To Kill a Tsar

To Kill a Tsar Author : Andrew Williams
Country : Russia

The tsar is dead but where is your revolution? That is not the will of the people at all. They want change, yes, but not violence. (Williams 2010: 394)

Dr Frederick Hadfield is a successful British doctor working for the Anglo-Russian gentry in St Petersburg. He has a comfortable, placid life until he meets and falls in love with Anna Kovalenco, who is active in the terrorist group Narodnaya Volya, The People’s Will, plotting an attempt to kill Tsar Alexander II. The novel is based on real events and covers the years that go from 2nd April 1879 to 1st November 1882, just before and after the regicide took place on 1st March 1881. Though the demands of Narodnaya Volya are legitimate if we take into account the oppression and poverty in which the people of Russia lived at that time (they believe in democracy and freedom of opinion and want to establish a national assembly chosen by the people), the terrorists are presented as elitist fanatics intent on bloodshed and disconnected from the actual will of the people they claim to represent. Also, the regicide does not have the desired effects as most of the terrorists are captured and executed or go into exile and the new Tsar replaces the secret police, the Third Section, for the even more oppressive Okhrana: “Same task, new name … New methods. This is a battle for the soul of Russia … [a]nd in such a battle the Okhrana will use all the weapons at its disposal. … It will be more robust, the ends will justify the means” (Williams 2010: 410-411).

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