dining with the aristocrats and the bourgeoisie; joining them in game hunts, singing the old songs with them in lavish parties, fornicating with them in opium dens. Every single attendance between the sidelined wealthy classes and the Black Hundreds would fall to the same proposal: Join our club, have your interests be protected, and gain access to the Generalissimo's ear. It was an offer that only served to strengthen the Black Hundreds' oligarchy, and it was an offer that many would take up on.

What the sycophants of the old aristocrats and the fledgling bourgeoisie could not have realized at the time was that their insistent associations with the Black Hundreds would most-assuredly mark their death sentences 20 years later. The socialists and communists would be watching this from afar and they would remember every single name of the enablers of this dictatorship. Alongside them would be the disillusioned former liberals, heartbroken by the best and brightest of Russia fawning over this new coat of paint over feudalism. The liberals would be right to feel heartbroken in these 12 years, for it truly seemed that there was no distinction between the businessmen, the politicians, the aristocrats, and the bureaucrats. It seemed that Russia was now a place where you are either all four, or you are nothing.
 
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This certainly is a very interesting read and I'm curious how it continues. Given the kleptocracy the Black Hundreds are starting, it wouldn't surprise me if this leads to a far more extreme revolution, where groups such as the Bolshewiks (or assorted other far-left groups) have an easier time securing power and, of course, hitting back very hard against their old oppressors.
 
This certainly is a very interesting read and I'm curious how it continues. Given the kleptocracy the Black Hundreds are starting, it wouldn't surprise me if this leads to a far more extreme revolution, where groups such as the Bolshewiks (or assorted other far-left groups) have an easier time securing power and, of course, hitting back very hard against their old oppressors.
That's actually very much the intention. The title of the last chapter I wrote is supposed to be an Internet meme in the USSR of this timeline. Where some Kadet-sympathetic liberal would say "BuT tHAt waSN't ReAL caPiTaLisM!" every time some normal Soviet citizen talks about how capitalism had led Russia to the Twin Nicholas Regime.
 
The Lone Gunman New
The Lone Gunman

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There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.
- Vladimir Lenin

Few things drew Kolchak's irk more than politicking. He could scarcely listen to Kornilov and Denikin argue about whatever the hell the Generalissimo was up to. Those two weren't even supposed to be politicians; all of the men in the room were military leaders whose functions remained quite separate from those of the Tsar's Council. But the unfortunate mixing of army and state brought forth by the Generalissimo has made the distinction between soldier and bureaucrat far murkier. Kolchak had gotten used to telling himself that these were all just temporary state of affairs, and he knew he would serve himself better by avoiding these meetings. But that somehow never stopped him from arriving, a simpler man would say God himself would drag Kolchak's feet onto these meetings every night. The man sitting next to Kolchak was Petyr Wrangel, another man like him whose face may have betrayed indifference, but the feet that brought him here had betrayed uneasy curiosity.

Tonight's subject of discussion was about a murder. News had broken within the Imperial Court that the healer Rasputin was murdered hours ago. Shot several times by a lone gunman who screamed "Long live the revolution!" before taking his own life in front of the palace guards. The police investigation into the murder seemed swift, clearly one of those damned underground revolutionaries that sought to bring down the Tsar's rule. But the four colonels had a hard time trying to look away from the clear advantage the death of Rasputin gave to a particular group of people, the Black Hundreds. Had they coordinated Rasputin's assassination? Had they shot the man to further suffocate the aristocracy? And had they had a hired gun rehearse those oh-so perfect final words for excusing their incriminations and arrests even more? What remained clear was that whether it was the insurrectionaries or the Black Hundreds that had Rasputin killed, it still damaged the political influence of the nobility even further in comparison to the Generalissimo. Action needed to be taken to prevent his horde of thugs from encroaching upon the state even further. The power they already had now would be deemed unacceptable in the eyes of any other Tsar. But alas, those Tsars were men of a different century.

Ever since the younger Nicholas's promotion to the rank of Generalissimo, the military had stopped being his primary focus. Perhaps he had taken the army's support for granted, favoring over his generals to dine with the Tsar and the Black Hundreds' leaders instead. The man still had loyalists within the military for sure, but the four knew that the army's entirety had been the most stabilizing pillar for the Twin Regime, and the military's opinion would have to sway hard against the Generalissimo for the four to have any chance in overthrowing him. What would they have to do? Who would they have to eliminate? Whose allegiance did they need to secure? And would the Tsar even tolerate such dissidence within his military?

Kolchak had been the only naval officer from the four. The endless plotting of the other three had given way to a thought that the Imperial Army must have always been like this, a congress of vultures whose schemes reached from Warsaw to Chukotka. He also knew that it would be his responsibility to duplicate into the Navy any course of action of consolidation that the three had agreed on. All he wanted was to serve the Tsar. Purposefully plotting right under the Tsar's nose for the sake of the Tsar seemed a contradiction that he still was not quite used to. As Kolchak sulked on his chair and tiredly stared at the others for the hope that they would reach a consensus soon, echoes of footsteps sounded across the halls of their palace. Someone was coming. Everyone went quiet in anticipation. Kolchak stared back at the three to see Denikin and Wrangel had their nervousness clear on their faces, while Kornilov merely looked expectant.

As the footsteps came closer, Kornilov spoke, "A fifth member of our column. Someone I personally invited here. I apologize for giving no forewarnings, but the nature of his invitation had to be kept the utmost of secrets.". As the door opened and the hall lights seeped into their dark room, it was hard for Kolchak to recognize the visage shrouded in shadow. But Kolchak's eyes would widen, for the figure who came further into recognition and familiarity with every forthcoming step was his Tsar. It was their Tsar. Tsar Nicholas himself.

***

" COULD YOU NOT HAVE WAITED 24 FUCKING HOURS, AT LEAST?"

The Generalissimo screamed at the trembling Markov. Rasputin was dead, but merely two days after he had whispered to the Tsar to relieve Nikolai Maklakov of his duties of Interior Minister, and almost twenty hours after the Generalissimo had ordered his assassination.

"DO YOU NOT KNOW HOW SUSPICOUS THIS MAKES US ALL LOOK?"

Nikolai screamed again at Markov, who was withering away like an old crone at the presence of the furious Generalissimo. Markov came off of his chair and kneeled in front of him, his hands clasped together like how one would when praying to God.

"Please, my dear leader. It was my mistake! Have mercy on me. Please, do not relieve me of my position, I will make it up to you. I will make sure not a single man of communist blood will ever set foot on the soil of Holy Russia! Please, let me redeem myself in front of you!"

The Generalissimo sat down in exasperation. He had slept merely 2 hours in the last two days, and he was amazed by how he could still scream with such vitriol in the midst of his exhaustion. With a long and quiet stare of malice at Markov, he finally opened his mouth.

"We need to secure our power. If the Tsar did not know before, he knows now. He is going to call for our removal tomorrow. I am sure of it. And it will not end there, some of us will be standing trial. They know we will not leave without a fight. Any group that supports our removal will probably be there with him. The aristocracy, for sure. Perhaps even some up-jumps from the military also. Now is no time to sulk."

As the Generalissimo dragged his chair further into the dining table, Markov got off his knees and took his seat next to Purishkevich. Deep down, it wasn't truly the Generalissimo that had sprouted his fear. But he could not admit to that out loud, for the sake of hiding the actual reason for his incompetence. As the Generalissimo started droning on about hidden passages in the Winter Palace, all Markov could ruminate on was the fact that Rasputin was dead before he had even given the order.
 
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I may not have time to write more of these for a while. But I'm thinking that the continued focus on the URP that the Generalissimo has makes the original coup perpetrators of the military feel quite dejected, and the original White Russian squad of Kornilov, Wrangel, Denikin and Kolchak might conspire within the military and try to organize a countercoup against the URP-dominated cabinet. I am open to all suggestions, so feel free to let me know.
This is an interesting view of alt course for post-RJW Russia but Kornilov, Denikin and especially Wrangel were pretty much nobodies prior to WWI: Wrangel was promoted to captain in 1914, Kornilov was promoted to colonel in 1905 and served as military attache in China from 1907 to 1911, Denikin also became a colonel only in 1905, was a regimental commander and promoted to major-general few weeks prior to WWI. Not to mention that they seemingly had different political views and belonged to the noticeably different social groups. Kolchak was promoted to lieutenant commander only after the RJW and was mostly a researcher (Arctic expeditions) and naval designer. His fame also was due to WWI.
 
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