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Saturday, 1 August 2015
What's New @ Royal Russia
Topic: Royal Russia

© Royal Russia. 01 August, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:39 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 1 August 2015 5:45 AM EDT
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Friday, 31 July 2015
Historic Eparchial House in Moscow Opens After Decade Long Restoration
Topic: Russian Church

The Eparchial (Diocesan) House is situated on Likhov Lane in Moscow
On July 26, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia visited the newly restored Eparchial (Diocesan) House in Moscow. The restoration of the historic compound was carried out as part of the Presidential program of celebrations devoted to the millennium of the demise of the Holy Prince Vladimir.

His Holiness celebrated the Great Consecration of the Chapel of the Holy Prince Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles at the Moscow Eparchial House, followed by a Divine Liturgy at the newly consecrated church. He also consecrated the lower church dedicated to St Tikhon and the Canonized Fathers of the 1917-1919 All-Russia Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The following day, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Chapel of the Holy Prince Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles at the Moscow Diocesan House. He was greeted by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin, Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky, Plenipotentiary Presidential Envoy in the Central Federal District Alexander Beglov, and Rector of the St Tikhon Humanitarian University Archpriest Vladimir Vorobyev.

President Vladimir Putin said that the building is very important for Russia’s culture and history, and went on to say that the restoration of this historical building is equally important. “It reflects the fact that we remember not only our victories, but also our mistakes”, — he explained. “We learn from our mistakes”, — added the president.

Putin also thanked Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kyrill for all he has done to help restore the Eparchial House. He then presented His Holiness with an icon of the Mother of God from the late 19th century. In turn, Patriarch Kirill presented the Russian president with an icon of St Vladimir.

Construction of the Eparchial House began in 1901 with the blessing of the Holy Martyr Vladimir (Epiphany), the Metropolitan of Moscow. The consecration of the house took place on November 5, 1902, and on December 30 the church was consecrated in the name of Prince Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles.

After the 1917 October revolution, the Church Council of the Russian Orthodox Church used the House for meetings. The Council restored the title of Patriarch and chose Tikhon as the next head of the Church. During the Russian Civil War Patriarch Tikhon was widely seen as anti-Bolshevik, and many members of the Orthodox clergy were jailed or executed by the new regime. 

On September 20, 1918 the work of the Local Council was forcibly interrupted, and on June 15, 1922 the Eparchial House was permanently closed. The Bolsheviks subsequently looted the buildings museum collections, and libraries, then destroyed the furniture. In April 1930, the former Eparchial House served as the Central Documentary Film Studio. Numerous reconstructions during the Soviet years resulted in the building losing its historic appearance, including the destruction of the bell tower and dome of the Vladimir Church.

The Eparchial House was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 2004. Its reconstruction and restoration lasted 10 years. By the summer of 2014, work was completed on the preparation of the upper walls of the church. On December 17, 2014 the consecration and lifting of the cross and the bell tower dome of the Church of St. Vladimir was carried out.

The Eparchial House is a designated cultural heritage site, and protected under laws of the Russian Federation, it is located in Likhov Lane in Moscow. The historic building will now be home to the Orthodox St. Tikhon University of the Humanities.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 31 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:31 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 31 July 2015 10:22 AM EDT
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400 Years of the House of Romanov: The Latest Chef d'oeuvre by Jeweller Ananov
Topic: Jewels

400 Years of the House of Romanov Easter Egg
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the July 31st, 2015 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. RBTH own the copyright of the text and photographs presented below. 
In early August, the Historical Museum in Moscow will open an exhibition by famous contemporary jeweler Andrei Ananov, dedicated to his 70th anniversary, entitled “Returning What’s Lost...”

Click on the link below to view a dozen beautiful photographs:

400 Years of the House of Romanov:The Latest Chef d'oeuvre by Jeweller Ananov  

© Russia Beyond the Headlines. 31 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:59 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 31 July 2015 8:06 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Presidential Library Receives Declassified Documents on Rasputin's Surveillance
Topic: Rasputin

Note: this article has been modified and updated by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
The Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg have received a unique collection of documents from the Tobolsk State Archives. The 239 declassified documents dating 1914-1916 show the disorder in the Secret Service and other departments of the intelligence service of the time. The documents also contain valuable information of the secret surveillance of Rasputin, which began in 1915. The materials reflect a dramatic financial condition and a poor administration of the police, despite the fact that Rasputin, by contrast, felt confident and had sufficient means.

Most of the documents until recently were classified as "secret," "top secret," "personal," etc. Letters are in handwritten and printed form, some with pencil and ink marks.

"Correspondence with the Police Department, the Tobolsk provincial gendarmerie, district police officers about the organization of agent service" shows that in the difficult time of the World War I secret agents were dismissed due to the under funding, their salaries were reduced, they were offered to serve on a temporary basis. Confirmation of these facts we find in the presented documents. For example, a letter from the head of Tobolsk provincial gendarmerie Vladimir Dobrodeev addressed to his assistant in the Tyumen and other counties, captain Kalmykov of March 7, 1915: "For the salary of secret agents... we are given only 200 rubles per month... In addition, the Police Department offers to spend money with proper frugality, avoiding cost overruns." The answer of captain Kalmikov was immediate: "Of all the agents in my service I find it necessary to keep the "Skilled" and the "Fast" in Tyumen and the "Soldier" in Turinsk. As to the others, they can be either dismissed or demoted."

The correspondence also touched upon the reduction of agents’ salaries: "...reduce the salary of everyone, as much as you acknowledge it possible. When declaring them all of it do not inform them about the real reason for their dismissal or reduction of their salaries, as otherwise, out of selfish motives, they may give you a fictional information, which in no case can be tolerated."

After that the chief Dobrodeev raises the question not only of the value of staff, but also of the reliability of the agents as a whole: "Are your agents reliable? Instruct them to observe complete secrecy, keeping in mind that in some critical cases it is better to step away in a timely manner in order not to prang both the agents and the whole operation..."

In the summer of 1915, by order of the Minister of Internal Affairs of the suite of His Majesty, Major-General Vladimir Dzhunkovsky, there was established secret surveillance of Grigori Rasputin. Under the guise of guards two secret agents were assigned to him, who regularly reported to St. Petersburg Police Department about all travels, visits, and also provided the complete information about the visitors to Rasputin.

The correspondence makes it clear that the secret service was not up to surveillance of Grigori Rasputin, so they repeatedly suffered failures in their work. For example, the head of Tobolsk provincial gendarmerie writes to captain Kalmykov: "We need to find out, for what purpose Rudolf Berg came to Rasputin from Perm." Then he received a response from the agents: "Since Rudolf Berg had stayed only a few hours, it was not possible to find out or what purpose he came to Pokrovskoe to see Rasputin." The next episode is related to the failure of the agents to provide information.

August 25, 1915 Vladimir Dobrodeev writes to captain Kalmykov: "You have been ordered to monitor all activities of Grigory Rasputin and to inform me of everything... I did not receive any report about the outrages that Rasputin had made on the steamer called "Tovar-par." Yet, according to the chief of the province the actual state councilor Stankevich, whom I talked to today, the Tyumen county district police officer had carried out an investigation of this case." The agents reported: "On the boat Rasputin was drunk heavily, behaved outrageously and offered some books, but I did not pay attention to the content..."

Heads of the secret service feared of getting imaginary or incorrect information from their agents, whereby there were extraordinary occurrences. For example, the head of Tobolsk provincial gendarmerie was angered by the obscurity of one of the telegrams received from the agents. It did not indicate the date of Rasputin’s departure for Petrograd. The chief wrote a threatening letter: "From this I conclude that the sergeant Ivan Ivanov, who has been serving as a sergeant for ten years, fulfills his official duties not carefully enough...

Such negligence caused unnecessary correspondence, the report was somewhat late, almost daily, and quite involuntarily 2 rubles 42 kopecks were spent for sending unnecessary telegrams...., causing damage to the treasury." But it soon became clear that the order to collect a penalty and make a reprimand to sergeant Ivanov was unfair, he was innocent of what had happened: the figure was mistakenly omitted by a functionary on duty of the Tobolsk postal and telegraph office, while copying a telegram from the tape. Then the chief of the Tobolsk provincial gendarmerie recognized the injunction as invalidated, and ordered to inform the chief of the office "Dear G. Yerofeyev" about it "in a cautious manner."

While the police investigated the case of the figure missing from a cryptogram and spent breech time for conversation, fighting for a questionable economy, Rasputin traveled by steamers, and finally went away by train in a 1st Class wagon to St. Petersburg.

At the same time it appears that the decrease in salary, reduction of staff, checking the usefulness of the information provided due to mistrust, search for various "clues" to fight with Grigory Rasputin in the background of the events of World War I led to a serious failure. July 22, 1915 it became known of an important and serious neglect of the secret service: "In the kerosene depots in Tyumen on the Tura River there is a wireless telegraph, by which the local Germans and the prisoners spread the information from the theater of war through Saratov," that "the company Br. Nobel replaced the Russian, who served there before by the Germans, that the spread of telegrams is done by a German newspaperman."

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 28 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:42 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 29 July 2015 10:01 AM EDT
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Monday, 27 July 2015
Alexei: Russia's Last Imperial Heir, A Chronicle of Tragedy
Topic: Tsarevich Alexis

Alexei: Russia’s Last Imperial Heir, A Chronicle of Tragedy
Revised Publication Date is late August 2015
Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolayevich, is the subject of Margarita Nelipa's newest book, to be published by Gilbert's Books in August 2015. Alexei: Russia’s Last Imperial Heir, A Chronicle of Tragedy is the first comprehensive biography in English about Emperor Nikolai II’s only son, and Russia’s last imperial heir who was born during wartime and died during Russia’s revolutionary upheaval. She examines all the interconnecting political and social issues that prevailed during the Tsesarevich’s lifetime. 
From the first day of his birth to his last hour, Alexei’s medical crises weave throughout the book. The inherited ailment affected his behavior and influenced the education he received. Using medical data, Nelipa exposes the truth about Rasputin’s telegrams that purportedly alleviated Alexei’s near fatal condition in Spala in 1912. Despite his hemophilia, Nelipa discovered that Alexei, like all Romanov males, did have a planned military career and yet the malady swayed Nikolai II to also abdicate on his son’s behalf.
During his lifetime, Alexei participated in several momentous national events, including the centenary of the Battle at Borodino in 1912 and the Romanov Tercentenary in 1913. Accompanying his father, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, Alexei witnessed several theaters of war during 1915-16. Though he, like his sisters did not witness the revolutionary conflict on the streets of Petrograd or Tsarskoe Selo, he did suffer the consequences of his father’s downfall – firstly as a prisoner of the Provisional Government and after that, by the Leninist Regime. Supported by documentary evidence, Nelipa explains why the Provisional Government forced the imperial family into exile. Nowhere else can one read the full harrowing account of the imperial family’s life in Siberia that began with their detention in Tobolsk. It is impossible not to develop compassion for Alexei, who towards the end of his short life, unable to walk, died in a cellar because of who he was. The story of the family’s exile reveals a close loving family who focused on Alexei’s well-being despite the hardships imposed on all of them by the revolutionary forces. 
Nelipa once again relies on Russian primary sources which include diaries, letters, wartime and official government and military documents as well as memoirs and newspapers of the day besides Alexei’s own set of letters and diary all translated by the author. Extensive annotations, several appendices and illustrations add strength to this work. A year-by-year portrait study also offers a fresh dimension to this biography of Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolayevich – Russia’s last imperial heir.
Margarita Nelipa is a historian of Russian heritage with medical and legal training. Her previous books, Alexander III: His Life and Reign (2014) and The Murder of Grigorii Rasputin, A Conspiracy that Brought Down the Russian Empire (2010), are also published by Gilbert's Books, the publishing division of Royal Russia. She is also resident writer for the bi-annual publication, Royal Russia: A Celebration of the Romanov Dynasty and Imperial Russia.
NOTE: This article is for information purposes only. Gilbert's Books is not accepting any pre-orders at this time. A notice will be posted on our web site, online bookshop, and e-mailed to those who subecribe to our bi-weekly news updates, when this title is available - Paul Gilbert 
© Gilbert's Books. 27 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:18 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 31 July 2015 1:47 PM EDT
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Sunday, 26 July 2015
ROC Seek Return of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg
Topic: Russian Church

St. Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg
The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) have confirmed that they have filed a petition to local politicians in St Petersburg to discuss the return of St. Isaac's Cathedral, which is currently an historical monument and a museum. Russian media sources report that the news of the proposal has generated heated discussion in Russian society.

Maxim Reznik, the deputy of the St. Petersburg legislative, and who also chairs the legislature’s commission for culture, confirmed on Thursday that he had received information on a petition filed by Metropolitan Barsanuphius, the ruling hierarch of the diocese for the return of the city’s landmark cathedral.

The State Historical Museum is not opposed to the transfer so long as the ROC will not prevent tourists from accessing the cathedral. A representative from the museum cited the example of St Basil's Cathedral, which has long been operated jointly by the organisation he represents and the ROC without causing any hindrance to the thousands of tourists who visit every year. The cathedral is open to visitors throughout the week, the price of admission is currently 250 rubles or the Sunday service with free admission. 

Emperor Alexander I, ordered the famous architect Auguste de Montferrand to construct the cathedral on St Isaac's Square. The cathedral took 40 years to construct, from 1818 to 1858, at the incredible amount of 1,000,000 gold rubles. St. Isaac’s is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in St. Petersburg. It is the largest orthodox basilica and the fourth largest cathedral in the world. It is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great, who had been born on the feast day of that saint. 

During the Soviet period, the cathedral was stripped of religious trappings. In 1931, it was turned into the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. During World War II, the dome was painted over in grey to avoid attracting attention from enemy aircraft. With the fall of communism, the museum was removed and regular worship activity resumed in the cathedral, but only in the left-hand side chapel. The main body of the cathedral is used for services on feast days only.

Services resumed in St. Isaac’s Cathedral in 1990, after an interval of 59 years. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, several notable funerals have been held in the cathedral, including Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich in 1992, and the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in 2006.

At present, the cathedral is owned by the city and is part of a state museum monument along with the Church of the Saviour on Blood, St. Sampson’s and Smolny Cathedrals. The city authorities are already considering a handover of the Smolny cathedral to the Russian Orthodox Church.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:14 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 26 July 2015 8:17 PM EDT
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Saturday, 25 July 2015
Monument to Emperor Nicholas I Unveiled in Stavropol
Topic: Nicholas I

Monument to Emperor Nicholas I at the Kazan Cathedral in Stavropol
A new monument to Emperor Nicholas I was unveiled on July 24th on the grounds of the Kazan Cathedral in the Russian city of Stavropol. The installation of the monument marks the 190th anniversary of his accession to the throne in 1825.

Emperor Nicholas I visited Stavropol in 1837, while enroute from Tiflis (now Tbilisi) to St. Petersburg. During his visit he established the Caucasus and Black Sea diocese. In addition, the emperor approved the draft of the Kazan Cathedral, which was constructed between 1843 -1847. 

The bronze monument of Nicholas I is mounted on a pedestal with the engraving: “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality”, also known as Official Nationality, the dominant ideological doctrine of the emperor who ruled Russia from 1825 - 1855. 

The ceremony was inaugurated under the triple volley of small arms, and then Metropolitan Kirill of Stavropol and Nevinnomyssk performed the rite of consecration of the monument. Others in attendance included members of the clergy of the diocese, representatives of the Duma and the Government of Stavropol Territory, the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, the armed forces and the Cossacks. 

The monument to Emperor Nicholas I was made by the Russian sculptor Alexander Apollonov. The installation of the monument is a joint project of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, and Metropolitan Kirill of Stavropol and Nevinnomyssk. It is the second monument to Nicholas I to be erected in Russia during the past month, the first at the Saint Nicholas Berlyukovsky Monastery, near Moscow on July 1st. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:14 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 25 July 2015 8:24 AM EDT
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New Evidence Links Emperor Alexander I with the Holy Man Feodor Kuzmich
Topic: Alexander I

New handwriting analysis suggests Emperor Alexander I faked his own death, so he could repent his sins as the holy man Feodor Kuzmich
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the July 24th, 2015 edition of The Siberian Times. The author of this interview Anna Liesowska  owns the copyright of the work presented below. 

New handwriting analysis by Svetlana Semyonova, president of Russian Graphological Society, suggests the Russian tsar faked his own death so he could repent his sins as the holy man Feodor Kuzmich.

Rumours have long suggested that emperor Alexander I staged his death in 1825 and became holy man Feodor Kuzmich, also known as Feodor Tomsky.

A theory was that he wanted  forgiveness for any role he may have played in the assassination of his father Pavel I in 1801, or in benefiting from the work of others in slaying the tsar.  

Now analysis by Svetlana Semyonova, president of Russian Graphological Society, suggests strong similarities between the handwritings of Alexander I and the mysterious monk. 'I was given a handwritten by Alexander I at the age of 45, and also another handwritten sample by Feodor Kuzmich,' she said. 'As a graphologist, I have noted an unusual style of both handwritings.'

Handwriting samples of the monk Feodor Kuzmich and Tsar Alexander I 
Tiny characteristics of the handwriting and the psychological portraits of both authors suggest with the high level of certainty that 'it was one and the same man. 

'The only difference is that in the handwriting of an 82 year old man we can see that he was deep in his spiritual world, arches and circles appeared in his writing.

'But key features remained the same in all works.'

The tsar died 1 December 1825 at the age of 47. He contracted a cold which developed into typhus, from which he died in the southern city of Taganrog. His wife and empress Elizabeth died the following year, but again amid rumours that the death was faked, and that she became a nun, known as Silent Vera. 

Newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported that her handwriting of the tsarina and nun were also similar. 

The monk appeared in the Siberian city of Tomsk in 1837 and lived there until his death in 1864.

Since 1995, the remains of 'saint monk' Feodor are treated like a relic in Tomsk.

Professor Andrey Rachinsky, of the Paris Institute of Eastern Languages and Civilisations, said at a forum on Alexander I in Tomsk that various other facts point to a link between the royal and the monk. For example, a portrait of the monk was on the wall of Tsar Alexander III office next to those of his royal predecessors.

A merchant from Tomsk, Semyon Khromov, in whose house Feodor lived, passed his belongings after his death to the head of Holy Synod Konstantin Pobedonostsev, a man seen as close to the tsar. The professor also noted that the empress Elizabeth (Elizaveta) did not act as might have been expected after her husband's death in Taganrog. 

This year is 190th anniversary of Alexander I's death and the 20th anniversary of the discovery of the remains of monk 'Feodor Tomsky'.

Tomsk branch of the Orthodox church is not against the idea of holding a DNA test of the remains of monk Feodor. 

Writer Leo Tolstoy wrote: 'Even when monk Feodor Kuzmich was alive - he came to Siberia in 1936 and lived for 27 years in various places there - there were strange rumours about him that he was hiding his real name and position and that it was Emperor Alexander I. After the monk's death these rumours only spread and became stronger. Not only common people believed them but many from the elite, including the royal family of Tsar Alexander III.

'The reasons for these rumours were the following: Alexander died unexpectedly, he did not suffer from any disease before, he died far away from home in a remote place of Taganrog, and when he was put in the coffin many who saw him, said that he changed a lot, this is why the coffin was quickly sealed. 

'It was known that Alexander said and wrote that he wanted so much to leave his post and to stay away from this world. And one more fact which is less known is that in the official statement where Alexander's dead body was described there was a line that his back and bottom were of dark red colour and it was hardly possible to be a true description of the body of the emperor'.

The monk Feodor Kuzmich on his deathbed
'Back to Kuzmich and why he was thought to be Alexander. First of all the monk's height and appearance was so much like the emperor's, that people (especially servants who confirmed Kuzmich was Alexander) who saw Alexander or his portraits have found them really identical. 

'The age was the same, the same kind of round shoulders.

'Secondly, this Kuzmich who used to say that he was a homeless man who does not remember his family, knew foreign languages and was in a noble way gentle with others which clearly meant that he was the person with a high position in the society. 

'Thirdly, the monk never told his name and position to anyone but sometimes he clearly behaved in a way he was higher than other people. 

'Fourthly, before his death he destroyed some papers but one sheet remained, it was a coded message signed with initials A. and P. (which supporters of the theory see as standing for Alexander Pavlovich, his name and patronymic). 

'Fifthly, despite of all his faith, he never fasted. When an archpriest tried to persuade him to follow his duty of a believer, he said: 'If I had not confessed the truth about myself, the heavens would have been surprised, if I had confessed it, the earth would have been surprised'.' 

© Anna Liesowska / The Siberian Times. 25 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:40 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 25 July 2015 8:33 AM EDT
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Friday, 24 July 2015
Campaign to Rename Moscow Metro Station Honouring Regicide Gains Momentum
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs

Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the July 23rd, 2015 edition of The Moscow Times. The author of this interview Daria Litvinova owns the copyright of the work presented below.

Long-running calls for the renaming of a Moscow district named after a revolutionary who played a part in the execution of Russia’s last imperial family appeared to have made headway Thursday, when Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin added his voice to the campaign to change at least the name of the metro station.

“I suppose we should think about [renaming] Voikovskaya metro station. It wouldn’t lead to changing the surrounding addresses, so we should let people decide,” he said Thursday in an interview with the Govorit Moskva radio station.

Pyotr Voikov — after whom a district, six streets and a metro station in north-western Moscow are named — was a Bolshevik revolutionary who played a key role in the decision to execute the tsar, his wife, their five children and family servants in 1918. The family was shot and bayoneted to death in the basement of a house in the Urals city of Ekaterinburg where they were being kept under house arrest. Voikov was also involved in the grisly disposal of their remains.

During the Soviet era, Voikov was hailed as a hero, but since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the idea of renaming the district has been raised repeatedly — but never with any result.

Voikovsky is one of the rare Soviet place names in Moscow that somehow survived the large-scale renaming of the 1990s that saw Ulitsa Gorkogo become Tverskaya Ulitsa, Ulitsa Gertsena become Bolshaya Nikitskaya Ulitsa and Ploshchad Dzerzhinskogo become Lubyanskaya Ploshchad.

Even Sverdlovsk, as Ekaterinburg was renamed in 1924 in honour of Yakov Sverdlov — a Bolshevik politician who is also believed to have signed off on the shooting of the royal family — had its imperial name restored in 1991, while Voikov’s memory continued to be immortalized.

Renewed Attempts
The most recent campaign to change the name was launched last week in the wake of a series of unofficial proposals to give the surviving descendants of the Romanov dynasty some sort of status in Russia, when a Voikovsky district municipal deputy filed a proposal with City Hall to rename the area.

Alexander Zakondyrin, the deputy, suggested organizing an online referendum on renaming the district.

“I suggested five different alternatives to choose from: Volkovsky, Kosmodemyansky, Nikolsky, Aviatsionny and Peterburgsky,” he told The Moscow Times on Wednesday.

“We don’t have resources to organize a real referendum, so I suggested to Anastasia Rakova [deputy mayor and chief of staff for the mayor and City Hall] the launch of an online vote via Activny Grazhdanin [an application designed by City Hall to get feedback from residents on various issues],” Zakondyrin said.

The deputy added that there might be a sixth option. “Right now no one knows where to put the monument to Prince Vladimir [that is currently being made]. We are ready to pick a location for it within the Voikovsky district and call it the Vladimirsky district — why not?” he said.

Diverse Support
His proposal hadn’t elicited any reaction from the authorities as of Wednesday, Zakondyrin said, since deputy mayor Rakova is currently on vacation. Nevertheless he received widespread support — some of it from unexpected quarters.

Representatives of the former imperial dynasty unsurprisingly sided with the deputy’s proposal the same day he filed it to City Hall.

“It’s about time it was done. The names of those involved in repressions and the execution of the tsar’s family should be taken off the map of Moscow,” German Lukyanov, an attorney for some of the surviving Romanovs, was cited by the Interfax news agency as saying last week.

On Tuesday, the Russian Orthodox Church — which canonized the imperial family as passion bearers in 2000 — expressed its support for the proposal, Interfax reported. Church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin called for Voikov’s name to be wiped off the city map and described him as “a terrorist and a destroyer” who deserves “eternal punishment and dishonor” rather than to have streets and metro stations named after him.

Prominent civil rights defender and head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva agreed with Chaplin.

“It’s a rare occasion when I agree with the Russian Orthodox Church, but Voikov is an unsavoury figure, his reputation is blotted, and his name shouldn’t grace a metro station or anything else,” she was cited by Interfax as saying Tuesday.

Residents of the district were also quick to express support for the change, and began enthusiastically discussing new names for the metro station and streets in numerous groups devoted to the neighbourhood on Russian social network VKontakte.

“[Let’s call it] Volkovsky. When I was a 6-year-old kid, I couldn’t understand why we have a street [in the district] named after the cosmonaut Volkov while the metro station is Voikovskaya. I always thought it was some kind of mistake,” Alexei Chernukhin, a local resident, wrote in a thread on the VKontakte group “Voika” dedicated to a possible name change.

“I studied at the MAI [Moscow Aviation Institute], so it would be cool to name the district Aviatsionny [Aviation],” another user, Yevgeny Koshelev, wrote in the same thread.

Years of Pledges
But this is not the first time calls have been heard to rename the district. The saga began in 1997, when the state commission responsible for identifying the remains of the royal family found outside Ekaterinburg stated that Voikovskaya metro station should be renamed.

Since then, attempts have been made by the Orthodox Church, pro-monarchy residents and religious foundations every couple of years. In 2008, some monarchist activists held a few meagre pickets in support of renaming all the places named after Voikov, but their efforts resulted in nothing.

The closest the campaign edged to success was in 2011, when Lyudmila Shve­tsova, deputy mayor for social development and head of the commission responsible for naming city sites back then, mentioned in an interview to the Izvestia newspaper that City Hall would “consider the proposal” to rename Voikovskaya metro station.

Following the interview, Russian media exploded with headlines stating that Voikovskaya would definitely be renamed, but once again the story fizzled out, and the station kept its name.

‘No’ to Rewriting History
Far from everyone agrees with renaming the Voikovsky district. The Communist Party has said it is an attempt to “rewrite history” and called on Muscovites to respect “the decisions our ancestors made to immortalize someone’s memory,” Valery Rashkin, a Communist deputy in the State Duma, told the Russkaya Sluzhba Novostei radio station on Tuesday.

“I categorically object to the renaming. We should look at the bigger picture, not at the opinions of some groups,” he was cited by the radio station as saying. “We should consider our history from the tsarist era and Soviet period through to the present as a whole,” he added.

Moscow City Duma Deputy Yevgeny Gerasimov, chair of the commission for culture and mass communications, agreed with Rashkin. “We should all calm down and preserve our history the way it is,” Gerasimov told The Moscow Times in a phone interview Wednesday.

“It’s about time we let go and stop renaming everything. Our history is too long and too versatile,” he said. “Moreover, I’m sure lots of people don’t even know who Voikov is,” the deputy added.

Gerasimov also said that renaming the district, the metro station and several streets would entail too much bureaucracy. “Can you imagine how many documents Muscovites would have to redo due to the address change, and how much money that would require? It would be a great inconvenience for local residents,” Gerasimov said.

Zakondyrin rejected that objection. “I’m surprised an experienced lawmaker would say such a thing,” he said in a phone interview with The Moscow Times. “No one will have to redo their documents right away. If a document expires, the new one will contain the new address — it’s a normal procedure,” he said.

‘Yes’ to Changing Times
Several Russian historians polled by The Moscow Times were unanimous in their verdict: Voikov’s name should be taken off the map.

“It’s preposterous to have his name in the capital [of Russia] or anywhere else as the name of a metro station, [Voikov doesn’t deserve to have] a public toilet [named after him],” journalist and historian Pyotr Romanov — no relation to the former imperial family — and author of the “Ostorozhno: Istoria” (Caution: History) educational project told The Moscow Times on Wednesday.

Grigory Revzin, an arts historian and journalist at Kommersant daily, agreed. “Voikov is a loathsome figure, and it’s strange that something is called after him,” he told The Moscow Times. “And those who fight ‘the rewriting of history’ are simply trying to declare their version of events the truest, and no one has ever managed to do that,” he said.

Taking Soviet names off the map is a good idea, prominent historian and author of numerous history textbooks Leonid Katsva told The Moscow Times in a phone interview, but Voikov is not necessarily the most pressing example.

“We still have a small town outside of Moscow called Dzerzhinsky [after the founder of the dreaded Soviet secret police]. It also has a square named after Dzerzhinsky and a highway,” he said. “Why pick Voikov as a target while there’s still a large street and a library named after Lenin, and the mausoleum [containing Lenin’s embalmed body] is still on Red Square?” the historian said.

Rewriting history happens all the time and is completely normal and even useful, said Katsva. “Every piece of new research can be considered rewriting history,” he said. “When they renamed Bolshaya Kaluzhskaya Ulitsa into Leninsky Prospekt, that was rewriting history, when they renamed the Rumyantsevskaya Library into the Lenin Library, that was rewriting history. It’s inevitable, and I don’t think it’s harmful,” he said.

“The Communists started ‘rewriting history’ after the [1917] revolution, when they renamed most of the streets,” agreed Alexei Dedushkin, a well-known specialist in the history of Moscow and one of the founders of the city history project. "So they shouldn't really complain," he added.

© Daria Litvinova / The Moscow Times. 24 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:39 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 25 July 2015 8:24 AM EDT
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Thursday, 23 July 2015
Exhibition: Court Perfumer at Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo

A unique exhibition opened at Tsarskoye Selo on 13 July. Court Perfumer is an interactive exhibition laboratory, on display in the Grottoes in the basement of the Cameron Gallery. The exhibit is a joint project presented by the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve and the St Petersburg Perfumers Guild. 

Special video information in Russian, English and Chinese introduces visitors to the history of Russian perfumery during the eighteenth to the early twentieth century, giving facts about perfume etiquette and secrets of perfume creation.

On display are interesting archive materials and images of old perfume bottles and early twentieth-century advertising pamphlets. Visitors can also sample the fragrances of some lost perfumes from the Tsarist Russia, reconstructed by modern experts from archived recipes. The fragrances on display are those preferred by Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, their four daughters Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and their son Tsesarevich Alexei.

During the exhibit,  St Petersburg Perfumers Guild will launch a new line of scents associated with St. Petetsburg, including the Catherine Park of Tsarskoye Selo fragrance. A pilot consignment of the souvenir scent is expected to be made available at the museum in the near future.

According to Oksana Chernyshova, the Guild’s president, the ‘spirit of the park’ is a well-balanced blend of wildflowers and herbs – like the regular Decorative Parterre of the Granite Terrace amid a meadow in the landscape area of the Catherine Park, which served as the inspiration. ‘A tiny drop of it on your wrist or handkerchief will bring back memories of this beautiful place’.  

Director Olga Taratynova of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve says, ‘Millions of our visitors take with them some amber and other souvenirs, photo albums and books. This souvenir scent gives them something more. It combines the emotions and visiting experience with the unique energy of Tsarskoye Selo. It’s an imaginary travel back in the time of Catherine the Great, into a fragrant meadow that she has just crossed. We are so glad that the perfumers were inspired by the Catherine Park, one of the most beautiful places on Earth’.

The exhibition: Court Perfumer runs from 13 July to 30 September, 2015 in the Cameron Gallery at the Catherine Palace, Tsarskoye Selo.

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:15 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 25 July 2015 8:25 AM EDT
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