December 6 (18), 1876 the Kazan Square in St. Petersburg hosted the first political demonstration in Russia. The demonstration, organized by members of the "Land and Freedom", was attended by about 400 people.
According to Plekhanov (who participated in the demonstration and was a member of the revolutionary organization "Land and Freedom"), "by the end of 1876, when the members of “Land and Freedom” just got started with their propaganda among peasants, propaganda among workers became quite extensive, both in St. Petersburg and its environs. At last our movement has carried away the workers too. At that time everybody had in mind the demonstration, which marked the funeral of a student Chernyshev, who died in prison in the spring of 1876... It made a strong impression on all the intellectuals .... But workers were not involved in Chernyshev demonstration, since it took place on weekdays ... And now the workers wanted to make their own demonstration ... which would completely eclipse of the demonstration of "intellectuals" by its revolutionary nature.
In the morning of 6 (18) December, near Kazan Cathedral gathered students, girl students and a small group of workers. Contrary to initial estimations of the organizers, students appeared in the majority. Since it was St. Nicholas Day, the demonstrators ordered a prayer service at the Cathedral to health of Nicholas, implying Nicholas Gavrilovich Chernyshevsky, who was in exile.
A student of the Mining Institute Georgi Plekhanov addressed the meeting. His speech about the revolutionary heroism of Chernyshevsky the orator completed with a story about the Decembrists, Petrashevsky Circle, as well as Razin and Pugachev. In conclusion, Plekhanov said: "Long live the social revolution, long live the "Land and Freedom!"On the square above the crowd of demonstrators was raised a red flag with the inscription " Land and Freedom ".
The demonstration ended in clashes with police. As a result, over 30 protesters were arrested, five of those arrested were sentenced to long life of hard labor, ten people - to exile in Siberia, and three workers (among them Ya. Potapov, who deployed the first red flag for the Russian workers) were imprisoned in a monastery. Plekhanov, who spoke at the meeting with a revolutionary speech against autocracy and in defense of ideas of Chernyshevsky, managed to avoid the arrest.
Lit.: Емельянов Б.В. Г. В. Плеханов — историк русской философии // Дискурс-Пи. 2006. №1. С. 49-51; Новчук М. Т., Суворов К. И. Плеханов Георгий Валентинович // Большая советская энциклопедия. М., 1975. Т. 20; Первая рабочая демонстрация в России. М.; Л., 1927.
From the Presidential library materials: