Bones of Contention: Russia Tries to Lay Royal Remains Row to Rest Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
Locked in a safe in Russia’s state archive lie two white cardboard boxes holding a few fragments of darkened bones, each numbered and stored in a plastic bag.
Geneticists, forensic experts and investigators have long been certain who these remains belonged to — Alexei, the 13-year-old son of the last tsar Nicholas II, and his sister Maria, who were shot along with their family by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
But despite DNA evidence of their identity, objections from the country’s powerful Orthodox Church mean the bones remain unburied almost a century after the brutal slaying.
Now a new probe is aiming to finally lay the controversy to rest — and the remains too, next to the other members of Russia’s last royal family, interred back in 1998 in their former capital Saint Petersburg.
“What’s at stake is whether to recognise the supposed remains of the tsar’s family as holy relics,” Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida told a recent press conference.
The Church does not accept that any of the remains of the tsar’s family are authentic and says it needs to make sure beyond doubt, as it has proclaimed all the family members saints and martyrs.
Russia’s government went ahead regardless with the other burials in 1998 but is now seeking to resolve the row with the Church before burying the others.
This summer, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev renewed calls to lay Alexei and Maria to rest with their parents and sisters.
The Church broke the stalemate, agreeing with the government to reopen the probe into the murders and carry out additional DNA testing of the other Romanovs, with clerics present as samples are taken.
Exhuming the Tsars
To satisfy them, investigators reopened the tombs of Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra, and are set to exhume Nicholas’s father Alexander III.
The first results of the new tests are coming back once again confirming their identity and experts say they are struggling to see what further objections the Church could have.
But the Church is still hesitant to recognise the DNA evidence and argues that although it is willing to make the historic move, it must “rule out the possibility of any mistake whatsoever” and conduct its own research.
For experts working on the remains of the last royal family, any recognition will not come before time.
The remains of Alexei and Maria were found together in 2007 in Yekaterinburg — the central Russian city where the last tsar, his family and their servants were massacred.
That discovery came some 16 years after the rest of the family were found in another grave, and nearly a decade after the remains of the tsar and his other three children were buried at a ceremony overseen by then-president Boris Yeltsin.
“I announce with absolute responsibility that enough evidence has been collected to prove that in the graves found in 2007 were the remains of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna and Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolayevich,” Mr Sergei Mironenko, the head of the state archive, told AFP in his Moscow office.
“To be honest, if you ask me, I don’t understand the position of the Russian Orthodox Church.”
After all this time, those seeking a burial for Alexei and Maria — including descendants of the family — say they want the remains to finally leave their limbo in the state archive.
“The Russian government have accepted they have not done what is supposed to be done,” Mr Paul Kulikovsky, great-grandson of Nicholas’s II’s sister, told AFP.
“I’m sure now that we are seeing is just a process towards that... actually the funeral will take place,” said Mr Kulikovsky.
“Now when the Church is participating, it’s a different story.”
Alexander III's Tomb to be Opened for DNA Study on Tuesday Topic: Alexander III
Emperor Alexander III
Note: this article has been edited from the original by Paul Gilbert
Experts are planning to begin the study of the remains of Emperor Alexander III this week in a new DNA study within the criminal probe into the death of the last Russian Imperial family in July 1918.
"It is expected that the tomb of Emperor Alexander III in the St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral in St. Petersburg will be opened up on Tuesday," a source told Interfax on Nov.23.
The emperor's remains will be exhumed and his samples will be sent to Moscow for analysis.
Russia's Investigative Committee resumed the investigation into the death of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II and his family in September. Investigators said that additional studies were organized to confirm the authenticity of the remains of Nicholas' children, Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria. Their remains are currently kept in the State Archive in Moscow.
The remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife, Empress Alexandra were sent to Moscow for the purpose of the comparing their DNA with pieces of clothing containing blood samples of Emperor Alexander II.
The new DNA study is confirming earlier conclusions of the authenticity of the remains of the last Russian imperial family that were murdered by the Bolsheviks in Ekaterinburg, Evgeny Rogayev, head of the human genomics and genetics department of the Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Interfax in November.
Muscovites Step Up Effort To Rename Metro Station Honouring Tsar's Killer Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the November 21st, 2015 edition of Radio Free Europe (RFE). Lilya Palveleva and Robert Coalson own the copyright of the work presented below.
Moscow's Voikovskaya metro station -- named in 1964 in honor a Bolshevik revolutionary who participated in the 1918 murder of the Russian royal family -- has inexplicably escaped the wave of name changes that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In the early 1990s, 11 Moscow metro stations honoring Soviet figures from Vladimir Lenin to secret police founder Feliks Dzerzhinsky were renamed. The station honoring Pytor Voikov, however, has gone untouched despite a 25-year effort to see its name changed.
Now the effort has gained new urgency, with activists launching an online petition to make their case to the city authorities amid fears that a nearby railway platform to be opened next month might also be named after Voikov.
The fight against honoring Voikov has created a strange coalition, ranging from the Russian Orthodox Church to Stalinist-monarchist political figures to liberal human-rights activists. Yet doubts remain whether the city government will heed their calls.
Opened in 1964 on the northwestern outskirts of the capital, the station is named after Bolshevik revolutionary and Soviet diplomat Voikov, a man of remarkably little distinction even by Soviet standards.
His only claim to fame is that he was actively involved in fabricating "evidence" of alleged counterrevolutionary activity by the Russian royal family that the Soviet government used as justification for executing the deposed Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, and their five children. Russian archives contain a gruesome document in Voikov's handwriting ordering a pharmacy in Yekaterinburg to provide 165 kilograms of sulfuric acid that was used to dispose of the royal remains.
"I was one of the most ardent supporters of [executing the Romanovs]," Voikov wrote in a memoir. "Revolutions must be cruel to deposed monarchs."
Later, in Moscow, Voikov oversaw the sale abroad of Russian cultural treasures from the Kremlin -- including many famous Faberge eggs from the Romanov family collections. In 1924, he was sent as the Soviet representative to Poland, and he was assassinated three years later by an emigre Russian monarchist. He is buried in the Soviet necropolis in the Kremlin wall.
"Almost no one denies the fact that Voikov was involved in the murder of the tsarist family," says Yevgeny Sosedov, head of the Moscow Oblast branch of the Society For the Preservation of Monuments, "or that he participated in the discussions and voted for execution. This is a historically proven fact."
A 'Terrorist And Destroyer'
Activists worry that when the new railway platform opens in December, it too will bear Voikov's name because municipal transport guidelines recommend that such platforms have the same name as the nearest metro station.
The array of support for renaming the station is impressive. The remaining Romanov family has asked the Russian government to rename it. The powerful Russian Orthodox Church -- which has canonized the entire royal family as "passion-bearers" -- has described Voikov as "a terrorist and a destroyer" who merits "eternal punishment and dishonor."
"It is a rare occasion when I agree with the Russian Orthodox Church," long-time rights activist Lyudmila Alekseyeva told the Interfax news agency in July. "Voikov is an unsavory figure; his reputation is besmirched; and his name shouldn't grace a metro station or anything else."
In 2010, a majority of deputies in the State Duma passed a nonbinding call for the Moscow city government to change the station's name.
The latest effort to provoke a change was initiated by Aleksandr Zakondyrin, a local council deputy in Moscow's northern Voikov district, where the contentious metro station and rail platform are located. He set up a petition on the website of the Moscow city government to solicit the opinions of citizens. Voting in the nonbinding opinion poll will close on November 23.
According to a local Moscow news agency on November 18, nearly 290,000 people have cast ballots on the poll so far, with 35 percent supporting renaming the station and 53 percent opposing.
Supporters of the name change, however, have expressed concern that the city's poll will not accurately reflect opinions. People can cast votes merely by inputting a Russian telephone number, which means that people from around the country can vote and there is nothing to stop people from voting multiple times.
Sosedov, who is not a resident of Moscow, says that when he tried to vote in favor of changing the station's name, he had to try repeatedly before the site accepted his vote. However, when he voted in favor of leaving the current name, his vote registered immediately. He says others have complained to him of similar problems.
He also expresses concern about how Moscow media have covered the story.
"In particular, the media that in one way or another are connected with the Moscow government, literally on the first day of voting -- even in the first hours of voting -- were running headlines to the effect that Muscovites had voted against renaming the station," he says. "But the voting had only just begun."
The conservative Regnum news agency, for instance, on November 13 published an article under the headline, "In Russia There Are Calls For Bringing Down Lenin. Are They Preparing A Liberal Maidan In Moscow," referring to the popular uprising in Ukraine that toppled the government of President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
Anton Khudyakov, a coordinator of the Rename Voikovskaya civic group, says he doesn't see why an online referendum is necessary at all. His group has submitted to the authorities a petition with the verified signatures of 6,500 residents of the Voikov district calling for the name change and for the new railway platform not to be named in Voikov's honor.
"I really don't understand why we needed to collect signatures," he says. "After all, we have been pushing for this for 25 years. Moreover, just recently, in connection with the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of victory [in World War II], the station Ulitsa Podbelskogo was very quickly renamed Rokossovsky Boulevard [after Soviet Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky]. No one asked anyone about that."
"And when they renamed the station Brateyevo to Alma-Atinskaya, they didn't pay any attention to the 7,000 signatures collected on a petition against this."
Khudyakov says his group has no problem in theory with the idea of a referendum, but insists that participants must be required to submit their passport information to participate.
"That would be honest," he says. "And after such a transparent, representative process, the authorities could take a responsible decision. But in the current case, we don't see anything like this."
'No Reasoned Discussion'
Supporters of keeping the old name offer few arguments. Communist Duma Deputy Valery Rashkin said in July that the party opposes attempts to "rewrite history," calling on Muscovites to respect "the decision our ancestors made to immortalize someone's memory." It was an odd position to take considering that, when the communists were in power, they routinely changed tsarist-era place names, including the names of major cities and entire oblasts.
"We often hear: 'this is our history; let's not change our history or rewrite it," says Sosedov, of the Society for the Preservation of Monuments. "This is a strange line of argument since our history has many figures who can be viewed negatively. There were traitors and murderers and terrorists."
In addition, Sosedov says, opponents of changing the name cite the experience of Ukraine, which has seen a lively campaign in recent months to remove Soviet-era monuments and replace Soviet place names.
"I have noticed that opponents of changing the name generally produce some emotional arguments," Sosedov says. "They say, 'you are making us sick with all your name changing' and 'you want to provoke a Maidan, like they had in Ukraine.' You don't see any reasoned discussion of the topic."
Proponents of the name change have suggested various alternatives. In 2013, two Duma deputies appealed to the Moscow mayor to name the station after South Africa's first black president, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela.
Activists have also proposed naming it after Soviet cosmonaut Vladislav Volkov, a two-time Hero of the Soviet Union and a Moscow native who died tragically when the Soyuz-11 space capsule depressurized during reentry on June 30, 1971. This year marks the 80th anniversary of Volkov's birth.
"Not a single metro station so far has been named after a cosmonaut," Khudyakov notes.
State Hermitage Museum Confirms Plans for Museum of Heraldry in St. Petersburg Topic: State Hermitage Museum
The Museum of Heraldry will be housed in the former Stock Exchange Building on Vasilievsky Island in St. Petersburg by 2019
Specialists of the State Hermitage Museum have developed the concept of a new Museum of Heraldry, which is to be located in the former Stock Exchange Building on Vasilievsky Island in St. Petersburg. Preparations for the restoration and repair of the former Stock Exchange Building is expected to begin in December. George V. Vilinbakhov, Chairman of the Heraldic Council of the President of the Russian Federation announced at a press conference this week that the museum is scheduled to open in late 2018 or early 2019.
In December 2013 a decision was taken to make the Stock Exchange Building designed by Thomas de Thomon in 1805-1810 a part of the State Hermitage Museum. On April 18, 2014 this outstanding architectural monument of St. Petersburg was officially handed over to the Hermitage. To mark it a special ceremony was held which signalled the start of the new project for the creation of the new museum complex of the State Hermitage, the Museum of Heraldry.
The Stock Exchange Building, a part of the architectural ensemble of the Spit of Vasilievsky Island, housed the Central Naval Museum from 1939 until 2010. When the museum had moved into the Kryukov Naval Barracks, the question of the possibility for the historical building to preserve its function as a museum came up.
The idea to create the Museum of Heraldry in the Stock Exchange Building is easy to justify, since the Hermitage can present the history of blazonry from an all-embracing historical and geographical perspective. The new museum will feature objects from the vast collections of the State Hermitage Museum, many previously unseen due to a lack of exhibition space. The museum will be further complimented with objects from the permanent exhibition of the Hermitage.
Rooms located in the two side enfilades of the museum will house both permanent and temporary exhibits. Highlights of the Museum of Heraldry will feature Far Eastern, Japanese, Chinese, Islamic, Turkish, European and Russian heraldry. The museum display will include all kinds of exhibits that can illustrate the history of heraldry: paintings, graphic art, porcelain, silver, numismatics, books, banners, flags and uniforms.
Furthermore, the Stock Exchange Building will provide a unique opportunity to host official city and state ceremonies. The Main Hall of the Stock Exchange will be used for conferences, as well as the venue for holding official ceremonies to celebrate the Day of the National Guard, National Flag Day, Russia Day, state awards ceremonies and oath-taking ceremonies.
Russian Antique Porcelain: Originals and Counterfeits Topic: Antiques
Antiques have long been attractive investments. Experts say that the annual turnover of the world antiques market is $27 billion. Hundreds of auctions are held every year in Europe alone. The Russian antiques market is still at its early stages, but it is evolving very quickly, with Russian antique porcelain among its most promising and stable investment areas.
What types of Russian porcelain are considered antique today?
Porcelain is very fragile and expensive. It only grows more valuable with time. Of course, not all porcelain items are interesting to collectors. The porcelain wares that enjoy steady demand were produced by Russian porcelain factories in 18th-19th centuries: the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in St. Petersburg (1744–1917), the Gardner Manufacture in the Moscow Governorate village of Verbilki (1766–1892), the Matvei Kuznetsov Factory in the Vladimir Governorate village of Dulyovo (1832–1917), the St. Petersburg Kornilov Brothers’ Factory (1835–1917) and the Popov Factory in the Moscow Governorate village of Gorbunovo (1811–1875).
Out of the porcelain items listed above, the ones produced by the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory (IPM) are valued the most. Outstanding pieces of art were made at the factory that was established in 1744 specifically to produce porcelain table-ware and decorative items for the Russian royal family. The factory reached the height of its art in early 19th century. In late 19th century, Emperor Alexander III arranged that all orders of the royal family be made in two sets, one of them for the factory’s museum. The tradition of regularly adding new items to the museum collection survived into the 20th century, including the Soviet era. The factory’s porcelain is very popular among collectors, especially when it comes to the plates in the so-called “war series.”
For a whole century, from 1812 to 1912, the IPM produced plates with highly detailed depictions of battles. Even uniforms of officers from different regiments and branches of service were painted in the tiniest detail. Some of the plates portrayed famous military leaders. One of these plates was recently sold for $80,500 at a Christie’s auction.
As for the rest of the porcelain factories, items produced in the same period can be valued at very different prices. Take the Kuznetsov Factory. It mostly produced commercial products for the mass market. At the same time, the factory took orders from the royal family’s circle and sometimes made additional pieces for sets produced by the IPM, mostly for Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich. Naturally, those items cost more.
What types of Russian porcelain are better investments?
Buying Russian antique porcelain is making a good investment. It constantly grows in value. In addition to the “war series” plates mentioned above, plates from various late 18th-early 19th century sets—Arabeskovy, Babiegonsky, Banketny, Biryuzovy, Kabinetsky, Ministersky, Mikhailovsky, Palevy, Yusupovsky and others—are in high demand. Plates from the Ordensky sets (produced by the Gardner Manufacture in late 18th century and inspired by Orders of Alexander Nevsky, St. Andrew, St. George, etc.) are also highly valued. Needless to say, all these items are quite costly, since most of them are custom-made. Still, there are rather early products of the IPM that can be purchased at a small price, like ‘ordinary plates’ made under orders from royal offices in large volumes—800 pieces per month and 10,000 pieces per year.
Famous Russian porcelain collections
But who buys Russian antique porcelain? The most striking and famous collections can be found abroad. Foreign collectors buy Russian porcelain methodically and thoughtfully, with 9 out of 10 pieces in a given collection being very valuable (in Russia it is usually the other way round). One of the most famous Russian porcelain collections belongs to the head of Ferrari. Maurice Baruch, co-owner of Galerie Popoff & Cie in Paris, is the possessor of a very distinguished collection as well. The collection of Mstislav Rostropovich, mostly assembled in France, can also be considered foreign.
What Russian porcelain pieces can be sold at a profit?
The demand for antiques depends on a number of factors, such as age, quality, rarity and prominence. As for the latter quality, there is a catch: most collectors know Gardner’s Ordensky plates and royal family pieces, but nearly no-one remembers Batenin’s early works. Some items are sublimely made, but if their authors are not well-known, they are not very expensive. This is something to consider.
The pieces that remain popular and thus sought-after include porcelain figures made by the IPM and Gardner’s Factory, as well as fuseau (spindle shaped) vases.
Is it better to buy Russian porcelain in Russia or abroad? The advantage of buying antique Russian porcelain in Russia is the price: porcelain can cost four times less here than in the West. The disadvantages include the underdeveloped market and the quality of expertise: there are no guarantees against counterfeits.
Originals and Counterfeits
Rarity and high value gives fertile ground to counterfeiting. Antique porcelain is as popular among counterfeiters as Impressionist paintings. Which Russian porcelain pieces are counterfeited the most?
Firstly, agit-porcelain from the early Soviet era (late 1910s-early 1920s). As a rule, counterfeiters take rather good semi-manufactured Japanese porcelain, decorate it, make it look old through special treatment and pass it off as an original. In late 1980s-early 1990s agit-porcelain could cost $40–50,000 per plate, and imitators made fortunes. Sometimes counterfeits were so good that even museum experts could mistake them for originals: a while ago, a museum in Kuskovo bought a few agit-plates, and a museum employee discovered a nearly-scratched-off “Made in Japan” inscription under the State Porcelain Manufactory (ex-IPM) stamp on one of the pieces.
Suprematist porcelain has been just as ill-fated. That porcelain was produced by SPM in mid-20th century based on sketches by Kazimir Malevich. It has often been counterfeited due to its imperfect quality: by that time, there were no stocks of semi-manufactured porcelain and the Suprematist porcelain was produced using rather low-quality gray material that can be easily fabricated.
Not so long ago, IPM cups from the era of Nicholas II emerged on the antiques market. It took time to discover they were fake—their quality was rather high. Apparently they were made in St. Petersburg. But it is doubtful and unlikely that the masters of the modern IPM produce counterfeits in their after-work hours. Although those counterfeits were made from high-quality porcelain mixture with good colors, a close look at the pattern showed that its decorators were used to brushes instead of fine-tipped porcelain markers.
There are also many counterfeits of Gardner’s figures from late 19th century. How can one tell if they are not real? After all, they are made from good porcelain mixture, with fine colors and distinct stamps. There is a small difference, though: they are a little heavier than originals.
There are, no doubt, pieces that take too much effort and money to counterfeit: high-priced decorative vases from late 20th century are almost never counterfeited. But even the most experienced and sophisticated collectors who trust their instincts have a risk of being swindled. This is why they consult experts. If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.
Demolition Has Begun on Soviet-Era Building Built on Site of Kremlin Monasteries Topic: Kremlin
The long awaited demolition of the Kremlin Presidium or "Building 14" began this week. The building was constructed in the 1930s, and up until 2011 the Soviet era building formerly housed the offices of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, the highest legislative body of the Soviet Union.
The Presidium stands on the site of the destroyed Chudov and Voznesensky monasteries and the Lesser Nicholas Palace. The two monasteres were among the historic buildings within the grounds of the Kremlin ordered to be destroyed by Joseph Stalin as part of the state atheism campaign, which resulted razing of religious structures from all over Russia.
Once the demolition is complete, a team of archaeologists will conduct excavations of the lost architectural sites will begin in April 2016. Any items discovered will be transferred to the funds of the Moscow Kremlin.
"The finest experts have been invited to organize and conduct archaeological excavations on the territory of the 14th corps in the Kremlin", - said Deputy Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences Asya Engovatova. "It will be one of the most ambitious archaeological excavations carried out within the Moscow Kremlin. It is the dream of every archaeologist, "- she added.
In August 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a bold announcement, in which he suggested rebuilding both the Chudov Monastery and Voznesensky (Ascension) Convent. The decision to re-establish the historic square and the restoration of the destroyed monasteries has been referred to UNESCO for further discussion.
For more information on the proposal to reconstruct the Chudov and Ascension monasteries, please refer to the following articles:
On This Day: Metropolitan Tikhon Elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Topic: Russian Church
On 9 October, 1989 Tikhon (Belavin) was canonized during the Bishops Council of the Russian Orthodox Church
Note: this article has been edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
On 17 November (O.S. 4 November), 1917, in full swing of revolution, the Local Council of Russian Orthodox Church approved the decree on re-establishing of patriarchate, abolished in 1721 due to the adoption of the synodal control system in Russian Orthodox Church.
The next day, on 18 November (O.S. 5 November) 1917, in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow the elections of the patriarch were held. The blind old man Alexei Zosimovsky drew lots from three candidates determined by the Council voting (metropolitan of Kharkov - Antony (Khrapovitsky), of Novgorod - Arseny (Stadnitsky) and of Moscow – Tikhon (Belavin)). The new head of the church became the president of the Council metropolitan of Moscow Tikhon. The enthronement took place on 4 December (O.S. 21 November) on the day of Presentation of the Holy Virgin in the Temple in Assumption cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin.
The reestablishment of the patriarchate occurred in the moment when the country’s rule was in the hands of the political party that was negatively set against the religious institutions. From its side the church was expressing its rejection of the forcible change of political system in the country. That is why the relationship between the new state power and the primate of Russian Orthodox Church were from the very beginning of conflict character.
On 1 February (O.S. 19 January) 1918 the patriarch addressed his flock pronouncing the anathema to the godless rule. It meant that the orthodox population of the country could not acknowledge the Soviet rule legally sound.
As soon as the next day the Soviet of the Peoples’ Commissars approved and published on 5 February (O.S. 23 January) the decree “On separation of the church from the state, and the school from the church”. The decree deprived the church of all its properties and limited its influence on all the fields of social life.
“When Patriarch Tikhon learned of the vengeful execution of the Royal Family in 1918, he commanded that Panikhidas (requiems) be served for Nicolas II as the slain Tsar—regardless of the fact that he abdicated the throne; regardless of the fact that under the Bolshevik terror this was dangerous for the Patriarch himself; regardless, finally, of the fact that ironically, it was the Tsarist government that had for 200 years prevented the restoration of the Patriarchy in general, and would have prevented his becoming Patriarch in particular.”
- Georgiy Velikanov
As the civil war was progressing, the conflict between the church and the Soviet developed. More than once the patriarch was put under house arrest and in May of 1922 an action was brought against him in order to institute criminal proceedings. After the patriarch had written a statement on his repentance for “anti-Soviet deeds”, on 21 March, 1924 the Supreme Court of the RSFSR closed his case.
On 7 April, 1925, on Annunciation Day, the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Tikhon died at the age of 60. The permission to elect the next patriarch was given only during the Great Patriotic War, on 8 September, 1943.
On 9 October, 1989 Tikhon (Belavin) was canonized during the Bishops Council of the Russian Orthodox Church. The relics of the prelate are kept in the great cathedral of Donskoy Monastery.
House of Romanov Trusts New Forensic Study on Royal Family - Chancellery Topic: Russian Imperial House
Director of the Chancellery of the Russian Imperial House, Alexander Zakatov with HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
Note: the following article has been edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
According to the Interfax News Agency in Moscow, the House of Romanov sees no reasons to question the new forensic study in the criminal probe into the death of the last Russian Emperor Nicolas II and his family, but will wait until the final results.
"The Head of the House of Romanov Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna welcomes the resumption of the investigation and generally views the people who are conducting it with a presumption of trust. At this point, there is no reason to question the honesty and proficiency of the investigators," Alexander Zakatov, the director of the Romanov family chancellery, told Interfax on Thursday.
"Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna recognizes that the stance of the Orthodox Church is treated with full respect this time and this, in her opinion, paves the way to the studies' impartiality," he said.
However, Zakatov said that it is too early to state that the authenticity of the 'Ekaterinburg remains' is proven.
"It is necessary to wait until all the results are obtained and to compare the conclusions made by the state experts with the ones made by experts called for by the Church. Only then will it be possible to finalize the findings," he said.
"Otherwise, doubts will arise again, both among Orthodox Christians and members of the public in general, and suspicions will emerge once again that everything has been foreclosed and the experts are simply forcing the evidence to fit one single theory instead of considering several theories," Zakatov said.
The House of Romanov expects that it will have a chance to look at the findings of the new genetic study.
"The head of the Romanov House is convinced that the study must be exercised openly and publicly and its findings must be available not only to the hierarchy of the Church, members of the imperial house and their relatives, but to all who are not indifferent to this problem," Zakatov said.
Tomb of Emperor Alexander III May Have Been Opened Before - Russian Orthodox Church Topic: Alexander III
Bishop Tikhon of Yegoryevsk, Secretary of the Patriarch's Council on Culture
Note: this article has been edited from the original Interfax and TASS articles, and further amended by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
The Russian Orthodox Church does not rule out that the grave of Emperor Alexander III in SS Peter and Paul Cathedral could have been opened before.
"We are not alleging anything, we are not alleging that the grave was invaded, although we believe it could have happened. The only thing we are alleging now is that the headstone was disassembled and then assembled again," Bishop Tikhon of Yegoryevsk, secretary of the Patriarch's Council on Culture, told a press conference in Moscow on Friday.
"It is possible that the tsar's remains were disturbed, there could have been looting and they are in an inappropriate condition," the bishop said.
The announcement is backed by *Dr. Marina Logunova, chief research associate at the St. Petersburg State History Museum. "There is evidence from the 1920s, including publications by Polish newspapers, that the tombs of Peter I and Alexander III had been opened, but there are no official documents confirming this," she told TASS.
The bishop said a possible opening of the grave is indicated by the absence of metal belts holding the marble covers of the headstones, which was discovered by experts who worked in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral.
The bishop also said garbage, traces of asbestos and plaster and broken stones had been found under the headstone cover.
Experts now have to lift the stone under the headstone, he said, reiterating that all actions are recorded on video and photographed.
Bishop Tikhon said graves in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral have been opened before, possibly multiple times. He said there is evidence of the opening of tsars' graves, including Peter I and Alexander I, adding that the remains of the latter were not found, the grave was empty and that evidence can become "a weighty argument" to the Russian Orthodox Church. "We are not brushing any evidence aside, we are trying to check it," he said.
Church head Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow and All Russia asked the government in October to do comparative genetic studies of remains of Emperor Nicholas and his father, Alexander III. This follows Investigative Committee resumed criminal proceedings earlier in the autumn into the slaying of members of the Romanov Imperial Family.
The Russia's Orthodox Church believes that positive findings of these forensic studies will deliver incontestable proof of the genuineness of tsarist remains and an opportunity for assigning to them the status of holy relics.
Meanwhile, Alexander Zakatov, spokesman for the Romanov Imperial House in Russia, told TASS in an interview that final conclusions about authenticity of the remains of the Russian Imperial family would be premature. "The head of the House of Romanov, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, welcomed resumption of the investigation and the fact that the state has accommodated the Russian Orthodox Church request," said Zakatov.
"However, the remains of Emperor Alexander III [the father of Nicholas II] have not been studied yet. The facts made public today are just interim results of the investigation, a comparison with certain remained samples," he added. "So far these results are consistent with the version that the Ekaterinburg remains may belong to the Imperial family. It’s premature to speak of a final decision yet. There are doubts, there are questions - all these questions, both genetic and historical ones, require an answer."
Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia with Dr. Marina Logunova the chief historian for the State Museum of St. Petersburg.
*NOTE: I would like to add that during my visit to St. Petersburg in December 2014, I was invited to meet with Dr. Marina Logunova the chief historian for the State Museum of St. Petersburg, and the woman behind the restoration of the Cathedral of Peter and Paul - final resting place for generations of Romanovs, including the last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family. Dr. Logunova provided me with a private tour of the Grand Ducal Mausoleum.
It was during this tour that I took the opportunity to ask her about the popular theory that the Bolsheviks opened and robbed the graves of the Romanovs after the Revolution. "I can confirm that some of the graves were opened by the Bolsheviks, however, an inspection of these graves in 1992-93 failed to show any evidence that they had been tampered with," she said, "I can also add that there are no documents in the archives to support claims that the Bolsheviks had robbed or desecrated them." Source: A Short Summary of My December 2014 Visit to St. Petersburg