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400th Anniversary
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Wednesday, 29 August 2012
Rare Book Returned to the Alexander Palace
Topic: Alexander Palace


Four millennia of universal history in four charts; for use at colleges and for history devotees, with a brief history of the Enlightenment by V.V.I. Schmidt – a St Petersburg-published book of 1823 which title page still bears the Tsarkskoye Selo Imperial Library stamp – has returned to the Alexander Palace reserve collection after the book left it over eighty years ago.

The book came back as a gift from Captain Peter Sarandinaki, the President and founder of the group called S.E.A.R.C.H. Foundation, Inc. with a mission to search for and recover the remains of two Romanov children. Mr Sarandinaki and other members of the group have done and will conduct more expeditions to the site of the murder of the Tsar’s family.

His grandfather, Colonel Kiril Naryshkin, was married to Anna Rozanova, the daughter of Lieutenant General Sergei Rozanov who was in charge of Admiral Kolchak’s White Russian troops that liberated Ekaterinburg from the Bolsheviks six days after the Romanov Imperial Family and their faithful servants were murdered. Rozanov and Naryshkin, the General’s adjutant, were among the first to enter the Ipatiev House.

The book Peter Sarandinaki together with his wife and two children brought back to the Museum was bought by his father in the 1930s at an American warehouse selling off unbidden auction items at nominal rates. The book graced their family collection for years. But as soon as Mr Sarandinaki found out the stamp on it was that of the Imperial Library, he contacted Tsarskoye Selo.

Our Museum is sincerely grateful to Captain Peter Sarandinaki and his family for their priceless gift.

© Tsarskoye Selo Palace-Museum Preserve. 29 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:54 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2012 1:25 PM EDT
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Monument to Alexander II Unveiled at Tula
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 1 minute, 37 seconds
Topic: Alexander II

A new monument to the Emperor Alexander II by the Russian sculptor, Alexander Apollo has been unveiled in the city of Tula, located about 193 km (120 miles) south of Moscow.

Alexander visited Tula on several occasions as both Tsesarevich and in 1860 as Emperor. He took a great interest in the arms factory and the local museum. The museum contains a unique collection of locally made guns, including a rifle with the following inscription: "His Majesty the Emperor Alexander II. In memory of his visit to the Tula Arms Factory. 1st September, 1875".

The first monument to Alexander II at Tula was erected in 1886. During the Soviet years the monument was destroyed, but the pedestal was preserved.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 29 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:34 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2012 10:48 AM EDT
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Solovetsky Monastery, Its Past and Present Day
Topic: Russian Church


The snow-white buildings of the Solovetsky monastery – a kind of spiritual fortress with its own laws and rules, with its own inhabitants, have been scattered on many islands in the White Sea in Russia’s North for centuries. However, the history of these sacred places begins in the 2nd millennium BC. The remnants of ancient sanctuaries and burial grounds are as numerous as the monuments to monasterial time are. The famous Solovetsky mazes, barrows and ridges keep guard to the mystery of old faiths and notions concerning the surrounding world that used to be embraced by the ancient inhabitants of the White Sea area. Monuments resembling Solovetsky sanctuaries can be found in the northeast of Scandinavia and on the Kola Peninsula. Whereas in Finland, Sweden and Norway these structures were destroyed with the introduction of Christianity, on the Solovetsky Islands they were preserved. That was a kind of dialogue between heathen and Christian cultures. We have inherited it in its primordial shape, and the unique environment of the Solovetsky Archipelago only strengthens the impression of the extraordinary northern civilization.

Since the first years of its existence, the Solovetsky Monastery – the heart of the Orthodox Church – has been an enclave of truly religious people. Solovetsky monks have entered into theoretical disputes with Moscow patriarchs and prelates more than once. History records have a mention of the revolt of the monks against reforms in the Orthodox Church introduced in the 17th century. The monks refused to accept the corrected church books brought from the mainland. No coercion could break their resistance. Finally Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich lost patience and confiscated the monastery’s mainland property. In response, the monks sent a letter to Moscow. It said: “If you, Your Majesty, do not wish to adhere to the old faith, order to punish us by sword and transfer us from this tumultuous life to a life eternal and tranquil”. In this way the monastery that no foreigners dared to attack rose against the authorities. The siege laid to the cloister continued for eight years. Finally, the monastery was overtaken, but its monks remained firm in their faith.

The history of Solovetsky fortress and monastery has many facets. The cloister outlived all Russian tsars and many patriarchs while remaining the spiritual bulwark of believers.

Perhaps the hardest time for the Solovetsky monastery was the 20th century, which saw World War Two, the mounting atheism in society, change of authorities and ideologies… In the 1920s the monastery was shut down and turned into a prison. A labour camp for political prisoners was set up on the Solovetsky Archipelago. It contained about 30,000 prisoners of more than 60 nationalities, many of whom were former army and navy officers, the gentry, intellectuals, clergymen, members of the political parties which tried to oppose bolshevism – anarchists, Mensheviks, social revolutionaries. The Solovetsky monastery saw the death of outstanding Russian philosopher, mathematician and priest Pavel Florensky and of many other prominent historians, writers, poets, musicians, scientists. Well-known Russian scientist, philologist, historian, philosopher and academician Dmitry Likhachev languished in Solovetsky dungeons. “What did I learn at Solovki? In the first place I realized that every man was a human. Criminals who are usually despised by society saved my life in the labour camp more than once,” the scientist wrote in his memoirs. Dmitry Likhachev, the last survivor of the Solovetsky labour camp, died in 1999, 60 years after the special prison ceased to exist.

Only in the early 1970 did the state pay attention to the unique historic and architectural monument, which had stood abandoned for over a half a century. The monastery was proclaimed a cultural preserve. And a decade later, on October 25, 1990 the Holy Synod led by Patriarch Alexi II decided to revive the Solovetsky monastery. Soon the relics of the Reverend founders of the cloister, Zosima, Savvati and Herman, were transferred there. Today not only the clerical authorities do much to rebuild the architectural monument. Russia’s Ministry of Culture worked out a special program for maintaining the sacred place of Russia’s North.

“Don’t fear Solovki, Jesus Christ is near them,” said well-known Russian artist Mikhail Nesterov with reference to the Solovetsky Monastery.

© The Voice of Russia. 29 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:16 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 28 August 2012
Monument to Emperor Alexander I Unveiled in Finland
Topic: Alexander I


In the Finnish city of Turku a monument has been unveiled in honor of the historic meeting between Russian Emperor Alexander I and Crown Prince of Sweden Carl Johan (Charles XIV John), reports.

The unveiling ceremony, which was attended by the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö, was the culminating event of the celebratory program of the 200th anniversary of the meeting between the two monarchs. During their meetings in what was then Finland’s largest city, the royal rulers rewrote and reaffirmed the Treaty of St. Petersburg in a way that was significant for Finland. Sweden finally gave up any claim to Finland and agreed to cooperate with Russia to defeat the French Emperor Napoleon. In return, Russia provided support for Sweden’s plans to invade Norway.

The author of the sculpture, Russian artist Andrei Kovalchuk, said that when engaged in work on the sculpture he studied a large volume of archive materials to help achieve authenticity. “Preparing the sculpture I used numerous portraits of the monarchs and also etchings depicting the meeting published in 1812 in a British newspaper,” he noted.

At the General Consulate of the Russian Federation in Turku an exhibition has opened titled ‘Russians in 1812” based on works from the Russian National Library and archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In honor of the 200th anniversary of the meeting an international academic seminar has been organized, attracting historians from Russia and Finland (which from 1809 to 1917 was part of the Russian Empire).

© Fontanka. 28 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:53 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2012 1:21 PM EDT
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Monday, 27 August 2012
Senior Orthodox Priest Calls Lenin Worse Than Hitler
Topic: Bolsheviks


A senior Russian Orthodox priest has called Vladimir Lenin an "even bigger villain" than Adolf Hitler and backed an effort to check his works for extremism.

Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov, head of church relations with the armed forces and law enforcement, said in an interview that a closer study of Lenin's writings could drastically alter societal beliefs regarding the Bolshevik leader, who he described as an "unscrupulous and utter cynic and villain," Interfax reported.

Soviet authorities ruthlessly suppressed religion, confiscated church properties, and demolished holy sites over their decades in power, leading many church officials to view them with bitter resentment.

Smirnov made his comments Friday in response to a question from Interview on whether he agreed with an effort by Russian Academy of Sciences researcher Vladimir Lavrov to have the Investigative Committee check Lenin's works for extremism.

Smirnov said he backed such an effort but that he doubted the works — which were a fixture on the bookshelves of many Soviet citizens and an obligatory subject of study in Soviet schools — would be banned.

He noted that Leninism, a communist ideology that promotes socialism and a "dictatorship of the proletariat," was also a kind of religion and that a check of Lenin's works would not affect how his staunch devotees viewed him.

Speaking about his belief that Russian cities needed to be rid of the ubiquitous images and place-names that include Lenin, Smirnov referred to efforts in post-World War II Germany to eliminate Hitler's name from public spaces.

For him, Smirnov said, Lenin was "an even bigger villain than Hitler" because "Hitler treated his people much better."

© The Moscow Times. 27 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:58 AM EDT
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Sunday, 26 August 2012
Tsarskoye Selo Station to Regain Historic Name
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


The administration of the Pushkin District have voted to restore the historic name of the main train station at Puskhin. The station will be renamed Tsarskoye Selo-Pushkin.

According to Tatiana Bogulyubova, Deputy Head of the Administration, "the return of the historic name will assist visitor's with orientation". During the Soviet years the train station was known as Detskoe Selo (Children's Village), the name of which has no association to Tsarskoye Selo or Pushkin whatsoever.

After the Russian Revolution, Tsarskoye Selo was renamed Detskoe Selo, and in 1937 was renamed Pushkin.

The renaming of one of Russia's oldest train station's also has the support of Russian Railways.

Tsarskoye Selo can be reached from the Vitebsky Railway Station in St. Petersburg. Upon arrival, there are local buses or taxis that will take visitors to the Catherine and Alexander Palaces, or it is a 45-minute walk.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:46 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 26 August 2012 7:07 AM EDT
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Saturday, 25 August 2012
The Alexander Palace: A Walk Through the State Rooms
Now Playing: Language: NA - Music. Duration: 16 minutes, 50 seconds
Topic: Alexander Palace

The following 16-minute video (with musical accompaniment)  takes us through the State Rooms of the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo.

The restoration of the Portrait, Semi-Circular and Marble Halls were completed in 2010, marking the 300th anniversary of Tsarskoye Selo.

It was from the Semi-Circular Hall that Tsar Nicholas II, his family and retinue departed the Alexander Palace for the last time on August 1, 1917. From here they were taken to the Alexandrovsky Station, and taken by train into exile to Siberia.

© Royal Russia. 25 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:53 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 27 August 2012 11:14 AM EDT
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Friday, 24 August 2012
Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR Issues Statement on Royal Remains
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs


During its regular session on June 14, 2012, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia deliberated on the matter of the discovery of the remains and other possessions relating to the martyrdom of the Royal Family which had been hidden in the walls of the stavropighial Memorial Church in Brussels.  

During renovations on St Job the Much-Suffering Church, which is also dedicated to the memory of Holy Royal Martyr Nicholas II, the Royal Family and all those martyred during that time of troubles, a sealed lead cylinder was discovered along with a glass tube with a handwritten document containing an inventory of the contents of the cylinder.  

The fact that the Memorial Church was in possession of these remains and other objects connected with the brutal murder of the Royal Family in Ekaterinburg had been known to the Synod of Bishops. It was also known that they were handed over by the investigator of the murder of the Royal Family, Nikolai A. Sokolov, before his death (November 23, 1924), to Prince Alexei Alexandrovich Shirinsky-Shikhmatov, and in 1940 were given to Metropolitan Seraphim (Lukianov), who at the time headed the Western European Diocese, and that further, on October 1, 1950, when the Memorial Church was consecrated by Metropolitan Anastassy, the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, they were inserted into a sealed lead cylinder and built into the walls of the church. 

The Synod of Bishops did not deem it proper to organize a search for the sealed capsule following the death of all the living witnesses, though naturally, over the recent two decades, many people exhibited an active interest in its existence.  

Now, after its discovery, in light of the fact that the important question of the remains of the Royal Family is coming to a final conclusion based on new evidence and serious scientific research, and since controversy yet remains, the Synod of Bishops expresses its willingness to cooperate in the further study of this matter on the basis of the discovery together with the Church in Russia. An absolute condition of such research will be a pious attitude towards everything relating to the martyric end of the Royal Family and its faithful servants. 

The Synod of Bishops believes and hopes that this will help achieve the final answer to this matter, which is so important to the Russian Orthodox Church.

© ROCOR. 24 August, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:02 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 24 August 2012 8:09 AM EDT
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Thursday, 23 August 2012
New Political Party Seeks Restoration of Monarchy
Topic: Russian Monarchy


Russian pro-Orthodox Church activists have set up a party called Samoderzavnaya Rossiya (Autocratic Russia) with the stated objective of restoring the monarchy via parliamentary procedures and, according to one of its leaders, brings together several thousand people.

Without monarchy, Russia would be unable to carry out tasks put before it in the 15th century, "when God put Russia in the place of Byzantium," Valentin Lebedev, head of the Union of Orthodox Citizens and one of Autocratic Russia's leaders, told the Interfax-Religion portal.

"Building the Third Rome is the task of the Russian people. By their work to carry out this task, our ancestors built the greatest state in the world, the Russian Empire," he said.

"We set ourselves the task of bringing the lofty spiritual ideals that the Orthodox Church enshrines into all spheres of society, primarily into government, in other words into political life," Lebedev said.

The leader of Autocratic Russia is Dmitry Merkulov, a journalist and public figure.

Lebedev said the creation of the party started last year, before Russia simplified its legislation on setting up parties.

"At the moment, the registration process is underway," he said. "After its registration the party will launch a practical struggle for power, first locally and then in the State Duma."

Lebedev said Autocratic Russia has several thousand members living in various parts of the country.

© Interfax-Religion. 23 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:39 AM EDT
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Watercolor Paintings by Emperor Alexander II to be Unveiled
Topic: Alexander II


The yet unknown drawings by Emperor Alexander II will be unveiled at the Alexander Solzhenitsyn Center for Russian Emigres in Moscow on August 31, Voice of Russia reports. The exhibition is dedicated to the 200th anniversary since Russia`s victory over Napoleon in 1812.

The collection comprises the items contributed courtesy of the descendants of those who took part in the 1812 war. Apart from albums with lithographs, illustrations, rare books and magazines, visitors will see watercolor paintings made by Alexander II, featuring officers and men of 1812-1814.

© Voice of Russia. 23 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:33 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 23 August 2012 10:34 AM EDT
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