December 1, 1917 – Bolsheviks Murder Russian Commander-in-Chief Dukhonin as Russian Empire Breaks Up
Pictured – Krylenko, who replaced the butchered Dukhonin as commander in chief of what was now the Red Army.
After refusing orders from Lenin to begin peace talks with the Central Powers, Russian army commander Nikolai Dukhonin stepped down on December 1, 1917, after Red Army troops seized his headwaters in Mogilev and forced his resignation. It was not a peaceful event, as the 44-year old general was dragged from his train to safety, beaten savagely, and bayoneted to death. The Bolshevik troops who killed him then used his body for target practice.
NIkolai Krylenko took Dukhonin’s place in Mogiliev as the leader of Russia’s armed forces. But which troops could the Red Army command? A 92,000 force of Czech and Slovak POWs who had agreed to join the Russian army were now in negotiations with France and Britain to join the Allies on the Western Front. Thomas Masyrk, a Czech nationalist leader, had decided to move the Czechs to Vladivostok where they could then head to France, leaving Russia and its new leaders in the lurch.
Meanwhile, on the frontiers of the Russian empire, those opposed to the Bolsheviks on every side of the political spectrum consolidated their strength. On December 1, a business-minded separatist Siberian government declared its Independence in Omsk. In Ukraine, a left-leaning independence government declared a republic. Russia was now in the hands of many different groups.