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Monday, 20 August 2012
New Romanov Evidence Can be Studied Without Reopening Investigation
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs


The Russian Investigations Committee currently does not see any reason to resume the investigation into the murders of Nicholas II and his family based on the materials collected by White Guard investigator Nikolay Sokolov which were recently discovered in a Brussels church.

"There will probably be no initiatives from us to resume the criminal case. If the church files a request, we will decide what to do," Vladimir Solovyov, senior investigator with the Main Criminalistics Department of the Investigations Committee who investigated the case involving the killing of the tsar's family, told Interfax on Monday.

"We don't know for sure yet what has been found in Brussels," Solovyov said.

"We have no position that a criminal case will not be opened. Everything depends on what has been found. However, it's no longer 1992, when we did not have any evidence. Since then a lot of tests have been performed, so any new evidence which will prove that the remains are those of the tsar's family are unlikely to provide us with anything new," Solovyov said.

"We have no doubt that the remains are those of the tsar's family. As to the materials found in Brussels, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia have not asked the Investigations Committee to perform additional studies. Such studies can be performed without opening a criminal case," Solovyov said.

According to earlier reports, materials by investigator Sokolov, who investigated the killing of Russia's last Tsar Nicholas II and his family on the orders of Admiral Kolchak in 1919, were found during the reconstruction of the Church of Job the Long-Suffering in Brussels.

Representatives of the Romanov family said a study of the Brussels materials is likely to yield evidence on the issue of the authenticity of the tsar's family remains.

In January 2011, the Investigations Committee completed the investigation into the criminal case involving the killing of Nicholas II's family, recognizing the remains found near Yekaterinburg as those of the tsar's family.

The Russian Orthodox Church and the Romanov family have not recognized the remains as those of the tsar's family.

In late July 2012, it became known that the Moscow patriarchate may reconsider its stance on the "Yekaterinburg remains." Patriarch Krill told the Holy Synod in Kyiv that important information on the circumstances of the death of the tsar's family had been received from New York, where the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia is located.

The Romanov family said it will accept the position of the Russian Orthodox Church on the issue of the remains of Russia's last emperor.

© Interfax and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:48 AM EDT
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Sunday, 19 August 2012
Search Continues for Remains of Red Terror Victims at Peter and Paul Fortress
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 53 seconds
Topic: Bolsheviks

The search for the victims of the “red terror”, begun in the Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Petersburg, during the summer of 2010 will now continue, reports Vodye Zhivoi (To the Living Waters), an organization under the auspices of Vice Governor Vasily Kichedzi of Leningrad Province.

Money for the work will be provided by the State Historical Museum of St. Petersburg.

DNA testing will also be financed in order to identify the discovered remains. The goal is to find and identify all the victims of the mass repression that took place in the former Russian capital during the years just after the Bolshevik revolution. The victims’ remains will then be given over to the earth with a solemn burial service.

In 2009, during construction work on Zayachy Island, the buried remains of prisoners executed by the Cheka from 1917–1921 were discovered. Among those who were innocently put to death in 1919 were Grand Dukes Pavel Alexandrovich, Dimitry Constantinovich, Nicholas and George Mikhailovich (three of whom were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in 1981). The excavation continued through the summer of 2010, and the remains of over 100 people were exhumed. Tsarist Army officer’s caps were found, along with boots, sailor’s ribbons, baptismal crosses, medals, miniature icons, and fragments of soldier’s blouses and jackets.

Now that financing has again been found, another 1700 square meters have yet to be excavated in addition to the 1000 completed in 2010.

© Pravoslavie.Ru. 19 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:02 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 19 August 2012 7:54 PM EDT
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Saturday, 18 August 2012
Exhibition With a Century-Old History
Topic: Exhibitions


The former Lenin Museum will house the new Museum of the 1812 Russian-French War 

The museum of the 1812 Russian-French War, which was recently built in Moscow, is preparing to open in September, when the main festivities devoted to 200 years since Russia’s victory in that war will take place.

In fact, such a museum might have opened already a century ago, in 1912, when Russia was celebrating 100 years since the victory. At that time, initiators of the museum collected items, which had to do with the 1812 war, all over Russia – documents, personal things of the war’s participants and so on.

“In 1912, these items were shown at a large preliminary exhibition in the Moscow Historic Museum,” the current director of this museum Alexey Levykin narrates. “Emperor Nicholas II himself visited this exhibition.”

“It looked like only one step was left for a museum of the 1812 war to open in Russia,” Mr. Levykin says. “But then, the First World War broke out, which was followed by the 1917 revolution, and later, the Second World War. The idea of the museum was altogether forgotten. It looked like there remained no chances that it would ever come into being.”

However, before the 200th anniversary of the victory of 1812, another attempt of opening the museum was taken – this time, successful. It took only one year to build a new facility for this museum. The two-storey building is situated in the inner yard of the the *Historic Museum (former Lenin Museum and Moscow Duma), near the Red Square. “Hidden” in the yard, it is unseen from the outside, so the traditional look of the historic center of Moscow has not changed at all.

The new museum’s exposition includes such rare exhibits as a military uniform of Emperor Alexander I, who ruled Russia during the 1812 war, a set of pistols which Napoleon once presented to one of his generals (at that time, Napoleon has not proclaimed himself an emperor yet, but occupied the post of the First Chancellor of the French Republic) and a sword which used to belong to Napoleon himself. By an irony of fate, after the 1917 revolution, this sword somehow came to belong to a man who served in the Red Army and fought against opponents of the Bolshevik regime.

Among the other exhibits, there are personal items of soldiers and generals, both Russian and French, who took part in that war, and documents of the wartime, including orders signed by Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, who commanded the Russian army during the 1812 war.

In total, the exhibition counts about 2,000 items. All of them were presented at the exhibition in the Historic Museum in 1912, and all were represented in a catalogue of that time, now a rarity, that will also be presented at the exhibition which is due to open soon.

Note: The building was originally constructed in 1887 by the architect Dmitry Chichagov. It served as the Moscow City Duma (City Hall) up until 1917. After the Revolution, the duma was disbanded and the building was handed over to the Lenin Museum. Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Lenin Museum was closed due to the lack of visitors. The building was handed over to the State Historical Museum. - PG

© The Voice of Russia. 18 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:53 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 19 August 2012 7:06 AM EDT
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Friday, 17 August 2012
ROCOR Refuses Research on Royal Remains
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs


The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) has categorically refused to hand over the recently-found fragments of the remains of the tsar family for laboratory research.

The remains were found not long ago during restoration at the St. Job's Russian Church in Brussels.

"The remains must on no account be subject to any manipulation. They are only for reverential prayers by the faithful," ROCOR, the Western European diocese of Russian Orthodox Church, said in a statement that reached Interfax-Religion.

During a session of the Holy Synod in Kiev in late July, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said that important news had come from New York, ROCOR's spiritual center, which had to do with the circumstances surrounding the death of the tsar and his family.

"These circumstances will, I believe, help us define our position on the issue of the so-called 'Yekaterinburg remains'", the Patriarch said.

Later, Alexander Zakatov, Director of the Chancellery of the House of Romanov, announced that lead cylinders containing earth from the Ganina Yama pit, where the bodies of the tsar and his family had been burnt, mixed with lipids excreted during the burning. There was an explanatory note in one of the cylinders.

"This is genetic material for new research," Zakatov said.

ROCOR said that the above remains, a small part of those discovered immediately after the beastly execution in Yekaterinburg, had been handed over by investigator Nikolay Sokolov to Prince Shirinsky-Shikhmatov in 1920. Two decades later, they were solemnly handed over to ROCOR head Metropolitan Serafim and in 1950 were transferred to St. Job's Church.

"We declare with all our responsibility that the document found during the restoration work is not new to us. There is a photo copy of it in the church's archives. Our church hierarchs have long been familiar with it Its contents have repeatedly been published," ROCOR said.

The cylinders, intact, were re-immured in the church along with the note which was enclosed into a new glass tube.

© Interfax. 17 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:20 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 19 August 2012 7:07 AM EDT
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Vintage Photo of Nicholas II No. 9
Topic: Nicholas II


The consecration of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas (the Naval Cathedral) at Kronstadt on June 10th, 1913 was attended by Emperor Nicholas II and his daughters, the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 18 August 2012 12:20 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Russian Imperial Air Service
Topic: Imperial Russia


Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (1866-1933) 

Established under the Romanov dynasty, the Russian air force marks its 100th anniversary this year. In 1912, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich Romanov declared: “The Russian air force should be stronger than that of our neighbors. This should be remembered by everyone to whom the military might of our Motherland is dear.” Aviation schools were opened in Sevastopol and Gatchina. A summer training course for volunteer officers from various branches of the armed forces was set up in these schools, and the trainees were instructed in theoretical disciplines at the St. Petersburg Polytechnical Institute.

The best Russian minds were drawn into aviation, and significant capital began to be invested in its development. In July 1914, the world’s first four-engine aircraft flew from St. Petersburg to Kiev and back, piloted by aircraft designer Igor Sikorsky.

By the beginning of World War I, the Russian army had 256 warplanes and 250 military pilots, from which 39 corps and fortress squadrons were formed. When military operations started, the aircraft were mainly engaged in carrying out airborne intelligence and correcting artillery fire. The pilots began to shoot down and ram enemy Albatross planes in the air on their own initiative. In December 1914, the world’s first squadron of heavy aircraft was set up by the Russian air force using Muromets planes.

In 1916, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich was appointed field inspector-general of the air force. Under his leadership, the separate corps and field aviation units were joined together in air combat groups. The tsar’s headquarters in Mogilev and St. Petersburg began to be protected from air strikes by planes and anti-aircraft artillery, and the rear support for the air force supplied it with everything it needed.

Sadly, the accomplishments of Russian aviation during the Great War were often forgotten in the subsequent chaos of the Russian Revolution and Civil War.

© Rossiskaya Gazeta. 15 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:47 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 19 August 2012 7:11 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Tsarskoye Selos' Gostiny Dvor to be Auctioned
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


Gostiny Dvor in Tsarskoye Selo as it looked in the early 20th century 

One of the greatest architectural treasures of Russian retailing is being put up for auction. The neoclassical Gostiny Dvor shopping complex in the town of Pushkin is ‘little brother’ to another in St Petersburg. The starting price is $7.7 million.

­At 10,000 square feet this is no mega-mall. It was built in 1866 during the reign of Emperor Alexander II, and houses thirteen shop units.

The town of Pushkin is also home to the former residence of the imperial family, the Tsarskoye Selo is a protected UNESCO site. 

The new owner of the mall will have to agree to preserve the historical nature of the building.

Gostiny Dvor is the Russian version of a department store, with a selection of individual stores occupying separate sections of the building.  

In the 19th Century, they were constructed in every large Russian town with St Petersburg’s Gostiny Dvor one of the first shopping arcades in the world.

© Russia Today. 14 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:10 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2012 11:18 AM EDT
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The Russian Imperial Family in Denmark, 1899
Now Playing: Language: NA. Duration: 1 minute, 26 seconds
Topic: Nicholas II

Members of the Russian Imperial family join members of the Danish, Greek and British royal houses at Bernstoff Castle, Denmark in 1899.

This rare vintage film clip shows Emperor Nicholas II, relaxed in civilian attire enjoying himself immensely with other members of his family and his royal relations. We even see the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna laughing while standing next to her smiling mother-in-law, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna.

The newsreel was filmed by Peter Elfelt, who was appointed Royal Court Photographer to the Danish Royal family in 1901. During his career he produced more than 200 films and newsreels, including many about the Danish Royal family.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 14 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:29 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2012 7:00 AM EDT
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Faberge Siberian Aquamarine and Diamond Brooch
Topic: Faberge


Photo Credit: Anthony DeMarco  

Wartski of London are in possession of a number of Faberge objects, each of which has a special story. Unique among them is a Siberian aquamarine and diamond brooch which was a gift from Tsar Nicholas II to his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna. According to Wartski she was wearing the jewel right up until the time of her murder on July 17, 1918.

Here’s how Geoffrey Munn of Wartski tells the story (though somewhat melodramatic) behind the brooch:

"In here we have a Fabergé brooch, a Siberian aquamarine surrounded by diamonds. That’s all we knew for a while. It’s an exemplary aquamarine and it’s of extraordinary color. (women in the group gasp with amazement). I know, I know it’s fabulous. (But) it’s only the beginning of the trouble. Because this really is going to wreck you and you’ll need a stiff drink afterwards. It’s an exemplary aquamarine and it’s a Siberian one and they don’t really come in that color unless they do come from Siberia.… The story of this is really quite awe inspiring because the color blue in the lore of lapidary stones stands for love and then there’s sort of the interlock of two lives with diamonds forever. And that’s all we knew for a very long time until my colleague sent off the number to Russia and back came the provenance and it said that it was bought by the Supreme Autocrat of all the Russias—a pretty hot title—and there’s a note beside it saying it was the engagement present from (Russian Tsar) Nicholas II to Princess Alix of Hesse (Alexandra Feodorovna). And that is sort of stratospheric. But then what happens later is even more heartbreaking because when they were taken to prison in Siberia (during the Bolshevik Revolution), they went to a place called The House of Special Purpose—a very menacing title—and you know what happens next but this (the jewel) was with her just before she was taken to the basement and riddled with gunfire. It was confiscated and it isn’t actually open to debate because it was a civil service theft and so they made an inventory of what they’ve taken from her and they photographed it on the table so you don’t hear any fanciful stories. I think possibly that’s as far as jewelry will ever take you".

Source: Forbes Magazine

© Royal Russia. 14 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:59 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2012 3:55 PM EDT
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Monday, 13 August 2012
Cossacks on Bicentennial Victory Ride to Paris
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 1 minute, 36 seconds.
Topic: Cossacks

Two dozen daredevil Russian Cossacks, known for their deep-rooted horse-riding and fighting traditions, are heading to Paris. Fear not! All they want is to celebrate the bicentenary of the country's victory over Napoleon in the War of 1812.

­Twenty-three Cossacks who set out on horseback to ride from Moscow to the French capital are descendants of those who once fought against Napoleon’s army.

Their primary objective these days is to pass through six countries – Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and France – to arrive at the Palace of Fontainebleau by October 19. The horses the Cossacks are riding are a special southern Russia breed ideal for long journeys.

Residents of the cities the Cossacks will pass through will have a chance to appreciate their strong battle and horse riding skills, which once helped them beat the French.

Among their signature stunts are riding a horse while standing up; sitting on the horse the “wrong way” and being able to shoot backwards.

Among the key battles in Napoleon’s Russian campaign was the Battle of Borodino which involved 250,000 troops and was the bloodiest single day in all the Napoleonic Wars.  

Describing that battle, Napoleon said that the French proved themselves to be worthy of victory, while the Russians proved they can be called invincible, in many ways thanks to Cossacks.

© Russia Today and RIA Novosti. 13 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:02 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2012 6:59 AM EDT
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