It wouldn’t be accurate to say that Rasputin started the Russian Revolution, but he was one of many causes that made it inevitable.
Although the roots of the revolution can be traced back before the 1900’s, the Russian Revolution gained much traction after the entry of Russia into World War I. The army was horribly underprepared and led by poor generals, resulting in as many as a million losses during the first few years alone. This, combined with famine conditions, bad decisions by Czar Nicholas II, and political unrest resulted in what was known as the February Revolution of 1917. This was when the czar officially abdicated the throne, paving the way for the rise of the Bolshevik party and the eventual war that created the Soviet Union.
Rasputin was one of the Czar’s poorest decisions. He was a faith-healer who came to the attention of the royal family when they were looking for a way to heal their sick son, Alexi. He apparently had some success, and was allowed to stay at court where his reputation for psychic feats won him much renown within the court.
However, Rasputin also had a reputation for degenerative behavior. His sexual misdeeds, as well as his possible connection to anti-monarchist groups blackened the reputation of the royal family, calling into question the morality of Nicholas II and his government. There were also accusations that after Nicholas II left for the front to help try and turn the war around, Rasputin exerted his influence over the czarina in a way that allowed him de facto rule of the country. By becoming the czarina’s unofficial advisor, he was able to make political appointments in return for favors.
These rumors of sexual misconduct and misrule were used by the newspaper to significantly weaken the Romanov dynasty’s power, adding more fuel to the fires of revolution that would eventually engulf the country.