The reign of Alexander II was one of the most important phases in the political development of the Russian Empire. In the 1860–70s, a new political space was formed, where it was possible to realize new political actions. The paper raises the issue of how new political movements were perceived and constructed by different actors. The study of revolutionary activity is a guide to this political space. Therefore, investigative materials made during the inquiry of the case of “propaganda in the empire” are used in the paper. This political affair concerned a well-known event, named “going to the people”. The methods of social network analysis are used in the research. This approach makes it possible to study the structure of the political movement through the visualization and analysis of a social network. The constructed model is a whole social network of revolutionary communities in Moscow in the first half of the 1870s. It is drawn from investigative materials and represents the views of the political police on the revolutionary movement. The protest movement in the 1870s was rather a complex intertwining of relationships, ideologies, political orientations, and not a world of united revolutionary groups. The movement was extremely inconvenient for perception. Therefore, the investigative bodies tried to unite this multidimensional political space and to make it accessible to interpretation.
Key words: Russian revolutionary movements, Russian populism, investigative materials, social movements, social network analysis.