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.
Russian Imperial House Launches Complete Website Redesign Topic: Russian Imperial House
The Chancellery of the Russian Imperial House has launched a complete redesign of the official website of the House of Romanoff.
The revised bilingual (Russian and English) website lavishly illustrated with historical images and documents is a more interactive and accessible version of the old site. While all the information on the previous site appears to be available, the new organization of dropdown menus and choices makes the 2017 relaunch more accessible to supporters and other interested parties, such as academics and the press, eager for new information and scholarly materials about the Dynasty today.
The fresh site shows that the Imperial House takes 21st century communication methods with the public seriously, and has taken a big step forward.
On July 17th 1998, the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia, and their four faithful retainers Dr. Eugene Botkin, Ivan Kharitonov, Alexei Trupp and Anna Demidova were interred in the Saint Catherine Chapel of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Not only was I both privileged and honoured to attend this historic event, I was also hopeful that the burial would bring some closure to what is considered one of the greatest tragedies of 20th century Russian history. Sadly, this was not to be.
The questions raised by the murders of the Russian Imperial family, including the discovery of their remains in the vicinity of Ekaterinburg, as well as the recognition or non-recognition of their authenticity, have been unsettling both Russian and Western society for the last 25 years. Recently, many people have been looking to the Russian Orthodox Church for its verdict on the matter. But expressing an objective view requires the Church to conduct a thorough examination of the historical records as well as the investigation materials and the results of scientific enquiries.
In September of 2015, I published an article on my Royal Russia News blog announcing that the investigation into the Ekaterinburg remains had been reopened. The investigation would include a new series of genetic studies, and a comprehensive review of the evidence accumulated since 1918 into the murders of the last Russian Imperial family. With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and at his request to the Investigative Committee a new team of experts was formed. A complex examination would be carried out for the first time – a historical, anthropological and genetic one - one in which the ROC would be involved in all aspects of the investigation. Russian President Vladimir Putin consented to an a new open-ended inquiry by the Church.
More than 20 years of scientific testing, extensive theological debates, and the enormous public outcry for resolution on the issue has failed to deter the Moscow Patriarchate’s decision to resolve the issue any time soon. In early January 2016, Bishop Tikhon of Yegoryevsk noted that the “examination of the Ekaterinburg remains may take several years.” This statement was confirmed the following month during the bishops’ council of the Russian Orthodox Church, when Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia announced at the opening ceremony that “the inquiry will last as long as is necessary in order establish the truth”.
In the last six months, I have published more than 30 news stories and articles on the subject, mainly translated from Russian media sources. During that time, I have received numerous emails and telephone calls from readers frustrated by the ROC's position on the Ekaterinburg remains. The idea that the Church wanted to launch a new investigation from scratch provoked further exasperation.
With a lack of reliable information published in the Western media and social forums on the subject, much of what has been written has caused a wave of indignation towards the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Imperial House. Many Westerners felt that the ROC should have taken the findings of the original DNA and forensic tests carried out years prior at face value, simply because a team of "experts" found the remains to be authentic. As Archpriest Oleg Mitrov points out in his recent essay The Investigation Into the Deaths of the Russian Royal Family and Persons of Their Entourage (published in Royal Russia No. 9 Winter 2016, pg. 31-44), in the early 1990s, the Moscow Patriarchate suggested "a temporary burial, then completing the investigation which, once it produced indisputable results, could stop all discord that this question created in society.” Their request fell on deaf ears, "the voice of our church wasn't heard at the time,” added Mitrov.
Non Orthodox Christians must understand the position of the ROC on the matter of both relics and canonization. The Legitimist web site notes: “Any remains of the murdered Imperial Family are ipso facto religious relics, and therefore the internal procedures of the Russian Orthodox Church in completely satisfying itself of their genuineness must be followed. The Russian Orthodox Church wants to address any remaining doubts about the remains, given the fact that, once accepted by the Church as the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, they will become relics venerated by the faithful.”
Given the weight of evidence accumulated by experts in their respective fields since the early 1990s, it is highly unlikely that the Moscow Patriarchate will dispute the remains recovered from the two burial sites in Ekaterinburg between 1979 and 2007 any further. Recent statements made in the Russian media offer some hope that they are moving in that direction:
"The re-examination of the criminal case is not an attempt to reconsider the evidence received earlier and established facts, but rather represents the necessity of additionally investigating the new facts, which was requested by the Russian Orthodox Church," Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told the TASS News Agency (24 September, 2015).
Markin went on to say, "an interdepartmental working group for the study and burial of the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria gave its consent to conducting additional identification studies of the objects previously inaccessible for investigators." To this end, the investigators exhumed the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Blood samples of Emperor Alexander II, Nicholas II’s grandfather who died in a terrorist act in 1881 and whose blood stains are found on his full-dress uniform, kept in the State Hermitage Museum, have also been taken. Additional DNA samples were extracted from Emperor Alexander III in November 2015, in a bid to conclusively answer questions about the fates of Nicholas II and his family.
Markin’s statements would suggest that the Moscow Patriarchate have accepted the Ekaterinburg remains as authentic, although no official statement has yet been issued by the Church.
The Russian Orthodox Church also believe that it is necessary to continue the search for the remains of Nicholas II's children. Presumably, only a small part of the remains of Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria have been found, therefore, the search must be continued, said a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church. The investigation into the criminal case of the murder of the royal family should also include an examination of the remains found by Nikolai Sokolov in the 1920s and later transferred to St. Job’s Church in Brussels.
In the meantime, as the world awaits the final results of the new DNA and forensic studies on the Ekaterinburg remains, and the conclusion of the investigation headed by the Russian Orthodox Church into the deaths of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, further new questions are sure to arise about the fate of the remains.
Here are some further points to ponder on the fate of the Ekaterinburg remains:
in the summer of 2000, the Moscow Patriarchate canonized the Holy Royal Martyrs as Royal Passion-Bearers. The ROC’s official recognition of the Ekaterinburg remains would result in their glorification as saints to be venerated by Orthodox Christians. This will result in an elaborate glorification ceremony headed by Kirill Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. It could also mean imposing new funeral rites, in that that the relics of saints must be preserved above ground
many people are expecting that the remains of the Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister, Grand Duchess Maria will be interred with those of their family in the Saint Catherine Chapel of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. The ROC’s recognition of these remains would make this highly unlikely. Both the Saint Catherine Chapel and the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral are museums under the administration of the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg, in which visitors must pay an admission to gain entry. This is something that the Church would vehemently oppose, and rightly so
it seems highly likely that the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, Tsesarevich Alexei, and their four faithful retainers would be reinterred in another church. It is very likely that a new church would be constructed in their honour, one which would allow Orthodox Christians to enter freely to venerate the Holy relics. During the past few months, there has been some speculation in the Russian media that such a church would be constructed in Ekaterinburg, which many now consider the center of Orthodox Russia in the Urals
despite the ROC’s earlier statements that the examination and investigation may take years, it seems highly likely that the canonization and veneration of the remains of the Holy Royal Martyrs will take place around the date marking the 100th anniversary of the murder of Russia’s last Imperial family on 17 July 2018
I am very optimistic that both the examination and investigation will conclude before the 2018 centenary. At long last, the remains of all members of the last Russian Imperial family will be laid to rest together. Not only will their holy relics be venerated by the faithful, they will receive the honour which they truly deserve. Their glorification will continue to help Russia heal the wounds of the Bolshevik regicide which has haunted the nation for more than 70 years.
To review nearly 70 articles on the Ekaterinburg remains and the Holy Royal Martyrs, please click on the link below:
The Abbot of Moscow's Sretensky Monastery Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov) of Egorievsk, has announced that the Russian Orthodox Church will soon know the results of the investigation into the criminal case of the deaths of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. Bishop Tikhon, who is a member of the church investigation commission, made the announcement during the annual Diocesan Assembly of Moscow held on 22 December 2016.
"We hope that, as the work is quite voluminous and the report will be very large, that we will be able to present the results at the upcoming Synod of Bishops, sometime before June of this year’ - Bishop Tikhon said during an interview this week.
With regard to the recognition or non-recognition of the remains of the holy relics, Bishop Tikhon said that "the final conclusions will be made by the Council of Bishops, once the investigation is completed."
"The investigation has involved intense work carried out by a new team of "very professional" expert, which includes forensic scientists, criminologists, anthropologists, leading historians, and archivists," - he noted.
"The team of experts have made a number of new discoveries, fundamentally important to the overall investigation into the deaths of the Holy Royal Martyrs and the Ekaterinburg remains. Since the case is not yet closed, we are not at liberty to disclose the details of the investigation at this time," - Bishop Tikhon concluded.
Since March 2012, I have published nearly 70 articles on this blog about the Holy Royal Martyrs and the Ekaterinburg remains. Click on the link below to review:
SOVEREIGN. Buy All 3 Issues and Save on Shipping! Topic: Books
Sovereign is a unique periodical dedicated to the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II. Now published twice a year, each issue offers new, previously unpublished articles, including first-English translations of works by Russian historians and experts.
Canada Post charge $12.00 Canadian dollars to mail a single issue of Sovereign to the United States. You can save $11.00 Canadian dollars when you order all three issues!
Three issues of Sovereign have been published to date: No. 1 (published December 2015); No. 2 (published May 2016); and No. 3 (due at the end of December 2016). Combined, these three issues offer a total of 435 pages, featuring 22 full-length articles, news and more than 300 black-and-white photographs and illustrations.
NOTE: this offer is valid for customers in the United States only. For all other countries (including Canada), please contact our office for rates to your respective city/province/country.
Visit the Royal Russia Bookshop to reviews the contents of each issue, and to order your set of 3 issues of Sovereign: