The Russian Provisional Government (Russian: Временное правительство России, tr. Vremennoye pravitel'stvo Rossii) was a provisional government of Russia established immediately following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II of the Russian Empire on 2 March 1917. The intention of the provisional government was the organization of elections to the Russian Constituent Assembly and its convention. The provisional government lasted approximately eight months, and ceased to exist when the Bolsheviks gained power after the October Revolution in October 1917. According to Harold Whitmore Williams the history of eight months during which Russia was ruled by the Provisional Government was the history of the steady and systematic disorganisation of the army.
For most of the life of the Provisional Government, the status of the monarchy was unresolved. This was finally clarified on 1 September , when the Russian Republic was proclaimed, in a decree signed by Kerensky as Minister-President and Zarudny as Minister of Justice.
The Provisional Government was formed in Petrograd by the Provisional Committee of the State Duma and was led first by Prince Georgy Lvov and then by Alexander Kerensky. It replaced the institution of the Council of Ministers of Russia, members of which after the February Revolution presided in the Chief Office of Admiralty. At the same time the Russian Emperor Nicholas II abdicated in favor of the Grand Duke Michael who agreed that he would accept after the decision of Russian Constituent Assembly. The Provisional Government was unable to make decisive policy decisions due to political factionalism and a breakdown of state structures. This weakness left the government open to strong challenges from both the right and the left. The Provisional Government's chief adversary on the left was the Petrograd Soviet, which tentatively cooperated with the government at first, but then gradually gained control of the army, factories, and railways. The period of competition for authority ended in late October 1917, when Bolsheviks routed the ministers of the Provisional Government in the events known as the October Revolution, and placed power in the hands of the soviets, or "workers' councils," which had given their support to the Bolsheviks. The weakness of the Provisional Government is perhaps best reflected in the derisive nickname given to Kerensky: "persuader-in-chief."
The authority of the Tsar's government began disintegrating on 1 November 1916, when Milyukov attacked the Boris Stürmer government in the Duma. Stürmer was succeeded by Alexander Trepov and Nikolai Golitsyn, both Prime Ministers for only a few weeks. During the February Revolution two rival institutions, the Imperial Duma and the Petrograd Soviet, both located in the Tauride Palace, competed for power. Tsar Nicholas II abdicated on 2 March and Milyukov announced the committee's decision to offer the Regency to his brother, Grand Duke Michael as the next tsar. Grand Duke Michael did not want to take the poisoned chalice and deferred acceptance of imperial power the next day. The Provisional Government was designed to set up elections to the Assembly while maintaining essential government services, but its power was effectively limited by the Petrograd Soviet's growing authority.