Bloody Sunday (Russian: Крова́вое воскресе́нье; IPA: [krɐˈvavəjə vəskrʲɪˈsʲenʲjə]) was the name that came to be given to the events of 22 January [O.S. 9 January] 1905 in St Petersburg, Russia, where unarmed, peaceful demonstrators marching to present a petition to the Tsar Nicholas II were fired upon by soldiers of the Imperial Guard when approaching the city center and the Winter Palace from several gathering points. The shooting did not occur in the Palace Square. Bloody Sunday was an event with grave consequences for the Tsarist regime, as the disregard for ordinary people shown by the reaction of the authorities undermined support for the state. The events which occurred on this Sunday have been assessed by historians, including Lionel Kochan in his book Russia in Revolution 1890-1918, to be one of the key events which led to the Russian Revolution of 1917.
On the Sunday, January 22, striking workers and their families gathered at six points in the city of St Petersburg in Russia. They were organised and led by Russian Orthodox priest Georgy Gapon. Holding religious icons and singing hymns and patriotic songs (particularly "God Save the Tsar!"), a crowd of "more than 3,000" proceeded without police interference towards the Winter Palace, the Tsar's official residence. The crowd did not know that the Tsar was not in residence. The army pickets near the palace released warning shots, and then fired directly into the crowds to disperse them. Gapon was fired upon near the Narva Gate. Around forty people surrounding him were killed, however he was not injured. Although the Tsar was not at the Winter Palace or even in the city and did not give the order for the troops to fire, he received the blame for the deaths, resulting in a surge of bitterness towards himself and his autocratic rule from the Russian people.
The number killed is uncertain but the Tsar's officials recorded 96 dead and 333 injured; anti-government sources claimed more than 4,000 dead; moderate estimates still average around 1,000 killed or wounded, both from shots and trampled during the panic. Another source noted that the official estimate was 130 persons killed. Nicholas II described the day as "painful and sad". As reports spread across the city, disorder and looting broke out. Gapon's Assembly was closed down that day, and Gapon quickly left Russia. According to one version,[which?] returning in October, he was assassinated by the order of the Combat Organization of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party after he revealed to his friend Pinhas Rutenberg that he was working for the Okhrana or Secret Police.
This event was seen by the British ambassador to inflame revolutionary activities in Russia and contributed to the Revolution of 1905. The writer Leo Tolstoy was also emotionally affected by the incident.
See also 
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- Gapon, Address to the Tsar, February 1905, in Ascher, The Revolution of 1915, Vol. 1
- Ascher, Abraham. The Revolution of 1905. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford UP, 1988. p. 91. Print
- Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, A History of Russia, 4th edition, Oxford University Press, 1984, ISBN 0-19-503361-2
- Kurth, Peter. Tsar: the Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra. Boston: Back Bay, 1998. p. 81
- Notes on Georgii Appolonovich Gapon (1870-1906), Northern Virginia Community College
- Rolland, Romain (1911). Life of Tolstoy. London: T. Fisher Unwin. p. 212.