Political terrorism was an important weapon in the struggle for the socialist-revolutionaries. This harked back to the tradition of the populists (narodniki): revolutionary cells, which during the years 1860-1880 had committed the one terrorist attack after the other on dignitaries and representatives of the tsarist regime, and in 1881 had even managed to kill tsar Alexander II in a bomb attack.
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The Socialist Revolutionaries had founded a separate Combat Organisation for the purpose, led by Grigori Gershuni, with its own apparatus and finances, which operated completely detached from the main party.
In April 1902 the first terrorist attack was launched, against the minister of internal affairs Sipiagin.
In the nine years of its existence (1902-11) the Combat Organisation committed a total of 263 attacks and killed 84 people, among which two ministers, 33 governors and vice-governors, 16 mayors, 7 admirals and generals, and 26 undercover police agents.
In 1908 the organisation was dealt a severe blow.
Its leader, Yevno Azef, turned out to be a double-agent of the tsarist secret police (Okhrana).
He helped stage the attacks, but at the same time betrayed people and prevented some of the attacks from succeeding.
After his disclosure the organisation continued to exist for another three years, but under his successor Boris Savinkov not a single successful terrorist attack was carried out.