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Saturday, 20 July 2013
Russia Commemorates the Holy Royal Martyrs - 2013
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs

Earlier this week an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Orthodox Christians and monarchists took part in a 20-km procession from the Church on the Spilled Blood in Ekaterinburg to Ganina Yama.
This is the 20th year in a row that this pilgrimmage has taken place, it has become a part of the 12th annual Tsar's Days Festival that ran from July 12th to 24th this year.
The event has gained popularity over the years and has spread to many other cities and towns across Russia.
Please take a moment to review a short article, accompanied by colour photographs and 3 videos of the events surrounding this holy event. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:34 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 20 July 2013 4:57 PM EDT
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Taking Photos That Would Never be Published
Topic: Books


Yekaterinburg photographer Alexei Vladykin’s book, The Tsar’s Cross, represents two decades of work documenting the restoration of the royal family in public memory.

As a child, Alexei Vladykin would walk to school in his native Yekaterinburg past Ipatiev House, the place where the royal family was executed, without even knowing it. The building had been demolished in 1977 at the “suggestion” of KGB chief Yuri Andropov, a move approved unanimously by the Soviet Politburo.

“I have no recollection of it being pulled down,” says Vladykin. “But I remember vividly years later, as a photojournalist, I travelled to the editorial office past an unkempt abandoned lot. And that at some point, a wooden cross was erected on the spot.”

The cross was planted by a local man, Anatoly Gomzikov. Vladykin recalls: “He was a strong believer in God, an elderly man who had had his ups and downs in life, but had never lost his dignity – unlike those who broke down the wooden cross just a few days later.”

A metal cross was erected in its place and a year later in 1992 residents and clergymen gathered to lay the first stone of the Church on the Blood at the site.

“I was taking pictures knowing that they would never be published: they were sure to be rejected by editors on ideological grounds,” says Vladykin. “But the events certainly had historical value, so I felt obligated to document them and then just shelved the negatives for the next 20 years.”

The cathedral was consecrated on 16 June 2003. “The most emotionally charged photos I made were of Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya,” Vladykin says of the ceremony. “They vividly convey the emphatic pain many people feel about the tragic death of the royal family.”

He also photographed the head of the team that investigated the authenticity of the remains of the royal family, Vladimir Solovyov. They first met in 1996, when the photographer asked whether the remains really were those of the Romanovs.

“He answered there could be no doubt about that. I asked then if I could take a few pictures. I remember him taking me to the laboratory where several glass sarcophagi stood. He took me to the one that was open at the time and said it contained the remains of Grand Duchess Anastasia.”

Two years later, Alexei was on hand as Yekaterinburg bade farewell to the royal family. “The fragments of their bodies were put in short coffins,” he said. Two of them – the Emperor’s and the Empress’s – were covered with state flags. The procession of people stretched for several streets. People held flowers, icons and postcards with the Romanovs on them and whispered: “Forgive us.”

The album of 200 photographs represents half a lifetime for Vladykin, who says: “I was 27 when I took the pictures of the cross in the deserted lot, and the photos for the last chapter of the book were made two years before my 50th birthday.” 

© Russia Beyond the Headlines. 20 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:33 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 20 July 2013 9:47 AM EDT
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Friday, 19 July 2013
Russia's Crown Jewels: The Royal Martyr Children
Topic: OTMA


The crown of Imperial Russia was one of the most resplendent in the world, shining with precious jewels and symbolizing a mighty nation that covered one-sixth of the globe. But in the beginning of our century, when the forces of evil arose to topple this mighty nation, the bastion of Orthodoxy, then even more resplendently shone the crown of Holy Russia, made of the purest gold of the New Martyrs and Confessors. And adorning this unique and magnificent crown were the most sparkling and wondrous jewels of all: the royal children-martyrs.

This beautifully written article about the children of Tsar Nicholas II was written by Matushka Natalia, it was originally published in Orthodox America.


© Orthodox America. 19 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:40 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 19 July 2013 1:46 PM EDT
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Thursday, 18 July 2013
Festival in Honour of Grand Duchess Elizabeth in Moscow
Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD

The open-air festival will be held on July 18 in Sts. Martha and Mary Convent in commemoration of the 95th anniversary of the martyrdom of Grand Duchess Elizaveta (Elizabeth) Feodorovna Romanova, reports

A concert with the participation of singers from the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera center and the "Vek" ("Century") Children's hareographic school will take place on the stage near the Church of Protection. The festival's visitors will have free refreshments and a tea party.

In the Convent's garden, graduates of St. Dimitry's School for Sisters of Mercy will teach all those who wish how to give first medical aid. The sisters of mercy will give a master class on bandaging, show how to stop bleeding, and explain how to help someone in case of a heart attack. The guests will try their hands at special mannequins. Theme games and souvenirs are being prepared for the youngest guests of the festival.

The excursions will be held the whole day in the Protection Church of the Convent and in the house-museum of Duchess Elizabeth, where unique exhibits are collected: items of everyday life and writing, photographs of Grand Duchess Elizabth.

Before the festival begins, a prayer service and Divine Liturgy will be celebrated; the Liturgy will be headed by Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuevo, head of the Synodal Department for Church charity and social ministry.

Sts. Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy was founded by Grand Duchess Elizabeth in 1907 after the tragic death of her husband, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Romanov from the hands of a terrorist. The poor and orphans, the disabled and elderly were those whom the sisters of the convent tirelessly took care of.

Today, 25 sisters living in the Convent are continuing this service. They visit old lonely people and the disabled at their homes. Various projects of the Orthodox aid service called "Miloserdie" ("Mercy") are working at the Sts. Martha and Mary Convent: children with severe forms of cerebral spastic infantile paralysis have rehabilitation here and a children's visiting palliative service works as well. Gravely sick people with neurogenetic diseases, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, are also given support.

Over 20 girls are being educated at St. Elizabeth orphanage on the territory of the Convent. Moreover, the Convent has a group of workers who set appointments with the needy at the Convent. Those in need address can come to them with requests for food, medicine and help in even more serious issues.The festival begins on July 18 with a prayer service and Liturgy at 7:45 a.m. The concert begins at 13.00.

© 18 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:51 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 18 July 2013 2:56 PM EDT
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Russian Investigative Committee Doesn't Doubt Authenticity of Romanov Remains
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs

 The remains of the Russian Imperial family* were buried in Saint Catherine's Chapel, a side-chapel of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg on July 17th, 1998. *The remains of the Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria have yet to be buried. 

The Russian Investigative Committee does not doubt the authenticity of the royal family remains found near Yekaterinburg and it is ready to answer every question of the Russian Orthodox Church.

"No new data, which might have called our research into question, has been uncovered," senior investigator of the Russian Investigative Committee's Main Forensic Department Vladimir Solovyov, who investigated the murder of the royal family, told Interfax on Wednesday.

The family of the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II, was executed in the Urals 95 years ago, in the early morning hours of July 17, 1918.

"Numerous conferences have been held since 2008 when our report was published but no one has ever questioned the scientific integrity of our inquiry," Solovyov said.

"It is our opinion, based on scientific methods, that the remains actually belong to members of the royal family," the Investigative Committee representative said.

He added that the royal family murder case would not be completely closed until the burial of the remains of Tsesarvich Alexei and his sister Maria.

"The Church claims it has certain qualms about our studies. It would be best to have a civilized discussion about any problems with the clerics. We are ready to listen to their objections and to answer their questions. There has been no joint work between church scholars and the scientists who examined the remains," Solovyov said.

"I would like to meet with representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate and have a civilized discussion on every issue. It is an outrage that human remains are still stored in the archives instead of being buried," Solovyov said about the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria.

Meanwhile, the House of Romanov, led by Grand Duchess of Russia Maria Vladimirovna, said it was not prepared to recognize the authenticity of the remains found in Yekaterinburg.

"The head of the Russian royal family, Grand Duchess Marina Vladimirovna, fully shares the position of the Russian Orthodox Church. Neither the investigators nor the Prosecutor General's Office have given complete, coherent answers to the ten questions of the Russian Orthodox Church," the House of Romanov lawyer, German Lukyanov, told Interfax on Wednesday.

"It would be premature to put the matter to rest, especially given that weighty evidence has been found abroad and may shed light on the actual state of affairs," Lukyanov said.

The notes of investigator Nikolai Sokolov, who was looking into the murder of the last Russian emperor and his family in 1919 on the orders of Admiral Kolchak, were found during the reconstruction of the Job the Long-Suffering Church in Brussels, he said.

The House of Romanov expects an analysis of the papers found in Brussels to put an end to the dispute over the authenticity of the royal family remains.

The Russian Investigative Committee finished the inquiry into the criminal case of the death of the family of Nicholas II in January 2011. The remains were proclaimed genuine.

The Russian Orthodox Church and the House of Romanov continue to deny the authenticity of the remains.

© Interfax. 18 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:21 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 18 July 2013 8:45 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 17 July 2013
The Tsar Files: Who Killed the Romanovs?
Topic: Nicholas II

Even now, 95 years after the murder of Russia's last czar, Nicholas II, we do not know precisely how many people took part in the deed. One account of the event claims there were eight, and yet another insists there were 11—one for each murdered member of the Russian royal family. Yan Shenkman investigates the identities and lives of the killers of the tsar.
© Russia Beyond the Headlines. 17 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:18 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 July 2013 11:23 AM EDT
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The Last Emperor: 20 Years After the Collapse of the Soviet Union
Topic: Nicholas II

How do modern Russians view the royal legacy and what are their perceptions of the last Tsar, Nicholas II? Public attitudes towards him have undergone several shifts since the collapse of the Soviet Union two decades ago, with the most recent studies showing an increase in appreciation of the monarch.

On the anniversary of his death, political analyst Alexander Morozov looks at how post-Soviet Russia remembers the Tsar.


© Russia Beyond the Headlines. 17 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:29 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 July 2013 10:35 AM EDT
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The Romanov Family in the Memories of Their Contemporaries
Topic: Nicholas II

Memories of the last Imperial Family of Russia are recalled through the words of those who shared their private world. Included are Vladimir Kokotsev, Anna Vyrubova, General Mikhail Diterikhs, Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden, Klavdia Bitner, Pierre Gilliard and Sofia Ofrosimova.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 July, 2013



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:48 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 July 2013 9:57 AM EDT
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In Memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs - 17 July, 1918
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs

Today marks the 95th anniversary of the murders of Tsar Nicholas II and his family.
The Tsar, along with his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, their four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, and their only son and heir to the Russian throne, Alexei were murdered in the basement of the Ipatiev House in the early morning hours of July 17th, 1918. There were no survivors.
Their murders were followed by the Red Terror unleashed by Vladimir Lenin and later by his successor, Joseph Stalin. For more than 70 years Russia would suffer under the hands of an evil regime, one that resulted in the murder of millions of innocent people.
In the last 20 years Communism has fallen, the Russian Orthodox Church reborn, the last tsar and his family canonized.
Indeed, the Bolsheviks had been brought down. 


© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:40 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 July 2013 8:49 AM EDT
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The Great Puzzle of the Romanoff Ilyinsky Family's Russian History
Now Playing: Language: NA. Duration: 9 minutes, 40 seconds
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Today, the exhibition The Romanovs: From Tsarskoye Selo to Cincinnati opened in the Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky has written the following article on the history of the collection. He also shares with us a home movie of his grandfather, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich during his years in exile. The exhibition will run until September 30th, 2013. 
This exhibition really began in 1987 when I was asked to be the chairman of a fundraiser for the Cincinnati-Kharkov Sister City Project. I agreed to participate as Kharkov is in Ukraine, which was part of the Soviet Union as was Russia. How could I pass up the opportunity to get involved with a project so closely connected to Russia?

In preparing for the event, I was interviewed for a local newspaper. Some of the questions were about my family’s history and connection to Russia, which I really didn’t know much about. At age twenty-eight all I knew about my family’s Russian history was that my grandfather was a Grand Duke who was related to the last Tsar Nicholas II. I knew Dmitri had been exiled from Russia because of his involvement in the death of Rasputin and this had ironically spared his life.

In September of 1989 I made my first voyage to Russia and the Soviet Union. I was one of a dozen volunteers who were working in the field of alcoholism and drug addiction. We spent three days in Leningrad, seven days in Volgograd and our last three days in Moscow. This first trip to Russia was without doubt one of the most powerful experiences of my life. Over the next five years I would return to Russia, Ukraine and the Soviet Union four more times.

There was a huge box that had been stored in my parent’s garage in Florida for years. As it turned out the black box was an old Louis Vuitton trunk filled with receipts, bills, photos, letters and small personal items of my grandparents. To me at that time, it was all treasure and nothing would be discarded until I knew exactly what it was and if it was a piece of my family’s puzzle. Little did I realize how many years it would require for me to fulfill my pledge.

I organized photographs by subject matter, though most of the time I was not aware of who, what or where the photos were taken. Working with the letters would always demand much more time as I could not help but read and reread them which at times would be quite emotional. Along with the photographs came envelopes and books of photographic negatives. Some of these were from Paris, Venice, Monaco, Biarritz, New York, Palm Beach and Davos. Then there were the films. I came into possession of a box of 16mm films that belonged to my grandfather. Some of the films, still in their original boxes, were identified with dates and locations — primarily the early 1930s. Unfortunately the aged and decayed condition of every film made each of them unusable. A white crystalline formation coated most of the film and any attempt to unwind them ended quickly as the delicate, dried and decrepit celluloid would crinkle, crumble and dissolve into a pile of lost memories. Removing the majority of the film from the first reel seemed to take forever. Then the film began to come off in two-inch pieces and as I got closer to the center of the reel the condition of the film was looking healthier and healthier. Finally, with most of the film in a crumbling heap, I came to a point where the film, still fragile and frail, actually looked like film. Off to the lab it went and in a few weeks time the Great Puzzle would begin to take a new shape. No, not a new shape but perhaps one of greater depth.

Though the Great Puzzle is still not complete, it has a definite shape and tells a fascinating story. I am still finding new pieces to add while always trying to figure out where the existing pieces fit together. Just recently my friends at the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve have informed me as to the meaning of several items that were in my father’s house my entire life. Some of those items you will see in the exhibition.

I hope you will enjoy this exhibition of “The Great Puzzle” of my grandfather’s Russian history as much as I have enjoyed the unique and wonderful opportunity to piece it together.

Michael Romanoff Ilynisky
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. 17 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:43 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 8 August 2013 9:51 AM EDT
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