Provincial commissar

​The highest representative of the Russian government in Estonia during the months after the February Revolution (1917)

The Russian Provisional Government formed as a result of the 1917 February Revolution replaced all existing governors with provincial commissars. The mayor of Tallinn, Jaan Poska, was appointed the Estonian commissar on 6 March 1917 and stayed in that position until they were abolished. The 30 March decree of the Provisional Government joined all Estonian territories into one national province and the commissar’s authorities also extended to south-Estonia.

The provincial commissar became a link between the Russian central government and Estonia, which was moving towards extensive autonomy. Various conflicts between the Russian officials, left-wing politicians and young Estonian national radicals emerged. Maintaining a neutral position and relying on a strictly legal foundation, Jaan Poska greatly contributed to Estonia’s democratisation and realisation of national aims. The position of the provincial commissar was abolished by the Bolsheviks after the October Revolution in autumn 1917.

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