1-Agreed. Even if Nicholas's reign survived this poses issues for the future of the monarchy.It's been several years since I last made a thread such as this one and we have acquired some new members since then, so I figured that it's time to make another thread about this topic. Anyway, what would you have done if you were (then-future) Russian Tsar Nicholas II in 1893 and were able to see how real life turned out but not how reality would have unfolded had you made different choices? (I really hope that this topic isn't too close to ASBs for this thread to be locked. My previous thread about this topic several years ago was fine with the moderators here.)
Anyway, here is what I would have done:
1. Not marry Alexandra (Alix of Hesse). I don't need the hemophilia gene to spread to my descendants. Find some other princess to marry instead just as long as she is willing to convert to Russian Orthodoxy and avoid intervening in affairs of state. Maybe marrying some Orleanist princess if she was willing to convert to Orthodoxy?
2. Abolish the anti-Semitic Pale of Settlement. Jews shouldn't be restricted to living in only one part of Russia. The Pale ruins Russia's international reputation and alienates its Jewish population, so I would get rid of it. I would also aggressively crack down on the anti-Jewish pogroms but keep the Jewish quotas due to them being a form of affirmative action in favor of non-Jewish Russians. In the long(er)-run, I would also hope to encourage mass intermarriage between Jews and Russians, but I fear that being open about this desire of mine early in my reign could result in massive anger against me.
3. Immediately give the Ottoman Empire an ultimatum to stop the Hamidian massacres of its Armenian population with the threat of a Russian military intervention against the Ottoman Empire if the Ottoman Empire fails to comply. If war with the Ottomans will break out over this, so be it--just as long as the other Great Powers won't militarily intervene--which they shouldn't if I will make it clear that my territorial ambitions in this war are limited to Ottoman Armenia and Pontus north of it. So, no thrust towards Constantinople--which I don't really want anyway.
4. Avoid war with Japan at all costs. Don't mess with the samurai! Make whatever compromises are necessary to avoid war with Japan.
5. Abandon the rhetoric of Pan-Slavism. I certainly don't want Russia fighting any Balkan wars with little benefit for Russia on behalf of Pan-Slavism. I would be willing to support Balkan expansion against the Ottoman Empire but I would not be willing to fight Germany (Deutschland Uber Alles!) over the fate of the Balkan countries.
6. Keep the Russian alliance with France since I need an ally as well as France loans. However, make it crystal-clear to Germany that Russia has no desire in helping France wage any revanchist wars against it.
7. End the Great Game with Britain. It's simply not worth it.
8. Move the Russian capital south to Rostov-on-Don so that Russia would have a huge city on the Black Sea comparable in population (in the long(er)-run) to Moscow and St. Pete's.
9. Encourage European/white, East Asian, and Hindu immigration to Russia just as long as the newcomers are actually willing to assimilate.
10. Aggressively listen to people such as Sergei Witte who advocated having a large focus on peace and economic development.
11. Later on in my reign (if there's no revolution and execution, I should expect to live to around 1950 or so), focus on promoting suburban development.
12. Create a Duma with universal suffrage (maybe only men initially, and later expanded to women as well) and actually give it a lot of power in regards to domestic policy. Foreign policy, of course, would remain my prerogative until shortly before my death, when I will give the Duma power in regards to this as well. Also, create a literacy test requirement for voting in Duma elections so that illiterate peasants won't be able to vote after being easily swayed by demagogues.
13. Pursue land reform in a competent manner and also promote things such as mass schooling, mass literacy, and large-scale industrialization and economic development throughout all of Russia.
14. Allow freedom of speech and freedom of expression in Russia with the exception of radical subversive ideologies such as Bolshevism. Also, abandon forced Russification programs (such as banning/restricting the Ukrainian language) and instead promote Russification in as many non-Russian parts of Russia as possible through mass Russian settlement into these parts.
15. Pursue good relations with the US, a country that I strongly want to emulate other than for its attitude in regards to race relations.
16. Give Poland and Finland their independence under their own Romanov Tsars in exchange for them agreeing to a permanent military alliance with Russia and France and in exchange for having these Romanovs permanently renounce their own and their descendants' rights of succession to the Russian throne.
Anyway, how does all of this sound?
3-Seeing that the fear the Armenians supporting and supported Russia was the pretext(not saying it was an acceptable pretext but that's why it happened)for the genocide this seems like it would do more harm than good. Also Russia's main goal is Constantinople at this time and both the Russians and Ottomans are well aware they will try to get it at some point. Doesn't make sense to offer a party something you aren't willing to give up.
4-Without knowing the future I doubt he'd have a reason not to(as is the case in many "don't do it you'll lose" tales) but given what we know sure.
5-Thing is Pan Slavism did have Russian benefits as they came at the expense of her two traditional rivals(Ottomans and Hapsburgs) and put Russia in as dominant a position as she'd ever been relative to her neighbours. This doesn't seem relevant by 1914 when the Ottomans are powerless but on paper Pan Slavism worked, if not too well. This would be a no brainer but in 1894 it would seem insane given the Balkan countries had been largely responsible for a period of Russian foreign policy success. That relationships consequences didn't seem apparent at the time only the benefits.
6-This is great. However it's a paradox cause the reason the French wanted the alliance was to use Russia to fight Germany. That being said stringing the French alone for money would have been the best play for Russia's future.
7-I mean he did do this. Wasn't a bad move but don't see the relevance to how it worked against Russia as the Russians and UK ended up on the same side.
8-I see the benefits but this is a massive change and don't think they justify it. Remember the Germans did take the Crimean penninsula while neither St Petersburg nor Moscow fell. While St Petersburg's survived in only the literal sense and the Germans only abandoned the siege because the Eastern front as a whole was lost those two capitals locations were pluses rather than minuses.
9-Today this makes sense but in 1914 Russia's population and expected population was off the charts, almost three times that of the second largest European power.
11-Undecided on this
12-Sounds good. That being said if the elected representatives voted for war the Revolution would have still occurred.
14-Ukraine isn't non Russian though. Only reason Kiev wasn't the capital of Russia and Ukraine became seperate was that Russia didn't have control when it reunified under Muscovy. Russia's entire history was also dictated by that policy(again Muscovy united a bunch of different Russian states that would be considered seperate countries by today's standards hard to argue it hadn't proven to be effective).
15-Makes sense though at this point the US was very isolationist and the long term benefits of a relationship wouldn't be apparent.
16-With Poland the Polish were Catholic and would probably want to overthrow the puppet at some point. That area was also a militarily strageic buffer zone(against not just Germany but Austria). With Finland it could work because the enemy the region buffered against(Sweden) was all but done as a threat. But this tended to be something countries did to expand influence not to exert it over already controlled areas.