Nicholas II, 1868-1918 (r.1894-1917), was the son of Alexander Iii. As a youth he received little training in affairs of state. His reign continued the suppression of political opposition and persecution of minorities. Revolutionary groups proliferated, while liberals demanded constitutional government. An aggressive policy in E Asia led to defeat in the Russo-japanese War (1904-5). In Jan. 1905 a peaceful crowd of petitioners was fired upon in front of the Winter Palace; this "bloody Sunday"
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after it began to sit, and Witte was replaced as premier by Stolypin in 1906. World War I began in 1914; in 1915 Nicholas took command of the army, leaving Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna and her adviser, Rasputin, in control of the government. Discontent spread, the army tired of war, food shortages worsened, the government tottered, and in March 1917 Nicholas was forced to abdicate (see Russian Revolution). He and his family were shot in Yekaterinburg on July 16, 1918.