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Wednesday, 17 September 2014
The Head of the Russian Imperial House Expresses Condolences on the Passing of Nicholas Romanovich Romanoff
Topic: Maria Vladimirovna GD

Head of the Russian Imperial House, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
The Chancellery of the Russian Imperial House has issued a statement on the passing of Nicholas Romanovich Romanov, the oldest descendant of the Romanov Dynasty, who died on September 14th in Tuscany, Italy at the age of 92.

Alexander Zakatov, the Director of the Chancellery of the House of Romanov, told RIA Novosti earlier this week that the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, has already expressed her condolences to the family and relatives of Nicholas Romanovich and asks everyone to pray for his soul.

The following statement was issued by the Chancellery in Moscow, on Monday:

It is with deep regret that the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House has learned of the death in Tuscany (Italy) on September 14, 2014, of the oldest living relative of the Russian Imperial House, Nicholas Romanovich Romanoff. He was 92 years old.

Nicholas Romanoff was born on September 26, 1922, in Antibes (France). He was the son of His Highness Prince of the Imperial Blood Roman Petrovich (1896-1978) and his morganatic wife, Countess Praskovia Dmitrievna Sheremetev (1901-1980).

The Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, and her son and Heir, H.I.H. The Tsesarevich and Grand Duke George of Russia, are deeply saddened by the passing of Nicholas Romanoff and ask all their countrymen to join them in praying for the repose of the soul of the newly-departed Nicholas.

In his interview with RIA Novosti, Zakatov noted that "Nicholas Romanovich Romanov provided charitable assistance in Russia. Together with his brother - Dmitri, Nicholas created The Romanov Fund for Russia, whose activity has always been appreciated by Her Imperial Highness. Sometimes," Zakatov continued, "he [Nicholas Romanov] made statements on different issues of public concern or about Russian history or, the history of the House of Romanov, which, to tell the truth, did not always correspond with the official position of the Russian Imperial House. But, as a private individual, Romanov was, of course, entitled to his own opinion." 

Zakatov added that even though Her Imperial Highness sometimes had disagreements with Nicholas Romanov, she never stopped "treating him as a relative, with love and respect."

Nicholas Romanov was the great-great grandson of Nicholas I, the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855. Nicholas Romanovich was born in 1922 in France, and had three daughters, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He spent his final years living in Switzerland and Italy. The charitable fund - created by Nicholas Romanov, provides help for orphanages and hospitals in Russia and the CIS. 
Sources: Russian Imperial House, RIA Novosti 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:04 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 September 2014 12:10 PM EDT
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Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna Honoured Near Moscow
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 4 minutes, 6 seconds
Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD
The video (in Russian) shows the procession from Ilyinskoe to Usovo, near Moscow on September 14th, 2014
Orthodox Christians took part in a religious procession near Moscow this week honouring the charitable work of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna. The event was organized by the Elisabeth-Sergievskoe Educational Society. This year’s memorial procession marked the 150th anniversary of the Grand Duchess’s birth in 1864. 

The sister of the last Russian empress is remembered for her numerous charitable works in Russia, particularly in Moscow, where she founded the Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy, the construction of shelters and maternity homes, and helping the needy.

On September 14th, bell ringing heralded the beginning of the procession from the Church of the Prophet Elijah at Ilyinskoe. It was here 130 years ago, that Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria attended her first Divine Liturgy. Hundreds of believers took part in the procession honouring the memory of the Grand Duchess. The three kilometre procession route began at Ilyinskoe and ended at Usovo, which in 1882, became the property of the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. The drizzling rain, wet grass, and potholes did not deter the faithful.

The route of the procession took the faithful to the banks of the Moscow River at Ilyinskoe, which once housed the estate of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and his wife Elizabeth Feodorovna. From here, members of the procession boarded rafts which took them across to the other side where the grand ducal couple’s manor house once stood. It was here that they spent their summer months while Grand Duke Sergei served as Governor General of Moscow. 

Now in its third year, the memorial procession honouring the Grand Duchess attracts a growing number of believers each year. They believe it is important to visit these places to help them learn about the life of the Grand Duchess, in whose heart was filled with compassion for others. "And, of course, here in the middle of the river you can cleanse your soul, and pray for mercy," said one of the parishioners.

Monument to Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna at Usovo
"At Ilyinskoe estate the grand ducal couple shared the best years of married life - almost 20 years, before the assassination of the Grand Duke Sergei in 1905. Studying the life of the grand-ducal couple, we are surprised by their faith and service to others. It is interesting to note that seven buildings associated with the charitable activities of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth have been preserved from the original estate at Ilyinskoe,"- said Anna Gromov, Chairman of the Supervisory Fund of the Elisabeth-Sergievskoe Educational Society..

At Ilyinskoe, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth founded a maternity hospital, schools, and a hospital for wounded soldiers of the Russo-Japanese War. After her husband, the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was assassinated in 1905 at the hands of terrorists, Elizabeth devoted himself entirely to the service of the people. 

In Moscow, she founded the Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy, where she established a hospital, and a free pharmacy. Today, the convent continues the work of the Grand Duchess, which includes a gymnasium, children's home, garden for children with disabilities. Visitors are welcome, and local parishioners come to help those less fortunate.

The desire to help others was something that Grand Duchess Elizabeth carried throughout her life, right up until her last breath. In 1918, at Apapaevsk, near Yekaterinburg she and the other representatives of the Romanov dynasty were thrown into a pit and left to die. Elizabeth Feodorovna spent the final hours of her life trying to help her wounded relatives. The Holy Royal Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth’s faith and courage are today shared by many Orthodox Christians in Russia and around the world.

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna was martyred by the Bolsheviks in 1918. She was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in 1981, and by the Russian Orthodox Church as a whole in 1992 as New-Martyr Elizabeth. 

Orthodox Christians carry framed photographs of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and her husband,
Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich during the procession from Ilyinskoe to Usovo
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:54 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 September 2014 7:49 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 16 September 2014
The Mystery of the Tsar Cannon in Moscow's Kremlin
Topic: Kremlin

Copyright Notice: The following article was published in the September 15th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Alexander Vershinin, owns the copyright of the condensed version presented below.

The enormous cannon standing in the grounds of the Kremlin is one of the best-known symbols of the fortress. The world’s largest bore howitzer, it is also a masterpiece of medieval gun casting. But according to legend, the cannon has never actually been fired – or has it?

Standing in a central spot inside the Kremlin walls, a giant ornate cannon has long symbolized the Russian capital, its sheer size and presence spellbinding visitors. Few guns can measure up in weight and there is no larger bore howitzer in the world. 

Almost a meter in diameter, the cannon balls lying beneath the muzzle testify to the unimaginable force of this ancient weapon that still guards its secrets. 

Beyond its proportions, the 40-ton behemoth called the Tsar Cannon is also a remarkable example of fine medieval gun casting and the embodiment of six centuries of Russian artillery technology.

The first cannons appeared in Russia earlier than in most of Europe, built with knowledge acquired from the Tatars, who themselves mastered the gunsmith’s art from the Chinese in the 13th century. 

One story has it that the first Russian gun-maker was a Tatar called As (Ace) who was captured during the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380. Two years later, the attacking forces of the Tatar khan Tokhtamysh were beaten back by sophisticated guns mounted on the Kremlin walls. 

Russia did not lag far behind its European neighbors in gunnery development. By the end of the 15th century, Russian artillery forces comprised several hundred guns, with 55 of these set on the walls of the fortress of Novgorod. 

Characterized by ever greater numbers and quality, this artillery boom occurred during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. In 1552, just one Russian army besieging Kazan fielded 150 guns, and Russian cannons also went on to shatter the walls of Lithuanian, Polish, German and Swedish cities.

By the end of the 16th century, Russian cannon masters had consolidated their reputation as among the world’s best. They not only built and maintained one of Europe’s largest artillery arsenals but devised models of weapons with no parallel in the West.

It was under Ivan the Terrible that gunsmiths first added grooves to the interior walls of barrels - an early step towards spiralled rifling that appeared in the 19th century. Oblong shells, fixed front and rear sights, and breech loading systems are all innovations by Russian cannon masters who were way ahead of the times. 

Medieval Russian chronicles document a number of prolific gun casters, the most famous of these being Andrei Chokhov, who made the Tsar Cannon in 1586. Conceived as the greatest menace of its time, the five-meter-long monster was designed to hurl 89 cm-wide stone cannonballs weighing almost a ton over a kilometre (0.6 miles).

It was supposed to stand on the Kremlin wall for the defense of Moscow but proved too large to anchor firmly. For more than a century Chokhov’s creation stood on Red Square near St. Basil’s Cathedral, and was only moved into the Kremlin in the 18th century. 

In the early 19th century the Tsar Cannon attracted the attention of historians due to its immense size and barrel cast with equestrian reliefs of Tsar Fyodor, crown and scepter in hand. As one of two surviving portraits made of the son of Ivan the Terrible in his lifetime, the ornate depiction also inspired the gun’s name. 

Kremlin architects set the piece on a gun carriage and, for added effect, placed several large cannon balls under its muzzle. These were pure invention, however, since firing metal rounds would have wrecked a medieval weapon of this caliber.

It is also precisely because of its size that the Tsar Cannon was for a long time thought to never have been fired. But in the late 20th century expert analysis revealed that it had thundered at least once. 

Some historians believe that the cannon was used on May 27, 1606, to shoot and disperse the ashes of ‘False Dmitry’, a usurper who seized the throne while pretending to be Ivan the Terrible’s son. 

True or not, the Tsar Cannon is one of the few remaining examples of traditional Russian cannon casting. If its immense size rendered it impractical as a weapon, these dimensions also prompted Peter the Great to spare it when he smelted down the entire Kremlin artillery arsenal to rebuild it along European lines. 

Two mortars also survived this technological purge and are now exhibited in St. Petersburg. And coincidentally or not, these were also made by Andrei Chokhov. 
© Alexander Vershinin / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 16 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:27 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 September 2014 6:31 AM EDT
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Monday, 15 September 2014
Nicholas Romanovich Romanov (1922-2014)
Topic: Nicholas Romanovich

Nicholas Romanovich Romanov, 1922-2014
The Russian news media have reported this morning that Nicholas Romanovich Romanov has died at the age of 92. He passed away yesterday at his estate in Tuscany, surrounded by members of his family. "This is a huge loss for us," - his younger brother, Dimitri Romanovich told ITAR-TASS, adding that it has not yet been decided where his brother will be buried.

Nicholas Romanovich belonged to the Nikolaevichi branch of the Russian Imperial Family which was founded by his great-great-grandfather, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (1831-1891), the third son of Emperor Nicholas I. 

Nicholas Romanovich was born in Antibes, in the south of France on September 26, 1922. His father, Roman Petrovich (1896-1978) - Prince of the Imperial Blood, was a second cousin of the last emperor. His mother, Countess Praskovia Sheremeteva - was the daughter of Count Dimitri Sheremetev, a childhood friend and adjutant of Nicholas II. 

His grandparents were Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich of Russia (1864-1931) and his wife Grand Duchess Militza Nikolaevna (nee Princess Milica of Montenegro). They escaped Russia in 1919 aboard the British battleship, HMS Marlborough, along with other members of the Russian Imperial family, including the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. 

After the family moved to Rome in the pre-war years, he entered the classical department of the Lyceum. In 1942, the nineteen-year-old Nicholas Romanovich rejected a proposal of the fascist government of Italy to become the king of occupied Montenegro. From July 1944, he worked in organizations engaged in military actions against the Nazi propaganda.

After the war, the family settled in Egypt, and then returned to Europe. In January 1952 he married Countess Sveva della Gherardesca, heiress of the ducal family. Nicholas and his wife lived in Rougemont, Switzerland, for seven months every year, usually in the winter. During the rest of the year they stayed at their estate in Tuscany. The couple had three daughters: Natalia, Elizaveta and Tatiana. 

In July 1998, he participated in the funeral ceremony in the Peter and Paul Cathedral of the remains of Nicholas II and his family. It was during this historic event that I had my one and only opportunity of meeting Nicholas Romanovich in person. We were introduced in the lobby of the Hotel Astoria and chatted briefly. He was very cordial, and I still recall his kind eyes and enigmatic smile.

In 1979, the Romanov Family Association was officially formed with Prince Dmitri Alexandrovich as president and Nicholas as vice-president. When Vasili Alexandrovich became president in 1980, Nicholas remained vice-president. In 1989, after the death of Vasili Alexandrovich, Prince Nicholas was elected the new president of the Romanov Family Association. As a charitable endeavour, the association operates the Romanov Fund for Russia to raise money for aid projects in Russia.

The Romanov Family Association should not be confused with the Russian Imperial House, of which HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna is the current head. Some years back, Nicholas Romanovich told a St. Petersburg journalist that he was a republican, and did not support a restoration of monarchy in Russia.

On behalf of thousands of Royal Russia friends, supporters and followers around the world, I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest condolences and prayers to Nicholas Romanovich’s wife, daughters, and other family members for their loss.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia and ITAR-TASS. 15 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:08 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 15 September 2014 11:32 AM EDT
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Topic: Royal Russia


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:31 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 15 September 2014 7:41 AM EDT
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Saturday, 13 September 2014
A Russian Moment No. 47 - The Beauty of Imperial St. Petersburg
Topic: A Russian Moment

Photo © Dmitry Lovetsky
My first visit to St. Petersburg was back in 1986, when it was still known as Leningrad. Since that time I have returned year after year, witnessing the transformation of a once gray and dreary Soviet metropolis into an elegant imperial city. Today, St. Petersburg ranks as one of the world’s most beautiful cities. It’s rich history and architecture make it a photographer’s dream! The photograph in this week’s A Russian Moment is a perfect example of how easily a person can fall in love with this city.

The full moon is seen rising in the sky above the domes of the Smolny Cathedral on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Monday night's full moon, also known as a Harvest Moon, was the third and final "supermoon" of 2014. The phenomenon, which scientists call a "perigee moon," occurs when the moon is near the horizon and appears larger and brighter than other full moons. One of St. Petersburg landmarks, the Smolny Convent's main church was built between 1748 and 1764 by Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. In 2004, the Smolny Cathedral became part of the State Museum St Isaac’s Cathedral. In April 2013, an announcement was made that the Smolny Cathedral would be returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 13 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:42 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 13 September 2014 1:47 PM EDT
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Friday, 12 September 2014
Grand Duchess Olga Nicholayevna's Kokoshnik Returned to the Alexander Palace
Topic: OTMA

The 1913 kokoshnik of Grand Duchess Olga Nicholayevna
Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve 
A beautiful peach-coloured kokoshnik presented to Grand Duchess Olga Nicholayevna, the eldest daughter of Emperor Nicholas II in 1913 has been returned to the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. Formed in the shape of a crown, it contains semi-precious stones and ornate embroidery, including an image of the double-headed imperial eagle at its center.

The kokoshnik was one of four made for the daughters of Emperor Nicholas II. Two of them - for the Grand Duchesses Olga and Maria - were sold abroad - presumably in the 1930s. The other two belonging to the Grand Duchesses Tatiana and Anastasia, were evacuated during the Great Patriotic War. Both have survived and are now part of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum collection.

This story is unique because it even has a connection to Royal Russia!

To read the full article published on Royal Russia News, and view the colour photos and video (in Russian), please click on the link below:

Grand Duchess Olga Nicholayevna’s Kokoshnik Returned to the Alexander Palace 


© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia / Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. 12 August, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:18 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 12 September 2014 12:26 PM EDT
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Peterhof Continues to Ponder Future of Lower Dacha
Topic: Peterhof

Early 20th-century watercolour shows the Lower Dacha, located on the shores of the Gulf of Finland
The Peterhof State Museum-Reserve are now considering three options for the reconstruction of the Lower Dacha of Emperor Nicholas II. The ruins of the former Peterhof residence of the last Russian tsar and his family are situated on the shore of the Gulf of Finland in the Alexandria Park. It was here in August 1914, that the Emperor signed the Manifesto of Russia's entry into the First World War.

As reported during a press conference this week, Peterhof State Museum Director, Elena Kalnitskaya, noted that experts from a local research institute have suggested three options for consideration on the ruins of the Lower Dacha, demolished in the 1960s by the Soviets: (a) preservation of the ruins, (b) the full or (c) partial reconstruction of the villa.

Kalnitskaya explained that she was leaning towards a partial restoration project, but would discuss all three options with the Ministry of Culture. Kalnitskaya's option would see a reconstruction of the facade. This will allow visitors a three-dimensional perspective of what the Lower Dacha looked like in the early twentieth century, she explained. Future plans would see the implementation of a cultural centre for temporary museum exhibitions, concerts and lectures. Kalnitskaya expressed hope that the funds to begin work on the reconstruction of the Lower Dacha would be allocated by the end of the year. 

In 2012-13 the Department of Archaeology, Institute of History of Material Culture conducted studies of the Lower Dacha. Excavations were carried out in which the location of the lost kitchen and service buildings were identified. A total of 245 finds were made during the excavations.

The Lower Dacha was built in the Alexandria Park in the 1880s by the architect A. Tomishko. It was intended as a residence for the heir to the throne, the future Emperor Nicholas II. The building was designed in the style of an Italian villa, decorated with a tall tower with an observation deck. The majority of the interiors were created by F. Meltzer. Ten years later, the same architect reconstructed the building, enlarging and transforming the dacha into a summer palace for the emperor and his growing family. Empress Alexandra Feodorovna gave birth to four of their five children at the Lower Dacha – Tatiana (1897), Maria (1899), Anastasia (1901) and Alexis (1904). 

During the Soviet years, the Lower Dacha was first turned into a museum, then as a rest house for members of the NKVD (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs). The building was badly damaged during the Second World War, it was blown up in 1961, the ruins have survived to this day.

During my many visits to Peterhof over the years, I have always made a point of visiting the ruins of the Lower Dacha. There are no signs in the Alexandria Park, one must consult a map in order to locate them on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, which is a short walk from the Cottage Palace. The ruins are becoming harder and harder to view from the path. A large black iron fence now surrounds it, and the ruins are slowly being swallowed up by a severe overgrowth of weeds and other vegetation. Along the path are two small acrylic signs - one in Russian, the other in English - which tell passersby that the ruins are all that is left of the summer residence of Nicholas II at Peterhof.
Some years back - before the fence was erected - I had an opportunity to walk amongst the ruins and photograph what was left of the Lower Dacha. It was heartbreaking to witness, especially after viewing vintage photographs of Nicholas II and his children during happier times. It is interesting to note that even these ruins have not failed to attract the interest of local graffitti artists, many of whom have left their mark on this historic place. One act of vandalism still haunts me to this day: “Welcome to hell” spray painted in English over a collapsed entry way. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 12 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:15 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 12 September 2014 5:23 AM EDT
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Thursday, 11 September 2014
Haunted St. Petersburg: Intrigue, Ghosts and Murder
Topic: St. Petersburg

Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published under it's original title: 5 most haunting places in St Petersburg in the September 6th, 2013 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Dmitry Sevastianov, owns the copyright of the condensed version presented below.
The draw of Russia's northern capital lies as much in its tales of intrigue, ghosts and murder as in the architectural marvels on Nevsky Prospekt.

Every day hundreds of tourists visit the Yusupov museum to see the famous rooms of Felix Yusupov, where the murder of Rasputin took place. But the sombre history of the Northern Capital began long before the murder of Grigory Rasputin.

Mikhailovsky Castle. 1801. The Murder of Emperor Paul I

One of the most ominous palaces in the centre of St. Petersburg is without question Mikhailovsky Castle, also known as the Engineers Castle. Paul I built it for himself as an impenetrable sanctuary, but from the moment it was built it was doomed to become the place he would spend his final moments. Subsequent modifications to the space in front of the castle make it difficult to conceive just how serious the fortifications once were. Back in the reign of Paul I, Connetable Square, the area where the monument of Peter I now stands, was completely surrounded by a moat and bailey with cannons standing sentinel on drawbridges.

Despite the moats, ramparts and guards, there was never any doubt about Paul’s fate – even the castle guards were in on the plot. The chief guard, a man called Argamakov, led the conspirators directly to Paul’s bedroom. The conspirators claimed they merely acting out of concern for the country’s fate, given that the emperor was insane, and they were in fact a group of high dignitaries: among them were general governor of St. Petersburg Peter Pahlen, Vice-Chancellor Nikita Panin, the Zubov brothers (one of whom was Platon Zubov - the last favourite of Catherine II), commanders of four guard troops, and a number of high ranking officers. It is generally thought that the son of the victim, future emperor Alexander I, knew of the plot and had given his approval, either voluntary or under duress. Alexander’s part in his father’s murder was something that haunted him for the rest of his life.

It was never the plotters intention to kill the tsar, they just wanted to remove him from power. But, as memoirists recall, “the fateful catastrophe happened unexpectedly”. Paul hid himself, but the perpetrators found him and tried to arrest him. A struggle ensued before Nikolai Zubov issued the first blow with a golden tobacco box. One version claims Pavel was immediately killed by this blow to the temple, but others say he was beaten to a pulp before being strangled with a silk scarf. Officially it was announced that the tsar had “died of a stroke”.

Paul only managed to live forty days in the Mikhailovsky Castle. Several times before he died he claimed he saw himself reflected in a mirror, strangled with a collapsed neck, and in these moments he would experience an unexplainable shortness of breath.

Cathedral of the Spilled Blood. 1881. Murder of Emperor Alexander II

The grand, elegant structure of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood - built in traditional Russian style to emulate St. Basil's Cathedral at Red Square –stands in sharp contrast to the sad event it was built to commemorate.

There were no obvious motives for the tsar’s assassination. Alexander II was neither a tyrant, like his father and his grandfather, nor was he a weak ruler, like his son and grandson. His official title as ‘the giver of freedom’ was well deserved – he was the ruler who finally abolished serfdom in Russia. But the assassins were brutally determined; first they attempted shooting him while he was out walking, then they attempted to blow him up in his own palace and on a train, without a seconds thought about the collateral victims.

On 1 March Alexander II was on his way back to the Winter Palace. The first explosion did nothing more than damage his carriage. When the tsar got out to confront Nikolai Rusakov, who had thrown the bomb, a second terrorist, Ignaty Grinevetsky, hurled another bomb at the tsar’s feet.

The exact place where the tsar was mortally wounded – part of the railings and the cobble stone pavement – has been preserved inside the cathedral, under the western cupola. For a long time the neighbouring streets (now Malaya and Bolshaya Konyushennaya Streets) were named after the main participants in the plot - Sofia Perovskaya and Andrei Zhelyabov.

Yusupov Palace. 1916. The Murder of Rasputin

This infamous Petersburg crime happened on 17 (29) December 1916 at the Yusupov residence on the Moika river . It actually began inside the historic palace in the lavish rooms of Felix Yusupov. The conspirators acted to save the country and protect the tsar and his family from the influence of this mysterious peasant-monk.

The circumstances surrounding his death are well known: Rasputin was invited to the Yusupovs’ house on the pretext of meeting Felix’s wife. Here he was fed almond cakes laced with potassium cyanide. When this didn’t work the plotters sprayed him with dozens of bullets, but the seemingly invincible Grigory Rasputin still managed to run across the yard and climb over the fence. After this he was finally caught, seized and drowned in the icy Malaya Nevka River near Kamenny Island.

His body was found shortly after due to the trail of blood leading from the bridge, and divers retrieved him from beneath the ice. His embalmed corpse was secretly buried in the private Aleksandrovsky Park at Tsarkoe Selo, on the site of the Seraphim Sarovsky Cathedral that was then under construction. Just one year later revolutionary soldiers found the grave and his body was destroyed - incinerated in the furnace of a boiler at the Polytechnic Institute. His ashes were scattered to the wind.

In 2005 an inscribed cross was placed at Rasputin’s first burial location at Tsarskoe Selo.

The Yusupov Palace hosts a permanent exhibition entitled “Rasputin. Myth and Reality”, and in the painstakingly-restored reception rooms it is possible to attend concerts and dances where, dressed in tails or a floor-length dress, you can feel like a real member of pre-revolutionary high-society. Alternatively there are hourly tours of the palace every day from 11am. One of the tours will take you through every stage of Rasputin’s murder. 
© Dmitry Sevastianov / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 11 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:49 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 11 September 2014 7:49 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 10 September 2014
More Than $3 Million Allocated from Repairs of Revolutionary Aurora Cruiser
Topic: World War I

The crusier Aurora - once the pride of the Imperial Russian Navy
More than $3.3 million have been allocated for the repairs of the Aurora cruiser -a symbol of the 1917 socialist revolution in Russia. Now, the ship that has been harbouring in St. Petersburg, is a branch of the Central Naval Museum, ITAR-TASS reports.

The Aurora is not planned to sail to the docks unaided; an operation to bring the ship to a shipyard for repairs will be launched on September 21, when the Aurora with the support of four tow ships will move off its customary mooring berth and head for the docks.

The repairs are planned to continue for around 1.5 years. The Aurora is going to have its hull cleaned and painted anew; the interior of the ship will be restored to resemble its historical image as much as possible. Parts of the ship's hull and mechanisms of historical value that survived to the present day will be left intact, press service Chief of Russia's Western Military District Oleg Kochetkov told ITAR-TASS. But, new systems ensuring safe mooring, fire prevention and monitoring will be established on board, Kochetkov said. 

The Aurora was first used as a war ship in the Battle of Tsushima during the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese war. During WWI it took part in military operations in the Baltic area. But the ship went down in world history after it fired a historic cannon shot in St. Petersburg in 1917 which heralded the beginning of the 1917 October armed uprising followed by a storm of the emperor's Winter Palace in St. Petersburg.

After the socialist revolution the Aurora was used as a training ship. During WWII the Aurora crews fought against Nazis who besieged Leningrad. In 1948 the ship was moored at the Petrograd embankment on the Neva. It had been used since as a training base of the Nakhimov naval school until 1956 when the ship was turned into a museum. 
© The Russkiy Mir Foundation. 10 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:28 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 11 September 2014 6:33 AM EDT
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