Russian Court Orders Reopening of Tsar’s Family Murders
A Moscow court has ordered a continuation of the investigation into the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. This despite the last Russian imperial family were killed by Bolsheviks 92 years ago.
The Russian prosecutor general’s main investigative unit said it had formally closed a criminal investigation into the killing of Nicholas II earlier this year because the Bolsheviks who shot the family are long dead.
But Moscow’s Basmanny Court on Thursday ordered the case reopened, saying a Supreme Court ruling blaming the state for the killings made the deaths of the actual gunmen irrelevant, a lawyer for the tsar’s descendants and local news agencies said.
“This is an important step in our quest for the truth,” said German Lukyanov, the lawyer representing Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, a descendant of the Romanov dynasty who is a claimant to the throne.
“The Russian people have the right to know what happened.”
A spokesperson for the prosecutor general’s office did not comment on whether it would contest the ruling.
Although the murders were ordered by Vladimir Lenin, it was the revolutionary firing squad who carried out the act a few hours after midnight on July 17, 1918 in Ekaterinburg. The Tsar, his wife and five children, plus four servants were the victims of the shootings.
The remains of the nine of the eleven victims were exhumed in 1991, and were buried in 1998. Recently, two more skeletons – those of one of the daughters and the the Tsar’s son – were discovered several yards from the burial site. Those remains have yet to be buried.
Romanov Grand Duchess Dies
Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, the widow and mother of the claimants to the Russian throne, died Monday in a hospital in Madrid. She was 95 years old.
Yury Kryuchkov/RIA Novosti/FILE
The Grand Duchess was born in 1914 in Tblisi, Georgia. Her family was the House of Mukhrani, a branch of the Bagrationi dynasty which ruled Georgia during the middle ages.
She married Sumner Moore Kirby in 1934 and had a daughter named Helen. Leonida later then married Grand Duke Vladimir Cyrillovich Romanov, who was the pretender to the throne until his death. Together, they had a daughter, Grand Duchess Maria, who today claims the throne.
When Grand Duke Vladimir, who was the great-grandson of Tsar Alexander II, died in 1992, he was buried in St. Petersburg at the Peter and Paul Fortress, which is also the resting place of many of the Romanov Tsars. According to Alexander Zakatov, the director of the Romanov dynasty’s office, Leonida requested that she be buried next to her husband.
The Grand Duchess was the last member of Russia’s former imperial family to be born before the 1917 Russian Revolution. Many of the high ranking Romanovs, including Tsar Nicholas II and his family, were murdered by Bolsheviks.
Today, with the exception of Grand Duchess Maria and her 29 year-old son, Giorgi, all other Romanov descendants lay no claim to the throne and do not seek to restore the monarchy.
Sources: AFP, RIA Novosti
“Tsar Marathon” Blasted by Romanov Descendants
The Yekaterinburg Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church has allowed a marathon to take place at the locations connected to the murder and burial of the last Tsar and his family.
The 21 kilometer marathon will begin at the Church of the Blood, built on the site where Nicolas II and his family were executed by Bolsheviks in 1918, and the monastery at the Ganina Yama birch forest, where their remains were uncovered in 1991. This decision has the descendants of the Russian imperial family up in arms.
“It is incomprehensible,” German Lukyanov, a spokesman for Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, the disputed head of the Romanov family, told Russian media. “They (the organisers) are going to have to explain this. Sport and a graveyard are incompatible concepts. The place where the Tsar’s family died is a sacred place. To organise sporting events there is, putting it mildly, strange.”
But the Russian Church defends its decision. “Yes we need to mourn what went on here but this should not be done eternally,” a spokeswoman said.
“Anyway, the Tsar’s family and Nicholas II enjoyed sport. We should not forget that Russia sent its first team to the Olympics during his rule.”
Sources: The Moscow Times, The Daily Telegraph
Romanov Descendants Say Its “Not the Time” to Bury Children
Members of the former Imperial dynasty of Russia say the country has more important issues than burying the remaining children of slain Tsar Nicholas II.
Earlier this year, scientists declared that the bones of Grand Duchess Maria and Tsarevich Alexei were authentic. But those remains have yet to join the other Romanovs in the crypt at Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg.
The bones were found in 2007, several yards away from where the rest of the family, along with four retainers, were discovered in 1991.
“Today is perhaps not the time when money can be spared for a fitting reburial ceremony,” said Ivan Artzishevski, the spokesman of the Romanov Family Association.
“Russia has more pressing and important issues to face and there are more appropriate ways of spending the money today. The question of the reburial is currently discussed within the Family and with the Russian Government.”
Artzishevski went on to say that the Romanovs believe the DNA tests on the remains prove right that they are of Maria and Alexei.
The two children were murdered with their father, mother, and three other sisters, plus four servants, on the night of July 17, 1918 by Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg. It is believed the Bolsheviks meant to burn the bodies, but only had enough fuel for two, and those were of 19 year-old Maria, and Alexei, nearly 14.
The announcement of the Romanov’s take on what to do with the bones come as a couple of members of the dynasty have completed tours of the former Russian Empire. On July 19th, 83 year-old Prince Dmitri Romanov visited Fyodor’s Imperial Cathedral in St. Petersburg, the former capital of Russia. He was accompanied by his wife, Feodora, and 24 year-old nephew, Rostislav. Prince Dmitri is the brother of the current head of the Romanov family, Prince Nicholas.
Over in Belarus, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, visited several cities in towns there as though she were an actual royal doing an official visit. Even strict protocol was done, such as bowing or curstying to Maria, plus shaking and kissing her hand.
The Grand Duchess is the only Romanov descendent who is claiming the Russian throne. All the others have called off any idea of restoring the monarchy.
DNA Results Prove Romanov Children’s Deaths
The story of one of Tsar Nicholas II’s children surviving the massacre of July 1918 has been a romantic legend for many for nearly a century. Especially since two skeletons were missing from the grave of the last Russian Tsar and his family.
But then, in 2007, it was announced another grave was found not too far from the Romanov grave site in the forests of Ekaterinburg. This grave contained two more skeletons – one of a girl in her late teens, another of a boy in his early teens.
Could these remains be that of the long lost Grand Duchess Maria and Tsarevich Alexei?
The answer is: yes, they are. And DNA reports released today have proven it.
“There is absolutely no doubt that these are the remains of the Romanov family,” said Peter Sarandinaki, founder of the Scientific Expedition to Account for the Romanov Children, which has been seeking the remains of the family.
“I think it is very compelling evidence that this family has been reunited finally,” said geneticist Terry Melton of Mitotyping Technologies in State College, Pa., an expert in forensic DNA.
The remains of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, their three daugthers Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia, plus four servants were buried at the Cathedral of St Paul in St Petersburg in 1998 – 80 years to the day they were all murdered by Bolsheviks.
Because two bodies were missing from the grave, stories and fantasies of the Romanov children went on. There are still people to this day saying they are or are descendants of the Romanov children.
But those stories can go on no more.
“This closes the book on this particular chapter of the Romanov history,” said forensic anthropologist Susan Myster of Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn.
“There are still people who are going to want to believe that there were survivors,” geneticist Anthony Falsetti of the University of Florida said. “And God bless them, but I am confident that the royal family has been found, they have been identified and there was no escape, no princess,”
Russia Rehabilitates Last Czar’s Image
Russia’s Supreme Court ordered the country’s last czar, Nicholas II, to be seen as a victim of Soviet repression, and was killed unlawfully, 90 years after the czar and his family were executed.
The ruling comes as a victory to monarchists and descendants of the Romanov dynasty. It also symbolizes the changes Russia is going through, as it embraces its czarist past and condemns Soviet rule.
“This is first and foremost a symbolic decision,” Alexander Zakatov, head of the chancellery of Russia’s self-styled Imperial House, told Reuters.
“It was very important for our society that the crime committed 90 years ago was condemned, and that unfair accusations against the Tsar and members of his family, that they were enemies of the people … should be removed.”
“We have achieved victory,” said Zakatov. “The law has been carried out and now we can draw a line under this with great satisfaction and happiness.”
Czar Nicholas II was called “Bloody Nicholas” during the years after his death. He was blamed for thousands of murders, famines and immense poverty in Russia during the early years of the 20th century.
When he abdicated the throne in 1917, his wife and five children were sent into exile in Siberia. In July 1918, they were all shot to death by Bolsheviks. Their bodies were buried in the Siberian forest, and were discovered in July 1991, just before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The family’s remains, with the exception of Maria and Alexei, were buried in St Petersburg in 1998. Maria’s and Alexei’s remains were recently discovered, and DNA tests proved their authenticity.
Nicholas and his family were canonized as saints by the Russian Orthodox church in 2000.
This past July, thousands of Russians took part in events to mark the 90th anniversary of the family’s execution, and calls for the restoration of the monarchy can be heard despite today’s Kremlin-managed political landscape.
It is still unclear why the Russian government took so long to rehabilitate the czar. The Supreme Court originally rejected rehabilitating the czar’s image back in November of last year.
However, past decisions — including the earlier rehabilitation of those responsible for organizing the family’s execution — are less important than what comes next, said Edvard Radzinsky, a Russian historian and the author of “The Last Tsar: The Life and Death of Nicholas II.”
“We have two graves that symbolize the revolution: the dirty hole into which the Romanovs were thrown, and the mausoleum of the one who ordered this,” he said, referring to the red pyramid on Red Square that houses Lenin’s preserved body.
“The closing of the first grave,” he said, “should lead to the closing of the second.”