As the country enters the centenary of the tumultuous year that ended tsarism and ushered in the 70-year communist experiment, President Vladimir Putinfaces the dilemma of how to commemorate the events that had such a huge effect on Russia and the world.
“There is no officially approved narrative of 1917; it’s too difficult and complicated,” said Mikhail Zygar, the journalist who is running the reconstruction project. “But it’s a very important period to help understand what’s happening in Russia now, and very important for the national consciousness.”
The year featured two revolutions: the February revolution (actually in March, according to the modern calendar) deposed Tsar Nicholas II after more than 300 years of rule by the Romanov dynasty, ushering in a brief period in which hopes for a democratic future flourished. Lenin’s Bolsheviks, a small, marginal faction of fanatics who were not taken seriously in the aftermath of the February uprising, took control in the October revolution (actually in November).