General Lavr Kornilov was an influential war hero in 1917 and stood out because of his determination to establish order following the April Crisis. He was liked by most political figures and industrialists. Kornilov was appointed as the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed forces by Kerensky, who saw promise in Kornilov’s plan to restore the army’s fighting capability with discipline and resorting the death penalty. But Kornilov “had broader political ambitions, for he doubted that the coalition had the will either to win the war or to stabilize the domestic front. Regarding the government as a Soviet hostage, he concluded that a true patriot must put an end to dual power” (Freeze 287). He also “held the Petrograd Soviet responsible for the breakdown of discipline in the army. He also came to regard the Provisional Government as lacking the backbone to dissolve the Soviet and therefore unworthy of survival” (Siegelbaum).
Kornilov rounded up his loyal troops and lead a military coup d’etat towards Petrograd in an effort to restore order. He was under the impression he had the support of Kerensky, however, Kerensky had become enraged with Kornilov’s ambitions, and was prepared to launch a coalition against Kornilov’s coup.
Kerensky mobilized the Red Guards, made up of workers and paramilitary units, and quickly arrested Kornilov and disarmed his troops. Kerensky established himself as head of government. But even after Kornilov was arrested, the armed forces he had rounded up managed to keep their moral high, without being disbanded, and posed a serious threat to the government. The chaos that came from this affair caused Kerensky’s support to diminish and expedite the Bolshevik seizure of power.
Russia: A History, Gregory L. Freeze