The 1905 Revolution
Tsar Nicholas II had a weak personality and a bad habit of not listening to his people - as demonstrated in 1905 when he ordered his Cossacks [Cossacks: Peasants from southern Russia who were renowned for their military skill - they were later employed by the Tsar. ] to open fire on a peaceful demonstration. The events that occurred afterwards in response to the attack became known as the 1905 Revolution.
In 1904, Nicholas lost a war with Japan, which undermined his authority. In 1905, a peaceful demonstration of workers led by the priest Father Gapon was attacked by the Cossacks, in a bid to assert the Tsar's authority. The atrocity led to strikes and riots - sailors on the battleship 'Potemkin' mutinied. Workers and soldiers got together and set up committees called Soviets to represent them.
Nicholas survived - just! He published the 'October Manifesto', which promised to create a Duma (parliament). This caused many middle-class people, called the Octobrists, to support him. He also lowered taxes on the poor and brought in Peter Stolypin as his prime minister. The Okhrana [Okhrana: The Tsar of Russia's security police 1881-1917. ] tracked down and arrested many revolutionaries.
However, as soon as he felt powerful enough, Nicholas stopped listening to the Duma, but the Soviets survived.