MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Events

All-Russian Conference of the Soviets


First Conference
June 3-22, 1917

The first conference of soviets was convened by the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet and was held in Petrograd between March 29 and April 3 (April 11 and 16), 1917.

The Petrograd Soviet (then the capital of Russia) organised the conference with the aim to establish the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets. Ten representatives of provincial Soviets and six representatives of military organisations were added to the Petrograd Soviet executive committee in preparations.

The Conference laid out that two deputies were to be chosen from each soviet with 25,000 to 50,000 electors (the people of the local community they were elected by), for every additional 25,000 electors an extra deputy was allowed up to a maximum of eight deputies from a soviet. Soviets with less than 25,000 electors were to combine with other soviets and send joint deputies to the Congress.

The Conference was attended by some 600 people, with no less than 120 towns with 138 soviets represented and 47 military committees. Each group was allotted two delegates: one for its workers and one for its soldiers. The Conference discussed the questions of the war, the attitude towards the Provisional Government, the Constituent Assembly, the agrarian, food and other questions.


Third Congress
January 10-18, 1918

The Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies was held in Petrograd from January 10 to 18(23 to 31), 1918. It was attended by delegates from 317 Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies and 410 army, corps and divisional committees. At the opening were 707 delegates, 441 of them Bolsheviks. On January 13 (26), it was joined by the delegates to the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies. Together with late arrivals there was a total of 1,587 delegates at the final sitting.

The Presidium of the Congress consisted of 10 Bolsheviks, 3 Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and 1 delegate from each of other groups (Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, etc.).

Greetings were conveyed by delegates from the Swiss, Rumanian, Swedish and Norwegian Social-Democratic parties, the British Socialist Party and the labour socialists of America.

The Congress discussed Sverdlov’s report on the activity of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. Lenin reported to the Congress on the activity of the Council of People’s Commissars. In the debates, the Mensheviks, Right Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Menshevik internationalists opposed the domestic and foreign policy of Soviet power. Their attitudes were criticised by Lenin in a summing-up speech. The Congress approved Lenin’s “Declaration of Rights of the Working and Exploited People”. which later became the basis of the Soviet Constitution. A Congress resolution gave full approval to the policy of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars and gave them a vote of confidence.

The Congress also approved the government’s policy on peace and conferred on it the broadest powers in this matter.

The Congress heard a report by Stalin, People’s Commissar for Nationalities, on the principles of federation and the policy of Soviet power on the question of nationalities and adopted a resolution constituting the Russian Socialist Republic as a federation of Soviet Republics, on the basis of a free union of the peoples of Russia. The Congress approved the Government’s policy on the question of nationalities.

The arrival of the delegates to the Third All-Russia Peasants’ Congress was a notable event: the Congress continued its deliberations as a joint Congress of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.

The Congress approved tine basic provisions of the law on the socialisation of land worked out on the has is of the Decree on Land.

It elected an All-Russia Central Executive Committee Consisting of 160 Bolsheviks, 125 Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, 2 Social-Democratic internationalists, 3 anarchist-Communists, 7 Socialist-Revolutionary Maximalists, 7 Right Socialist-Revolutionaries and 2 Menisheviks.

In a summing-up speech. Lenin said that the Congress “has opened a new epoch in world History” and by establishing the organisation of a new state power created by the October Revolution “has projected the lines of future socialist construction for the whole world, for the working people of all countries”