Narodnaya Volya [People's Will]
Assassination of Alexander II
In 1869, two Russian writers, Mikhail Bakunin and Sergi Nechayev published the book Catechism of a Revolutionist. It included the famous passage: “The Revolutionist is a doomed man. He has no private interests, no affairs, sentiments, ties, property nor even a name of his own. His entire being is devoured by one purpose, one thought, one passion - the revolution. Heart and soul, not merely by word but by deed, he has severed every link with the social order and with the entire civilized world; with the laws, good manners, conventions, and morality of that world. He is its merciless enemy and continues to inhabit it with only one purpose - to destroy it.”
The book had a great impact on young Russians and in 1876 the group Land and Liberty was formed. In October, 1879, the Land and Liberty split into two factions. The majority of members, who favoured a policy of terrorism, established the People’s Will (Narodnaya Volya). Others, such as George Plekhanov formed Black Repartition, a group that rejected terrorism and supported a socialist propaganda campaign among workers and peasants. Elizabeth Kovalskaia was one of those who rejected the ideas of the People’s Will: “Firmly convinced that only the people themselves could carry out a socialist revolution and that terror directed at the centre of the state (such as the People’s Will advocated) would bring - at best - only a wishy-washy constitution which would in turn strengthen the Russian bourgeoisie, I joined Black Repartition, which had retained the old Land and Liberty program.”
Narodnaya Volya tried to kill Alexander II more than once. First, they tried to blow up Tsars train with nitroglycerin, however, something went wrong and another train was blown up. Second, they tried to kill Alexander at the time of dinner, but by a lucky chance, Tsar wasn’t there, however, 6 other people were killed.
Vera Figner led the group of assasins who planned another attack on Alexander II. Evene after several group members were arrested, Vera stick to the plan and wisely projected how Tsar will change his rout on the unlucky Sunday. Attack happened on 1st of March 1881. , Ignatei Grinevitski successful throw his bomb on Tasar and killed him.
After this act wide range of arrests came. Despite this repression, there were attempts by the People’s Will to kill Tsar Alexander III.
Vera Figner was the one remaining leader of the People’s Will who initially escaped capture.
Narodnaya Volya’s activity became one of the most important elements of the revolutionary situation in the late 1879–1880. However, ineffective tactics of political conspiracy and preference for terrorism over other means of struggle failed. At the turn of the century, however, as increasing numbers of former members of Narodnaya Volya were released from prison and exile, these veteran revolutionaries helped to form the Socialist Revolutionary Party, which revived many of the goals and methods of the former narodniki, including peasant revolution and terror.