The World Russian People’s Council (WRPC) has proposed December 5, the anniversary of the destruction of Christ the Saviour Cathedral, as a civil day to remember the many Russian Orthodox churches destroyed by the Bolsheviks and Communists in Russia during the Soviet years. The idea was presented at a press conference held last week by the head of the council’s Expert Center Alexander Rudakov.
“We are proposing to discuss the question of making this date a public day—The Day of Remembrance for Ruined Churches—not only of the Russian Orthodox Church, but all churches and religious objects of traditional religions which have been ruined, destroyed, blown up, and desecrated in the era of godless persecutions,” said Rudakov.
“This date proposed by us for discussion—The Day of Remembrance for Ruined Churches—is not an occasion for historical revenge, or for settling historical accounts. It is really an occasion to reflect on the tragedies of our past and make sure they never happen again,” the WRPC representative added, noting that they see the proposal as an opportunity to consolidate rather than split society.
According to Igor Garkavy, director of the Butovo Memorial Center emphasizes that Russians should “understand the magnitude of what was lost.” Before the communist revolution there were 57,000 churches in Russia— this number was reduced to 6,000 in 1991. Among the loss was Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral, blown up on December 5, 1931, and restored in the 1990s. Butovo, a site of mass executions and graves, is now a place of pilgrimage just south of Moscow, where stands a new church in honor of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.
Garkavy has also proposed erecting memorial crosses, or at least a plaque, on the site of ruined churches not yet restored.
The World Russian People’s Council is an international public organization founded in 1993, granted special consultative status to the UN in 2005. Patriarch Kirill serves as the council’s head.
The Narva Castle Museum (Hermann Castle) will host a new photo exhibition The Romanovs and Imperial St. Petersburg, featuring the photographs of the famous Russian photographer Karl Bulla, from 21 January to 21 February, 2017
The exhibition showcases rare photographs of the Russian Imperial family, and a wide panorama of life in Imperial Russia at the turn of 19th to early 20th centuries, from the collection of the Karl Bulla Historical Photograph Fund in St. Petersburg.
The photo exhibition is presented in the framework of the celebrations dedicated to the 120th anniversary of the Voskresensky Cathedral in Narva, Estonia.
The ceremonial laying of the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Narva (1896) was dedicated to the official meeting of Emperors Alexander III of Russia and the German Emperor Wilhelm II on 5 August 1890. The event was presided by Reverend Father Arseny, Bishop of Riga and Mitava, in the presence of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna, as well as other members of the imperial family and many dignitaries. The foundation stone of the cathedral was laid by Emperor Alexander III.
In 1904, photographer Karl Bulla received permission to photograph members of the Russian Imperial family. He photographed the Emperor's meetings with other heads of state, including historic meetings held in Reval (Tallinn). It was here, that Bull photographed the meeting between Emperor Nicholas II and French President Armand Fallières in July 1908. In July of 1912 he photographed the meeting of Nicholas II and the German Emperor Wilhelm II onboard the imperial yacht Standart.
For 20 years, Karl Bulla photographed the Russian emperors and members of the Imperial family and their entourage. In November 1894, Karl Bulla photographed the funeral of Emperor Alexander III in St. Petersburg, as well as the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II in Moscow in May 1896. His photographs present the daily life of the Imperial family and public celebrations in which they participated. Karl Bulla gained popularity with his coverage during the participation of Nicholas II and his family during the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of St. Petersburg in 1903, and the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 1913.
The exhibition was organized by the Association of Russian Artists of Estonia, headed by Curator of the International Cultural Exhibition Project - Lily Kerr. The project is supported by the Embassy of Russian Federation in the Republic of Estonia and the Narva and Peipsi Diocese of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
The exhibition The Romanovs and Imperial St. Petersburg runs from 21 January to 21 February 2017, in Narva Castle, Narva, Estonia.
A magnificent historical treasure of Imperial Russia is one of the exhibits at the 27th Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie this week. The prestigious watchmaker Parmigiani presents the 1907 Yusupov Egg as part of their exhibit which runs in Geneva from 16th to 20th January.
In spite of its great age, the egg always has still retained it’s original splendour. Restored by the workshops of Parmigiani Fleurier ten years ago, the Fabergé egg of the Yusupov family is drawing large crowds to the stand of the Swiss luxury watchmakers at the fair.
1907 Yusupov Egg
In 1907, the charismatic Prince Felix Felixovich Sumarkov-Elston offered the Fabergé egg to his wife, Princess Zinaida Nikolayevna Yusupova, on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary, as evidenced by the number XXV inscribed on the base of the clock. The couple were married on April 4, 1882 in Saint Petersburg.
The egg is made of yellow and red gold, diamonds, emeralds, pearls, rubies, translucent raspberry pink and opaque white enamel, with a base made of white onyx.
The egg is presented as a Louis XVI style table clock, with a rotating opaque white enamel dial, set with diamond-set Roman numerals, standing on three pilasters and lion-paw feet. Suspended laurel swags contain three oval medallions that once held miniatures of the senior Prince Felix Yusupov and his sons, Felix (1887-1967) and Nicholas (1883-1908). The medallions now bear the gold letters M, Y and S, within rose-cut diamond borders, the initials of the last owner, Maurice Sandoz.
According to Annemiek Wintraecken, the miniatures of Prince Felix and his two sons Felix and Nikolai were removed in New York at the request of Maurice Sandoz, the new owner. The firm that did the work reportedly retains the original medallions to this day.
Great landowners and industrialists, connoisseurs and collectors of art, the Yusupovs, whose fortune was second in the empire behind the Romanovs, led a life of an unheard-of splendour. As the head of one of the most important noble family in Russia, Princess Zinaida also inherited a vast fortune, which meant owning the largest collection of historical jewels in Russia, second only to that of the vaults of the Russian Imperial Family.
Following the Russian Revolution, Zinaida lost her vast wealth. She and her husband moved to Rome living under reduced circumstances. After his death in 1928 she moved to Paris, where she died in 1939.
The Fate of the 1907 Yusupov Egg
The 1907 Yusupov Egg was possibly sold by Russian officials in Paris or Berlin, with a succession of owners: dealers in London (1949), Dr. Maurice Sandoz, Switzerland (1953), Edward and Maurice Sandoz Collection, Lausanne, Switzerland (1958).
The 1907 Yusupov Egg, which is now part of the Maurice-Yves Sandoz Collection, was deposited in the workshops of Parmigiani Fleurier for restoration in 2007. Thanks to the firms restoration experts, this rare Fabergé egg has now received a "second life".
Descendants of the Romanov dynasty hope all the conditions are there now for interring the remains of two children of the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II - Tsesarevich Alexis and Grand Duchess Maria who were murdered in Ekaterinburg in the Urals together with their parents, their three sisters and four faithful retainers on the night of 16/17 July 1918.
"Together with other relatives I took part in bidding final farewell to with the elder Romanov, Dmitri Romanovich in Copenhagen in the past few days," Rostislav Rostislavich Romanov said. "He was an outstanding person who devoted all his thoughts and actions to Russia. He believed it was a matter of paramount importance to put the victims of the Ekaterinburg tragedy to rest.
The descendants of the Romanov dynasty "think they should bring to an end the cause that was initiated by the late head of the Romanov Family Association."
Rostislav Rostislavich recalled that the late Dimitri Romanovich performed an instruction of the Imperial Family in the summer of 1998 and escorted the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, and the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia from Ekaterinburg to St Petersburg for burial in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral.
It was also at the initiative of Dmitri Romanovich that the remains of Nicholas II’s mother, the dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, were transferred from Copenhagen for reburial in St Petersburg in 2006.
In addition, Dimitri Romanovich brought to Russia the remains of his great uncle, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, the chief commander of the Russian Army during World War I. He thus performed his great uncle’s will "to be placed to final rest near his soldiers."
Dimitri Romanovich firmly believed that Tsesarevich Alexei and the Grand Duchess Maria should be buried together with their parents and sisters.
"Dimitri Romanovich hoped this tragic chapter of Russian history would be turned over during his lifetime," Rostislav said. "He didn’t live to see this moment when he was in this world, but we do believe he will see it from heaven.”
Rostislav said that a decision was taken at a meeting with Dimitri Romanovich’s widow Theodora Alexeyevna to continue the operations of the Romanov Family Association at large and to continue raising funds for charitable projects in Russia.
Rostislav Rostislavovich, who is 32 said he learned by heart one of Dimitri Romanovich’s maxims: "Think of what you can give to Russia, not of what you can take".
St. Petersburg will remain the owner of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral, one of the city’s landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage site, which will be handed over to the Russian Orthodox Church for free use, said Vice-Governor Mikhail Mokretsov.
"As part of carrying out the federal legislation, the St. Isaac Cathedral will be transferred to the Moscow Patriarchate for free use, still St. Petersburg will remain the owner and the cathedral’s legal status will not change," the vice governor explained.
Mokretsov added that failure to comply with the contract to preserve the valuables at the St. Isaac’s Cathedral by the Moscow Patriarchate as a contract party will lead to its termination.
The handover of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral museum to the Russian Orthodox Church, may take at least two to three years, said the museum’s director, Nikolay Burov, during an interview with the TASS News Agency on Wednesday.
Burov said that time is needed to determine the future of St. Isaac’s full-time staff totaling 393 members and of several thousand museum items, which are currently part of the state’s property, and to outline plans for refurbishment.
"The restoration should continue," he said. "We have a renovation plan until 2028 but we should take into account that this professional work is costly."
Many items adorn the cathedral’s interior and exterior, Burov said, adding that "the current law on state museum funds does not regulate this matter."
Burov said the museum at St. Isaac’s Cathedral will definitely cease to exist after its handover to the Church.
According to Burov, St. Isaac’s is one of Russia’s most popular museums visited by some 3.5 million visitors annually.
The director said St. Isaac’s would continue working as museum until the end of 2017.
The St. Petersburg diocese asked the city government to hand the cathedral back to the Church in 2015 but the request was rejected. A year later new requests were sent to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Governor Poltavchenko.
The cathedral was built in 1818-1858 and transformed into a museum after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Church services were resumed at St. Isaac’s in 1990.
Nonetheless, St. Isaac’s was not property of the Orthodox Church even prior to the revolution as its maintenance was very expensive. The cathedral was managed by the Imperial Ministry of Communication Routes and Public Buildings until 1871 and was then handed over to the Interior Ministry of the Russian Empire.
The funeral for Dimitri Romanovich Romanov was held on January 10th in the Church of St. Alexander Nevsky in Copenhagen.
The 90 year old, great-great grandson of Emperor Nicholas I,was taken to a hospital in Denmark last week suffering from serious health problems. He died on the evening of December 31.
Numerous representatives of the Russian diaspora, as well as Danish officials came to the church to bid final farewell to him. The requiem service was led by the head priest of the church, Father Sergius.
Russian Ambassador to Denmark Mikhail Vanin read out a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin. "The President of the Romanov Family Association, he maintained indissoluble spiritual ties with his Homeland throughout his life. He made a huge contribution to spreading abroad knowledge about our country’s history and culture, about the heritage and traditions of the Russian Imperial House," the message said about Dimitri Romanov.
"Throughout all the recent years, the thoughts and deeds of Dimitri Romanovich were with Russia," his widow Theodora said.
A Century After the Russian Revolution, Will Putin Bury Lenin? Topic: Bolsheviks
The embalmed corpse of Vladimir Lenin on display in the mausoleum on Red Square in Moscow
This is an abridged version of an article by Steve Gutterman, originally published by Radio Free Europe.
It has been abridged and edited from its original by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia.
Disclaimer: No copyright is claimed by Royal Russia, but published for information purposes only.
The embalmed corpse of Vladimir Lenin, whose seizure of power following the Bolshevik Revolution sealed the fate of the Romanov dynasty and ushered in more than 70 years of communist rule, lies on view in a squat stone mausoleum just outside the Kremlin walls.
Amid intermittent calls from Russians to put Lenin in the ground, Putin -- who is often described as pragmatic -- may have been weighing the possibility for years. And 2017, the centenary of the revolution, would seem like the time to do it.
For one thing, burying Lenin could drive home the message that revolution is bad.
He criticized Lenin last January, accusing him of planting a "time bomb" beneath the state and sharply denouncing brutal repressions by the Bolshevik government. Putin went further when he denounced Lenin and his government for brutally executing Russia's last Emperor along with all his family and servants. "Why did they kill Dr. Botkin, why did they kill the servants, people of proletarian origin by and large? What for? Just for the sake of concealing a crime," Putin said during a meeting with pro-Kremlin activists.
Others have gone further. Natalia Poklonskaya, a Russian lawmaker and former prosecutor in the Russian-imposed government of Crimea, lumped Lenin together with Hitler and Mao Zedong as "monsters" of the 20th century. And ultranationalist Zhirinovsky has called for Moscow's Leninsky Prospekt -- Lenin Avenue -- to be renamed after Ivan the Terrible.
In a reference to the Bolshevik Revolution during his state-of-the-nation address on December 1, Putin said that coups invariably lead to "the loss of human life, casualties, economic decline, and misery." He warned against "speculating on tragedies that occurred in nearly every Russian family" as a result of the revolution -- a warning, at least in part, not to try anything like it again.
More broadly, burying Lenin would add substantially to Putin's legacy, etching him in history as a leader who made a big break with the Soviet past. It could help him replace Lenin as a father figure and aid his quest to unite Russian citizens around some overarching national idea -- a goal that has so far been elusive.
There have been calls for Lenin's burial since the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991. In 2013, a poll by the independent Levada Center found that only 25 percent of Russians believed his body should remain in the mausoleum on Red Square.
But the Kremlin has always been cautious, concerned about offending those who feel nostalgia for the Soviet era and about angering the Communists -- who have come in second in every parliamentary election since 1995, when they came in first.
Just as the Bolsheviks feared that revealing the location where the bodies of Tsar Nicholas II and his family were dumped after they were shot in a provincial cellar in 1918 would give them posthumous power as martyrs and spark protests, post-Soviet leaders have worried that moving Lenin's body from its prominent place could give leftist Kremlin opponents more force and focus.
Putin will want to avoid any step that would "unleash forces that are going to get out of control very fast," Anna Arutunyan, author of the book The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia's Power Cult, said in a Power Vertical Podcast on RFE/RL in November. "Such an emotional thing as this -- it could actually backfire in terms of creating more support for the Communist Party instead of less."
Mark Galeotti, a senior policy fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague believes, however, that Putin's government could seek to put paid to such a threat -- and also clear the body off Red Square -- by publicly casting his burial as a "final gesture of respect" for a man who played a crucial role in Russian history, good or bad.
But as 2017 approached, Russian officials made it clear that Putin plans to use the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution as an occasion to plug the idea of national unity. While Putin may see Lenin's burial as a chance to do just that, he could also decide that Russia is still not ready for such a step.
"There is this backlash against Lenin, but he is still in the mausoleum, and I'm not really seeing him being taken out of the mausoleum any time soon," Arutunyan said.
Ekaterinburg Preparing for Centenary Marking Imperial Family Deaths Topic: Ekaterinburg
The Church on the Blood (left) and the Patriarchal Compound (right) which houses the Museum of the Holy Royal Family
Ekaterinburg remains my favourite Russian city. I have visited Ekaterinburg on two occasions - in June of 2012, and most recently in June of 2016. I am already making plans to return next year for the events marking the 100th anniversary of the deaths of Emperor Nicholas II and his family.
*Please note that I will not be offering a tour to Ekaterinburg in 2018. My last organized group tour to Russia was in 2006, and I have no plans to resume these tours in the future. For the past decade, my annual visits to Russia are independent work visits, in which I conduct research for my web site and publications.
The centenary marking the deaths of Nicholas II and his family will take place on the evening of 16/17th July, 2018. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill will participate in the commemorative events marking the anniversary. The divine liturgy will be culminated by a pilgrimage from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama. A special committee has been established to organize the centenary Royal Days events, which is expected to attract more than 100,000 people from across Russia and abroad - myself included!
Ekaterinburg is still trying to come to terms with the regicide which took place here on the night of 16/17 July 1918. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Nicholas II and his family have been memorialized in the construction of the Church on the Blood, and the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama.
Once a bastion of Bolshevism, Ekaterinburg is saying good-bye to its status as the "capital of atheism," and transforming into the center of Orthodox Russia in the Urals.
Upon returning from Ekaterinburg, I wrote a summary of each visit in the No. 2 and No. 10 issues of Royal Russia. These articles offer my impressions of the many sites associated with the last days of Nicholas II and his family, including many little known museums and exhibits. Each article is richly illustrated with my own photographs. Some of the photographs from my June 2016 visit can be seen here.
One of the new publishing projects which I am currently working on is Ekaterinburg. A Visitors Guide for Romanovphiles. This title will provide information on the sites associated with the months that Nicholas II and his family were held under house arrest in the Ipatiev House, including churches and museums, accomodations, dining, maps and much more. This title will be available in early 2018.
The ancient Belarusian city of Mogilev dates back to the Middle Ages. During the Second World War, the city sustained serious damage, however, numerous churches, cathedrals, monasteries and old merchant houses from the Tsarist period miraculously survived.
One of the most significant buildings in Mogliev was the Governor’s Mansion. During the years 1915–1917, the building served as the Stavka, the General Headquarters of the Imperial Russian Armed Forces, after it was re-located from the city of Baranovichi to Mogilev in August 1915.
The city’s history is indelibly linked to Russia’s last emperor. As Commander-in-Chief, Nicholas II spent long periods in Mogilev, where he occupied the former Governor's Mansion. he was often accompanied by his son and heir, the Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevna.
The Emperor loved to take walks or travel by car around the city and its surroundings, particularly the Dnieper River. In the autumn of 1915 the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna arrived with their four daughters. The Empress and her children lived onboard the Imperial train which always stood on a specially constructed siding near the railroad station.
Emperor Nicholas II took leave of the Stavka for the last time as Commander-in-Chief on 28th February 1917. It was from here that his train was forced to stop at Pskov enroute to Tsarskoye Selo, and forced to abdicate on 2nd March. He returned to Mogilev the following day. On 4th March, his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna arrived in Mogilev - it would be the last time she would see her son. On 8th March, Nicholas II bids farewell to the army and boards a train for Tsarskoye Selo, where he and his family are placed under house arrest by the Provisional Government.
The Governor's Palace was heavily damaged in 1941-1945. It was demolished in the late 1940s.
During the Soviet years the square in which it stood was renamed Glory Square
Beginning in the Spring of 2017, visitors to Mogilev will have an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Emperor Nicholas II in a guided tour. The new tourist route is part of the Belarusian State Enterprise Mogilevoblturist, headed by the company's director Yelena Karpenko.
Mogilevobltourist will offer visitors the opportunity to see the places that Nicholas II often visited. It will be a full 3 to 4-hour excursion that will be launched in the spring of 2017. In the meantime, tourists are invited to take part in a shorter excursion.
History teacher and certified tour guide Andrei Makayev will perform the role of the Emperor. He will wear a stylized Colonel's uniform. He will welcome guests at the Regional History Museum which formerly housed the General Duty Office. Mayakev will regale visitors with the history of Stavka, the main events of the period and offer a short tour of Slavy (Glory) Square. In the future, the tour will include an opportunity to have a cup of tea with Mayakev and watch documentary vintage military newsreels in the museum.
Just recently a group of Russian tourists were the first to meet with Mayakev as part of a sightseeing tour of Mogilev. “For the first time, we have tested the tour with elements of theatrical entertainment. The tour is a result of our attempt to look at Mogilev and its history through the eyes of the Emperor and Saint (in 2000, the Emperor and his family were canonized as passion-bearers by the Moscow Patriarchate). Five groups of Russian tourists have already booked the tour with Nicholas II during the Christmas and New Year holidays,” Yelena Karpenko said.