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Word Count: 994
Tsar Alexander II who succeeded Nicholas I in 1855 was a conservative who saw no alternative but to implement change Alexander initiated substantial reforms in education the government the judiciary and the military In 1861 he proclaimed the emancipation of about 20 million privately held serfs Local commissions which were dominated by landlords effected emancipation by giving land and limited freedom to the serfs The former serfs usually remained in the village commune but they were required to make redemption payments to the government over a period of almost fifty years The government compensated former owners of serfs by issuing them bonds The regime had envisioned that the 50000 landlords who possessed estates of more than 110 hectares would thrive without serfs and would continue to provide loyal political and administrative leadership in the countryside The government also had expected that peasants would produce sufficient crops for their own consumption and for export sales thereby helping to finance most of the governments expenses imports and foreign debt Neither of the governments expectations was realistic however and emancipation left both former serfs and their former owners dissatisfied The new peasants soon fell behind in their payments to the government because the land they had received was poor and because Russian agricultural methods were inadequate The former owners often had to sell their lands to remain solvent because most of them could neither farm nor manage estates without their former serfs In addition the value of their government bonds fell as the peasants failed to make their redemption payments Reforms of local government closely followed emancipation In 1864 most local government in the European part of Russia was organized into provincial and district zemstva sing zemstvo which were made up of representatives of all classes and were responsible for local schools public health roads prisons food supply and other concerns In 1870 elected city councils or dumy sing duma were formed Dominated by property owners and
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