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Thursday, 11 June 2015
It Was Not the Revolution That Destroyed Emperor Nicholas II
Topic: Nicholas II

Emperor Nicholas II and Vladimir Lenin
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the June 10th, 2015 edition of Pravda. The author Inna Novikova owns the copyright of the work presented below. Minor editing by Paul Gilbert.

NOTE: I would like to point out to readers that Pravda (Truth in English) is a Russian political newspaper associated with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. The newspaper began publication in 1912 and emerged as a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union after the October Revolution. The newspaper was an organ of the Central Committee of the CPSU between 1912 and 1991. Given the Communist Party’s track record on “the truth” gives cause for speculation on anything published in Pravda - PG.
The great Russian Empire found itself in the vortex of the revolutionary abyss in only eight months. Pravda.Ru editor-in-chief Inna Novikova discussed the topic of the fall of the Russian Empire with Associate Professor at History Department of Moscow State University Fyodor Gaida.

IN - Today, there are many people who believe that the tsarist regime fell only because German Emperor Wilhelm II sent Lenin to Russia with a suitcase full of money in a sealed train car. What led Russia to Emperor's abdication, and subsequently to the October Revolution?

FG - There is no documentary evidence to prove that Lenin was working to perform someone's assignment. Having a picture of Vladimir Lenin in mind, one may say that he was acting solely on the basis of his own plans. As for the money, he would take it from anyone. Lenin was an unprincipled man who professed the principle "money does not smell." Another thing is that at that moment in history the interests of Germany and Lenin coincided.

The German authorities thought that such a left radical as Lenin would help break imperial Russia, but would not be able to create anything himself. Germany was playing to weaken Russia to the maximum. Germany needed Lenin and all his slogans to weaken Russia, rather than to overthrow autocracy. Germany was always afraid of Russia. The Germans knew that Russian industry was capable of making a very serious breakthrough. Germany was very nervous.

Actually, Germany went to war in 1914 after it had finished the rearmament program. France was supposed to finish it in 1915, and Russia - in 1917. Time was not working for the Germans. Lenin was the person whose interests coincided with interests of Germany. Afterwards, Lenin continued to adhere to "pro-German" foreign policy. When the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, the Second Reich got a second wind. Until 1918, German troops attempted to advance on the Western Front, but in August 1918, the Germans gave up. Interestingly, Lenin's attempted assassination was organized in August 1918 too.

The events that happened in Russia in 1917 were two phases of one and the same process.

With the beginning of the February Revolution, Russia started to fall apart. There was no real government in the country at that time. The government that the country had was nothing but a circus.

IN - So the Germans were attracted to Lenin's call about the right of nations to self-determination. What attracted them to that slogan?"

FG - For Europe, with its multinational imperial organization, the practical version of this slogan would mean a new political map of the world and a severe crisis. Suddenly, a man appears on the horizon of political power, who raises its banner of the right of nations to self-determination, land and peace decrees, proclaiming a radical program in essence. The Germans realized that they had to support most radical forces in Russia.

IN - Historians talk a lot about the mistakes that Nicholas II made, about his weaknesses and shortsightedness. Did he have an opportunity to influence the situation?

FG - Let's face it - Nicholas II was neither an outstanding statesman nor a military leader. He was not the wisest of the wise. He was a typical man of his time. He, unlike modern politicians, never gave unrealistic promises. After the defeat in the Russian-Japanese war, Nicholas II became a cautious figure in politics. Russia's foreign policy after 1905 was relatively peaceful. Russia was fighting for zones of influence, realizing that one should not go too far. Just look at the Russian policies in Asia from 1905 to 1912. Russia had seriously expanded its area of �€‹ï¿½€‹influence, without quarrelling with anyone.

After 1905, other prominent figures in Russian politics began to consider themselves wiser than Nicholas II. By February 1917, the political class and generals saw the emperor as the main obstacle on the way of the development of the country.

As a result of this confrontation, the emperor abdicated from power.

The next moment everyone realized that the whole country was based on the emperor. It was the emperor who was the symbol of Russia's unity. As soon as Nicholas II abdicated, all of his opponents vanished. They were removed from the political scene.

© Inna Novikova / Pravda and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 June, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:54 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 12 June 2015 8:04 AM EDT
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Monday, 8 June 2015
Tsar Nicholas II's Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
Topic: Nicholas II

The abdication of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia in 1917 brought an end to three centuries of the Romanov Dynasty's rule. After that seminal event, the Bolshevik revolution ensured that Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov would become the first post-imperial prime minister of Russia. In spite of all this commotion, the last Tsar's most prized limousine stood the test of time and here is that very car.

History tells us that Nicholas II of Russia lost too many battles and made some uninspired decisions during his reign, but we'll let historians decide what is good and what is wrong. This being autoevolution, we decided to showcase one of the Tsar's most prized vehicles.

Nicholas was a big fan of Delaunay-Belleville and Mercedes cars. He had so many cars that in 1910 there were 21 drivers (one for each car) and a budget of 126,000 rubles ($1,260,000 adjusted for inflation) to maintain his garage for the year.

Probably the most beloved luxobarge the Tsar ever owned, this 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost is now for sale. A classic car dealership from Mettmann, Germany, wants €6.5 million to part ways with it. That's a truckload of money, the equivalent of $7.22 million or £4.72 million at current exchange rates.

A lot of money is being asked for a purple-painted Rolls-Royce, which was owned by the Tsar for a rather brief period of time before being deposed of it and subsequently murdered in the cellar of a house along with his family. In a way, this Rolls-Royce is a classic car that's been made even more valuable by its famous first owner, not because of the pristine condition of the vehicle.

To make a long story short, after the 1917 revolution the Silver Ghost in the adjacent gallery made its way into the collection of an eccentric American that used the car as an exhibit for Las Vegas' Imperial Casino. Before World War II broke out, John Ringling acquired the car and put it in a nuclear bomb-proof bunker in the basement of a mansion in Germany. Ironic stuff, huh?

The most famous of seven brothers and mastermind behind the Ringling Brothers Circus, John Ringling and his successors took care of Tsar Nicholas II's Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, now in the inventory of Fantastische Fahrzeuge - Michael Fröhlich with 74,881 kilometers (46,528 miles) on the odometer.

The 7,428 cc six-cylinder engine churns out approximately 50 horsepower. It may not be as imposing as Lenin's Kegresse track-converted Silver Ghost, but this purple blast from the past is a collector's dream.

© autoevolution. 08 June, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:45 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 8 June 2015 11:51 AM EDT
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Thursday, 28 May 2015
Monument to Nicholas II Unveiled at Livadia on May 19
Topic: Nicholas II


On May 19 a bust to the Holy Russian Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled at the Livadia Palace of the Crimea, reports the KP.RU website. Now this marble monument decorates the entrance to this famous palace which was a favourite summer residence of the imperial Romanov Family until the Revolution of 1917.

It was not a coincidence that the event took place on May 19* since it was the Holy Emperor’s birthday on that day, said workers of the Livadia Palace.

It was the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Crimea (now in the Russian Federation) Natalia Poklonskaya who proposed installation of a bust of the Russian tsar on the territory of the palace. She also was present at the ceremony. Earlier she said that Crimean residents should be aware of historical lessons and remember that Tsar Nicholas II had sacrificed himself and his family to Russia. It is necessary for young people to love, appreciate and defend their native land.

Along with Natalia Poklonskaya, the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (which actually gave the bust to the palace), the Restoration of Cultural Heritage charitable foundation, the St. Nicholas – Berlyukov Monastery (situated in the Avdotyino village near Moscow), and the Crimea’s Council of Ministers took part in the unveiling and creation of the bust.

* There appears to be some confusion in the Russian media lately with regard to the correct date of the last tsar’s date of birth. Nicholas II was born on 6 May, 1868 according to the Julian calendar, which was used in Russia until 1918. Nicholas II was born on 18 May, 1868 according to the Gregorian calendar, which was used in the West and in Russia on 14 February 1918. The Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar during the 19th century. Most modern-day Russian and Western historians, as well as various Russian Orthodox web sites acknowledge that Nicholas II was indeed born on 18 May [O.S. 6 May] 1868 - Paul Gilbert.  

© 28 May, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:15 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 1 June 2015 10:15 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 19 May 2015
Monument to Emperor Nicholas II to be Unveiled Today at Livadia
Topic: Nicholas II

The unveiling and consecration of a new monument to Emperor Nicholas II will take place at 1:00 pm today in front of the Livadia Palace, which is situated near Yalta in the Crimea. Russia’s newest monument to the last Russian emperor is the joint efforts of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS), the Revival of Cultural Heritage Foundation, Nicholas Berlyukovsky Monastery and the Council of Ministers of Crimea.

It seems only fitting that a monument should be established in his memory at Livadia Palace, a favourite retreat of Tsar Nicholas II, and his family in the Crimea. The imperial family spent the autumns of 1911 and 1913 and the springs of 1912 and 1914 in the palace, but did not return after the outbreak of the First World War. Nicholas II was forced to abdicate in March 1917. He asked the Provisional Government to allow him and his family to continue to live in Livadia as private individuals, but this was refused. The family were instead, exiled to Tobolsk, and later Ekaterinburg, where they were all murdered in the early morning hours of July 17, 1918.
For more information on the new monument to Nicholas II at Livadia, please refer to the following articles:

New Monument to Nicholas II at Livadia + COLOUR PHOTOS

Monument to Nicholas II to be Established at Livadia Next Month 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 May, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:05 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 17 May 2015 11:27 AM EDT
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Monday, 18 May 2015
Personal Diaries and Letters of Nicholas II Presented at the Presidential Library
Topic: Nicholas II

Diary entry of 19 February 1896 on the death of Peter A. Cherevin, who served as Assistant Minister of the Interior
and chief of police. "Unspeakably sorry for him; hard to lose such a loyal and honest friend," wrote Nicholas
To the birthday of Emperor Nicholas II, which is celebrated on May 18, the Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg presents unique materials that reveal the tragic events that befell the last Russian autocrat. Diaries and letters of Nicholas II, digitized by the Presidential Library, reflect them.

Nicholas II kept a diary from a young age. His diary archive is 50 voluminous notebooks containing successive records from 1882 to 1918. These records reflect his teenage years, the personality of the future emperor, life of the royal family, the death of Alexander III and major historical events related to the years of his reign. After the shooting of the royal family, the diaries of Nicholas II began actively published.

One of the first such publication was “Diary of Emperor Nicholas II”, released in Berlin in 1923 by the publishing house "Slovo". Fitted with editorial notes and explanatory notes, it is a valuable historical material, which covers the period of the life of Nicholas II from 1890 to 1906.

The book introduction states "the published diary of Emperor Nicholas II should shed a bright new light on the causes of crash, that ended his rule, and find out, how inevitable it was".

Nicholas II led his diary with exceptional accuracy. Basically these are short-mark reports on conducted recently days. No matter how sad or happy events might be: whether the death of his father Alexander III, abdication or, conversely, engagement or wedding - Nicholas II always found a few minutes to make an entry in the notebook. For example, here is an article about the sad death of his father, Emperor Alexander III: 

"A day of rest for me - no reports, no reception. At 11 o'clock they went to liturgy, for the first time in our lovely Church. It was sad and hurt to stand in the same old place, knowing that one seat will remain forever empty".

The advent of a new tsar on the throne has aroused great expectations in society. Liberal circles hoped to draw the attention of the young emperor on the need to change domestic policy of the Russian state. However, the first public speech of Nikolai II, uttered them in the Nicholas Hall of the Winter Palace to the deputations of the nobility, the Zemstvos and towns, did not meet their expectations. As you know, the emperor called "senseless dreams" offers of the participation of representatives of the zemstvo in matters of internal management and added that he would "protect the beginning of autocracy as firmly and steadily as it guarded the unforgettable, the deceased parent".

So this event was reflected in the diary of Nicholas II: «Exhausting day! After a short walk I had reports. I was in terrible emotions before to enter the Nikolaev hall, to deputations from the nobility, zemstvo and urban societies, who I delivered speech to".  

The emperor Nicholas II’s speech in the Winter Palace was reflected in another valuable historical document, digitized by the Presidential Library - in the "Correspondence of William II c Nicholas II". It contains letters and telegrams of the last emperor of Germany and the last Russian emperor each other between 1894 and 1914. All correspondence between the rulers was conducted in English, in 1923 the selected letters have been translated into Russian and published in Russia.

Since 1904, the letters and diaries of Nicholas II reflect the reaction of tsar to the events of the Russian-Japanese War, the beginning of the revolutionary movement and workers' strikes. For example, the record from January 26, 1904: "After returning home, I received a telegram with the news that night, Japanese torpedo boats fired on the attack stood in the outer roads "Crown Prince", "Retvizan" and "Pallas" and caused them holes. And this is without a declaration of war. The Lord will help us!"

The results of the Russian-Japanese war, the economic crisis and discontent, covered most, have led to an explosion - 9th January 1905 the army and police of St. Petersburg used firearms to disperse a peaceful procession of workers on their way with a petition to tsar. And the "Bloody Sunday" was reflected in the diary of the Emperor: "Sunday! Heavy day! In St. Petersburg there were held serious disturbances as a result of the desire of workers to reach the Winter Palace. The troops had to shoot in different places of the city, there were many dead and wounded. God, how painful and difficult".

By the autumn of 1905 the revolutionary movement reached extreme tension. In late September - early October, in the whole country the railway strike broke out. It stops traffic on the Baltic railway. Communication between Peterhof where tsar lived and St. Petersburg was supported only by steamers. "The communication with St. Petersburg was only by boat, disgraceful position", - so it was described the situation in the country by the last Russian emperor.

The details about the fate of Nicholas II can be found in the electronic collection of the Presidential Library, which is dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Romanov House celebrated in 2013. The collection includes about a thousand digitized documents, most of which were previously unknown to the general audience. 
© Yeltsin Presidential Library. 18 May, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:49 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 18 May 2015 1:58 PM EDT
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On This Day: Emperor Nicholas II Born
Topic: Nicholas II

Royal Russia Founder Paul Gilbert visiting the monument to Emperor Nicholas II in the village of Tainiskoye in March 2015
On 18th May, 1868, the last Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II, was born in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo.

It seems only fitting that I write an update on my forthcoming book, Nicholas II: The Rehabilitation of Russia’s Last Tsar, scheduled for publication in 2016. 

During my recent visit to Moscow back in March, I traveled by car from my hotel to the village of Tainiskoye which is situated in the district of Mytishchi to visit the magnificent monument to Emperor Nicholas II pictured above.

Mytishchi, which is situated northeast of Moscow is famous for its aqueduct, built in the 18th century by the order of Empress Catherine II. It was the first water supply constructed in Russia to provide the Kremlin with pure water.

The monument at Mytishchi is one of several monuments, busts and memorial plaques dedicated to the last Russian emperor in the Moscow area. It is the most impressive, and one with an interesting history.

The monument was made by the Russian sculptor Vyacheslav Klykov. It was erected in May 1996 near the Church of the Annunciation (1675-1677), to mark the 100th anniversary of the Coronation of Emperor Nicholas II which took place in Moscow in May 1896.

The monument was blown up by left-wing extremists in the early morning hours of April 1, 1997. A second monument was made by Klykov, and consecrated in August 2000. 

In the last 24 years, more than 30 monuments, busts and memorials of Emperor Nicholas II have been erected across Russia. The most recent monument was unveiled at Livadia on May 19th. I will dedicate an entire chapter to these monuments in my book, providing interesting details about each, accompanied by photographs which include many taken during my numerous visits to Russia.

For more information on my forthcoming book, please refer to the following links: 

Researching Emperor Nicholas II in Moscow

Nicholas II: The Rehabilitation of Russia's Last Tsar 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 18 May, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:59 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 18 May 2015 8:12 AM EDT
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Monday, 11 May 2015
Iconic St. Petersburg Museum Houses Gifts to Nicholas II from King of Siam
Topic: Nicholas II

The Kunstamera Museum in St. Petersburg houses gifts made by King Rama V of Siam to the future Emperor Nicholas II
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the May 11th, 2015 edition of the Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Gleb Federov owns the copyright of the work presented below. The article has been edited by Paul Gilbert, Royal Russia 

While undertaking his Great Eastern Journey, the man who would become Russia’s last Tsar established links with rulers in many parts of the world, including Siam, where he met the then-ruling monarch, King Rama V. The fifth ruler of the Chakri Dynasty presented the then - Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich (the future Emperor Nicholas II) with a few gifts.

The Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which is the complete name for Kunstkamera, houses these gifts: A Lao-style sabre, a Siamese-style sabre, a Malay kris with a blade of meteoric iron and official portraits of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and Queen Savang Vattana.

The tsesarevich’s Great Eastern journey took place in 1890-91 and included Italy, Greece, Egypt, India, Ceylon, Singapore, Java, Siam, Vietnam and Japan. From Japan the prince travelled to Vladivostok, where he participated in work building the Trans-Siberian Railway and then traveled through Siberia and all through Russia to return to St. Petersburg.

Visit to Siam

Sergei Trifonov, a senior lecturer at the Department for the Far East at St. Petersburg State University, wrote in his book ‘King Chulalongkorn in Russia,’ Nicholas spent five days in Siam from March 19 to 24, 1891. He was accompanied by Prince George of Greece and his retinue, as well as Prince Esper Ukhtomsky, who was a tutor to Nicholas and later wrote a book about these travels.

“The guests arrived at the mouth of Chao Phraya River on the cruiser Azov. Here the prince was greeted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Siam Prince Devavongse and the Minister of the Court Prince Silpakom. The guests were accommodated on the Royal Yacht Apollo and traveled up river to the walls of the royal palace,” wrote Trifonov. In the following days, Nicholas was shown the capital of Siam, the Grand Royal Palace, the Palace of the Second King, the Royal Country Residence, and was also awarded the highest order of Siam, the Most Illustrious Order of the Royal House of Chakri.

Nicholas was also shown the treasury of the Grand Palace, where he was probably presented with the gifts. In Esper Ukhtomsky’s book, there is a list of items. Apart from those already named, Chulalongkorn gave Nicholas a huge pair of ivory tusks, candelabras in the form of birds on a pedestal, a vase supported by three birds, a dinner service on a gold tray, and also two baby elephants, a young panther, two white monkeys, numerous spotted birds and much more. Ukhtomsky wrote in his diary as they departed Siam: “You depart from Siam, as from a dear old friend”.

Gifts for Russia

The treasures were carefully brought to Russia, and in 1894 were included in a large exhibition of gifts made to Nicholas during his eastern tour. The exhibition took place at Tsarskoe Selo, and afterwards the gifts were sorted. So the Lao-style sabre, Siamese-style sabre, Malay kris with a blade of meteoric iron and the portraits were taken to Kunstkamera for storage and the remaining gifts from King Rama V were sent to the Hermitage.

The gifts survived the October Revolution, the fall of the Soviet Union and Russia’s economic decline in the early 1990s, but despite the careful storage (the museum’s curators are extremely delicate in their work) time has not entirely spared the presents. The sabre’s case has cracks, the blades have darkened and the sheath of the Siamese- style sabre has cracked. So the artifacts require restoration, which can only be entrusted to a highly skilled specialist, able to return these valuables to their original appearance. 

“To carry out this restoration, we need highly skilled specialists and significant resources,” doctor of historical sciences, Elena Ivanova, 80, told RBTH. Ivanova is responsible for the Thailand collections at Kunstkamera. She has studied Thailand’s ethnography for over 50 years. Despite visiting Thailand only once, she has written an entire series of works on Siam’s history and ethnography.

There has already been one successful attempt at restoring antiquities in Thailand. 

For St. Petersburg’s 300th birthday celebrations, the statue of Buddha Maitreya, held at the St. Petersburg Buddhist Temple, was restored in Thailand. The statue was given to the temple by King Rama VI Vajiravudh, for its opening shortly before the October Revolution.

First Russian museum

Last year, Kunstkamera celebrated its 300th anniversary. The museum was founded by Peter the Great in 1714 and became Russia’s first museum. The museum houses a unique collection of historical artifacts from former times, revealing the history and traditions of many cultures. The museum has departments studying the life and people from all over the world: North and South America, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Pacific.

However, the most famous section of the museum is its collection of anatomical rarities and anomalies. The core of the collection was established by Peter the Great, who wanted everything strange and inexplicable to be brought to the museum. He also spent significant sums on purchasing collections in Europe. The Kunstkamera building was completed after his death, and since the beginning of the 18th century has been the symbol of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
For more information on relations between Emperor Nicholas II and King Rama V of Siam, please refer to the article, A True Friend to Russia: Russia's Relations with Siam by Coryne Hall, published in the latest issue of our official magazine.

Royal Russia No. 7 - Winter 2015

© Gleb Federov / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 11 May, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:48 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 12 May 2015 7:05 AM EDT
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Sunday, 3 May 2015
The Tsar with the Dragon Tattoo
Topic: Nicholas II

Long before becoming Emperor of Russia the young Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich embarked on a tour around the countries of the Far East. The journey which took place between 1890 - 1891, took the future Emperor Nicholas II to Egypt, India, Ceylon, Singapore, Java, Siam, China and Japan, and back across the Russian Empire via Siberia covering 51,000 kilometres, including 15,000 km of railway and 22,000 km of sea routes..

In 1891, he made an official visit to Japan. The Russian Pacific Fleet with the Tsesarevich arrived at Kagoshima, and from there he journeyed to Nagasaki, and Kobe. From Kobe, the Tsesarevich journeyed overland to Kyoto, where he was met by a delegation headed by Prince Arisugawa Taruhito. This was the first visit by such an important foreign prince to Japan since Prince Heinrich of Prussia in 1880 and two British princes in 1881, and the military influence of the Russian Empire was growing rapidly in the Far East. So the Japanese government placed heavy emphasis on using this visit to foster better Russo-Japanese relations. 

The visit is remembered for the unpleasant incident which occurred in Otsu in which the Tsesarevich survived an assassination attempt. On 11 May [O.S. 29 April] 1891, he was returning to Kyoto after visiting Lake Biwa together with Prince George of Greece and the Japanese Prince Arisugawa, when Tsuda Sandzo, a policeman jumped at Nicholas’ carriage and managed to inflict several wounds on him with a sabre.

It was during his visit to Japan that the young Tsesarevich showed a keen interest towards traditional Japanese arts and crafts. He had read in travel books about the artistic beauty of Japanese tattoos, and like many other Europeans of his generation, he wanted to have one as an exotic souvenir of his adventures in the Far East. Two of Nagasaki's most skilful tattoo artists arrived at the flagship Pamyat Azova with the tools of their trade. They created a large colour tattoo of a flying dragon on his right forearm. Nicholas wrote in his diary that the process took seven hours!

The archives at Yale University have preserved photographs confirming this fact, and you can make out his tattoo through the images presented in this article. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 03 May, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:00 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 3 May 2015 6:06 AM EDT
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Saturday, 2 May 2015
Why the Murder of Russia's Royal Family Remains Topical a Century After their Deaths
Topic: Nicholas II

Solovyov says the investigation into the murder of the last Tsar and his family has made a unique contribution to scientific development. 
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the May 1st, 2015 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Darya Lyubinskaya, owns the copyright of the work presented below. 

The last Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his family were murdered in 1918 but it is only in the past 25 years that the first truly full investigation has been conducted. RBTH talks about the 1991-2011 probe into the historic killings with Vladimir Solovyov, senior forensic investigator with Russia's Investigation Committee, how it contributed to the development of modern genetics and the role played by famous musician Mstislav Rostropovich and the late former Russian deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov.

Launching an investigation into the murder of the Tsar and his family almost a century after their deaths was facilitated by the fact Russia has no statute of limitations for homicides, explains senior investigator and criminologist Vladimir Solovyov. In Soviet times authorities had no interest in investigating the case.

The key challenge was to prove that the remains found near Yekaterinburg belonged to the Tsar's family. "The work of a criminologist is in exposing myths," Solovyov says. "This was a chance to be involved in a fascinating investigation - one that went beyond my normal range of duties."
Case study

The first murder probe was conducted by White Guards soon after the deaths by investigators named Namyotkin, Sergeyev and Sokolov. In particular a large amount of material was collected by Sokolov - which was to play a major role in the modern investigation.

"We decided to look for everything connected to the 'Sokolov case,'" Solovyov says.

"The Russian military prosecutor's office had four volumes of his materials, but we widened our search worldwide."

After the Bolshevik revolution Sokolov had emigrated and taken many documents with him. Solovyov's first stop in his search for this material was the British Royal Archives, where he was helped by Britain's Russian-speaking Prince Michael of Kent, who is related to the last Tsar. But he failed to find any sensational data. Later he learned that Sokolov's most important documents had at one time fallen into the hands of Count Orlov and that subsequently the count's descendants had auctioned the fascinating material at Sotheby's in London for more than £600,000. They were eventually acquired by Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein who passed them back to Russia in exchange for other documents relating to his own family.

Many famous people helped Solovyov in his quest. Boris Nemtsov, who at the time headed the government commission, authorised forensic and medical experts who equipped and staffed a genetic laboratory. Mstislav Rostropovich sourced donations for genetic analysis and helped buy, in the Japanese city of Otsu, a key artefact – a piece of cloth which held traces of the Tsar's blood. The blood-soaked handkerchief dated back to an 1891 assassination attempt on Nicholas II during a visit to the city. Anatoly Sobchak, the former mayor of St Petersburg had come across the exhibit by accident. But despite many efforts, it was impossible to obtain genetic analysis from the cloth - the fabric turned out to be unsuitable for examination.
Genetic analysis

Initially, genetics experts conducted tests using blood samples from members of the Danish and British royal houses. "The examination was carried out on mitochondrial DNA, so we needed the relatives of the royal family through the female line," Solovyov says. "Alexandra Feodorovna's mother was a daughter of Queen Victoria. And here we were lucky, since Prince Philip, the current Queen Elizabeth's husband, is descended from Queen Victoria."
But the investigators lacked anything with which to compare the modern blood samples. It was only in 2007 that blood suitable for genetic analysis from Nicholas II was discovered.

It turned out that it was literally at the investigators' fingertips all the time; the shirt the last Tsar was wearing on the day of the 1891 assassination attempt in Otsu, complete with testable traces of his blood, was in the collection of St Petersburg's famous Hermitage Museum. The final examination involved several independent geneticist commissions from Russia, the USA and Austria, who came to the same conclusions.

Solovyov says the investigation into the murder of the last Tsar and his family has made a unique contribution to scientific development.

"This case has led to cardinally new approaches," the investigator claims.

"Now, any work related to identifying dead bodies or remains worldwide is conducted according to the techniques developed in the course of the investigation of this case."

Note: The No. 5 Winter 2014 issue of our official magazine, Royal Russia includes an 18-page article and interview with Vladimir Solovyov. For more information, please refer to the following article:

Vladimir Solovyov - Article and Interview

© Darya Lyubinskaya / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 01 May, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:27 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 2 May 2015 6:38 AM EDT
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Thursday, 16 April 2015
Equestrian Portrait of Emperor Nicholas II by Finnish Painter Albert Edelfelt
Topic: Nicholas II

Equestrian Portrait of Emperor Nicholas II. Artist: Albert Edelfelt
Albert Gustaf Aristides Edelfelt was born on 21 July 1854 in Porvoo, Finland. He was the son of Carl Albert Edelfelt, an architect, and Alexandra Edelfelt (née Brandt). His parents were Swedish-speaking Finns. He began his formal studies of art in 1869 at the Drawing School of the Finnish Art Society, and continued as a student of Adolf von Becker (1871-1873). He studied history painting at the Antwerp Academy of Art (1873-1874) before becoming a pupil of Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris (1874-1878). In Paris he shared a studio with the American, Julian Alden Weir, who introduced him to John Singer Sargent. Later he studied at Saint Petersburg (1881-1882). He married Baroness Ellan de la Chapelle in 1888, and they had one child.

In 1896 Edelfelt spent almost the whole of the spring in St. Petersburg, painting two portraits of Tsar Nicholas II. The above portrait of Nicholas II was painted by Edelfelt based on a series of sketches approved by the Emperor. Nicholas II invited the artist to Tsarskoye Selo and later to the Imperial stables in order to capture the horse for the portrait. The completed equestrian portrait of Emperor Nicholas II wearing the uniform of the Preobrazhensky  Regiment was later hung in the Finnish Senate at Helgingfors. Today, it can be seen in National Museum of Finland in Helsinki.

Edelfelt was one of the first Finnish artists to achieve international fame. He enjoyed considerable success in Paris and was one of the founders of the Realist art movement in Finland. He died on 18 August 1905. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 April, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:42 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 19 April 2015 4:48 AM EDT
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