In March of 1917 (February in the calendar the Russians used at the time), most Russian workers were on strike for higher food rations. When the troops were ordered by Czar Nicholas II to suppress them, many refused, spreading insubordination and mutiny in the military. Nicholas, growing frustrated with the situation, attempted to disband the Duma. The members of the Duma refused, and the Petrogradinsurgents seized the capital.

Nicholas was forced to abdicate at Pskov (March 15th), after the Duma had established a provisional government, composed mainly of moderates and led by Prince Lvov, and later Aleksandr Kerensky. This government had little popular support, and was limited in its power, as the Petrograd workers and soldiers soviet still controlled the troops and communications in the capital. The provisional government, however, maintained Russia's highly unpopular involvement in World War I, which left them ripe for takeover by radicals in the ensuing "October Revolution" in the fall of 1917.