Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attended a gala ceremony in the Crimean city of Yalta on 18th November, unveiling a monument to Emperor Alexander III (1845-1894).
Presidential Plenipotentiary Representative in the Southern Federal District Vladimir Ustinov, Crimea’s head Sergei Aksyonov, Sevastopol’s Governor Dmitry Ovsyannikov, Metropolitan Lazarus of Simferopol and Crimea, Crimea’s Mufti Emirali Ablayev and other dignitaries along with students took part in the ceremony.
Mr Putin said that while Alexander III was often called the “peacemaker” because he waged no large-scale wars while leading the empire from 1881-1894, he “gave Russia 13 years of peace not by yielding but by a fair and unwavering firmness”.
He added that the emperor had modernised the military and begun construction of the Trans-Siberian railway.
The monument bears a saying popularly attributed to Alexander III and often quoted by Mr Putin: “Russia has only two allies, her army and fleet”.
The four-meter-high monument by Russian sculptor Andrey Kovalchuk was made of bronze at a plant in the Urals.
The monument to the emperor has been installed on the site where the Maly (Small) Livadia Palace was built in the 19th century. The palace was a summer retreat for Alexander III who died there aged 49. During World War II the palace was destroyed by Nazi invaders.
Click here to watch a video of the gala ceremony held in Livadia on 18th November.
Full view of the monument to Emperor Alexander III by Russian sculptor Andrey Kovalchuk
On 22 August, a new bust of Emperor Alexander III was unveiled in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea.
“The monument was made possible thanks to private donations”, said Vladimir Shpatakov the director of the Orthodox publishing house Rodnoye Slovo.
“I sincerely wanted to make a gift to Simferopol” - said Shpatakov - “Alexander III, the great Russian emperor, was one of the most brilliant and worthy representatives of the Romanov family, and I would like to perpetuate the memory of the outstanding statesman of Russia in the Crimea.”
"I would like our people to remember that we are heirs of Orthodox Russia," noted Shpatakov - “in Simferopol there are many monuments to Lenin, among other figures of the communist era, but there is not even a street that bears the name of Alexander III.”
The monument was installed in an arbour made from Siberian larch. The base of the bust and the frame of the monument are made of gray granite and marble. The monument itself is made of bronze. The artist of the bust is the sculptor Oleg Rodzevich. Near the monument is a memorial plaque which notes the main milestones of the life of Alexander III.
Emperor Alexander III died at his estate in Livadia on 1 November, 1894.
Other monuments to Emperor Alexander III in Crimea include:
A bust of Emperor Alexander III (1845-1894) was unveiled in front of Massandra Palace in the south of Crimea on 1st June. The palace was built for the tsar, however, he did not live to see it’s completion.
"We pay tribute to Alexander III - a true son of his country, who gave Russia peace during his reign from 1881 to 1894. Massandra is unique in its architecture, one which evokes the spiritual fullness of this place, created by the famed Russian architect Maximilian Egorovich Messmacher, whose 175th anniversary we celebrate today", - said the head of the Ministry of Culture Arina Novoselskaya during the ceremony.
Construction of Massandra began in 1881 and was funded by the son of Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov, Semyon Mikhailovich (owner of the Vorontsov Palace at Alupka) who had just returned from the 1877-78 Russo-Turkish War. The construction of the palace that was initially designed by French architect Étienne Bouchard in the Louis XIII style was soon suspended after the death of Prince Semyon Mikhailovich Vorontsov.
In 1889 the unfinished palace was bought by the Russian Imperial Domains Agency for Emperor Alexander III. The construction was renewed on a design by Messmacher. Construction was completed in 1902, during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II, who renamed it the Alexander Palace, in memory of his father. While Massandra became one of the official Imperial residences, no member of the Imperial family ever resided there, preferring the neighbouring Livadia Palace.
The solemn opening ceremony of the monument took place with the support of the Ministry of Culture as part of the festive event Massandra Palace: from Royal Residence to the Present Day, timed to the 25th anniversary since the opening of Massandra Palace as a museum.
During the event, the great-grandson of the architect Oleg Kondiain donated items to the museum, which belonged to his ancestors.
The basis of the museum collection include exhibits from the collections of the Vorontsov Palace in Alupka and the Crimean estates previously owned by members of the Imperial family.
The consecration of the monument to Emperor Alexander III was performed Metropolitan of Simferopol and Crimea Lazar.
On 18th May, International Museum Day, a unique collection of personal belongings of Emperor Alexander III were put on display at the Vologda State Historical-Architectural and Art Museum-Reserve. The items come from the vast collection of Hermann Alexander Beyeler, a Swiss entrepreneur and collector, who claims to be a direct descendant of the Tsar Peacemaker. Beyeler claims that the items have been in his family for two generations.
The items from the Beyeler Collection, currently on loan to the Vologda Museum include a portrait of Emperor Alexander III by the Russian artist Nikolay Gustavovich Shilder (the original painting is now in the Military History Museum of Artillery in St. Petersburg), a porcelain plate bearing the monogram of the emperor, his 1883 coronation glass, and his death mask. Of particular interest is an album containing 15 photographs of the Borki train disaster on 29 October (O.S. 17 October) 1888.
Beyeler transferred the historic items to the museum for free use for a period of 20 years, noting that at the expiration of the term that they would most likely remain part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Beyeler claims to be a direct descendant of the Tsar Peacemaker, that his maternal great-grandmother, a Polish noblewoman, had at one time had an affair with Emperor Alexander III, and that she bore an illegitimate son - Beyeler's grandfather.
"They say my grandfather was the illegitimate son of Alexander III” - said Beyeler - “the Emperor was living at Spala, his hunting lodge in Poland. We have an old photograph, which shows my grandfather sitting on the Emperors’ knee. I was told that my grandfather sang very well, and that Alexander III often asked him to sing something."
After the October Revolution of 1917, Beyelers grandfather escaped Russia, fearing for the lives of his wife and two daughters. They arrived in Paris, where Beyeler's mother Helena Lisicki was born in 1925. After the occupation of Paris in 1943, she was deported to a concentration camp in Poland, however, she managed to escape to Switzerland, where she met her future husband and married him.
Helena Lisicki had four children. According to Beyeler, it was not until shortly before her death that she divulged to them that “our grandfather was the illegitimate son of Russian Tsar Alexander III". Beyeler, insists that his middle name Alexander, was given him in memory of his imperial ancestor.
When asked about the DNA test to prove his descent from the Russian Imperial family, Beyeler conveniently adds that he “does not want to talk, the results were clear,” he says, believing the results confirm his Romanov connection. His reluctance to make public the results of any DNA tests, merely leads to speculation about his claim.
On This Day - Emperor Alexander III was Born Topic: Alexander III
Portrait of Emperor Alexander III. Artist: Valentin Serov (1895)
Note: this article has been edited and updated from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
On 10 March (O.S. 26 February), 1845 in St. Petersburg, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna the wife of Grand Duke Alexander Nikolayevich (future Emperor Alexander II) gave birth to a son, Alexander, the future Russian Emperor Alexander III.
As the second son, Alexander was not intended to ascend the throne, and was primarily prepared for military service. After the death of his elder brother Nicholas in 1865, Alexander became heir to the throne and was given more extensive and fundamental education. Among his mentors were Professor of Russian History S. M. Soloviev, philologist and academician J. K. Groth, General M. I. Dragomirov. The greatest influence on the Tsesarevich was a professor of jurisprudence, law professor K. P. Pobedonostsev.
In 1866, Alexander married his late brother's fiancée, the daughter of Danish King, Princess Dagmar, who took the Orthodox name of Maria Feodorovna. The couple had had six children (five whom survived to adulthood), the eldest of whom - Nicholas, was the last Russian emperor.
Alexander held various military posts, including ataman of all the Cossack troops, the commander of the St. Petersburg Military District and the Corps of Guards. In 1868 he became a member of the State Council and the Committee of Ministers. During the Russian-Turkish War (1877-1878) the Tsesarevich commanded the Ruschuksky detachment in Bulgaria. After the war, along with Pobedonostsev, he contributed to the creation of the Voluntary Fleet - joint-stock shipping company to assist in foreign economic policy of the Russian government.
Alexander III ascended the throne after the assassination of his father by terrorists in March 1881. During the first months of his short 13-year-reign, the new emperor hesitated in choosing the course of his reign: either adopt the engagement of elected representatives into governing, or follow the old path of unlimited autocracy. Urged by Pobedonostsev, in April 1881 Alexander III issued the manifesto, "Manifesto on Unshakable Autocracy," which led to the resignation of Mikhail Loris-Melikov and his supporters. In August of that year, the "Regulations on the Measures for the Protection of National Security and Public Safety" was adopted Governors were now authorized to close the press, commercial and industrial enterprises, educational institutions, to suspend the activities of local authorities and town councils. Published as a "temporary one" for the period of three years, this "Regulations" had been constantly renewed and remained in effect up to 1917.
During his reign, new government policy was quite different from the reforms of Alexander II and his inner circle - the liberal-minded ministers. The beginning of the reign of Alexander III was characterized by toughening of administrative and police repressions and censorship, in particular, were adopted the "Provisional Regulations on the Press" (1882), according to which the administration had the right to close any newspaper and magazine, deprive publishers and editors of the right to continue their occupation.
The university charter of 1884 curtailed the autonomy of higher education: The University Court was abolished, student unions were prohibited, and the entire university life was led by the state official, trustee of the academic district.
Zemstvo Regulations (1890) and Municipal Regulations (1892) tightened control over local government by limiting the rights of voters from the lower strata of society. The reform had weakened the principle of election, narrowed the range of issues solved by the municipality, and expanded the scope of governmental powers.
At the same time a number of measures was taken to facilitate the financial situation of the people and mitigating social tensions in society: compulsory redemption, reduce of purchase payments, and the establishment of the Peasant Land Bank, the introduction of factory inspection, phased abolition of the capitation.
During the reign of Alexander III, Russia enjoyed strong economic growth, largely due to the policy of the domestic industry protection. Thanks to the work of several Russian finance ministers, N. H. Bunge, I. A. Vyshnegradsky, S. Yu. Witte, the revenues of the state treasury had increased. The government of Alexander III encouraged the growth of large-scale capitalist industry, which achieved significant success: metallurgy industry production had doubled in 1886-1892, and the network of railways in this period increased by 47%.
Foreign policy under Alexander III differed by the desire to save Russia from participation in international conflicts. The main change in the Russian foreign policy was the shift from the traditional co-operation with Germany to the alliance with France concluded in 1891-1893. During the reign of Alexander III the Russian Empire waged no wars, so that the Russian autocrat was nicknamed "the tsar-peacemaker."
In 1894, Alexander III became ill with incurable kidney disease (nephritis). He died at Maly Palace in Livadia on the afternoon of 1 November [O.S. 20 October] 1894, at the age of forty-nine.
Stolen Diaries of Emperor Alexander III Recovered by Russian Police Topic: Alexander III
The Moscow Criminal Investigation Department recently arrested a man after he attempted to sell some rare books of “great historical and cultural value” to a Moscow dealer. Among the books were three unique volumes, including the 1864 diary of Tsesarevich Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich - the future Emperor Alexander III, who ruled Russia from 1881 to 1894. This sensational find, miraculously coincides with the examination of the remains of Emperor Alexander III currently being held in St. Petersburg and Moscow.
The 1864 diary contains daily handwritten entries by the future Russian emperor. On the last page, he wrote: "A Good Year." The other two volumes - dated 1888 and 1892 are calendars or day timers, with handwritten notes made by the emperor on each page.
During the investigation it became clear that the diaries originated from the collections held in the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF) in Moscow, but disappeared from the collections many years ago under mysterious circumstances. According to GARF Deputy Director Elena Aniskina, the diaries went missing sometime in the 1980's, however, the theft was only discovered 10 years ago.
The Moscow Criminal Investigation Department presented the diaries to Sergei Mironenko, Director of the State Archive of the Russian Federation in Moscow today.
Alexander III's Tomb to be Opened for DNA Study on Tuesday Topic: Alexander III
Emperor Alexander III
Note: this article has been edited from the original by Paul Gilbert
Experts are planning to begin the study of the remains of Emperor Alexander III this week in a new DNA study within the criminal probe into the death of the last Russian Imperial family in July 1918.
"It is expected that the tomb of Emperor Alexander III in the St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral in St. Petersburg will be opened up on Tuesday," a source told Interfax on Nov.23.
The emperor's remains will be exhumed and his samples will be sent to Moscow for analysis.
Russia's Investigative Committee resumed the investigation into the death of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II and his family in September. Investigators said that additional studies were organized to confirm the authenticity of the remains of Nicholas' children, Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria. Their remains are currently kept in the State Archive in Moscow.
The remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife, Empress Alexandra were sent to Moscow for the purpose of the comparing their DNA with pieces of clothing containing blood samples of Emperor Alexander II.
The new DNA study is confirming earlier conclusions of the authenticity of the remains of the last Russian imperial family that were murdered by the Bolsheviks in Ekaterinburg, Evgeny Rogayev, head of the human genomics and genetics department of the Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Interfax in November.
Tomb of Emperor Alexander III May Have Been Opened Before - Russian Orthodox Church Topic: Alexander III
Bishop Tikhon of Yegoryevsk, Secretary of the Patriarch's Council on Culture
Note: this article has been edited from the original Interfax and TASS articles, and further amended by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
The Russian Orthodox Church does not rule out that the grave of Emperor Alexander III in SS Peter and Paul Cathedral could have been opened before.
"We are not alleging anything, we are not alleging that the grave was invaded, although we believe it could have happened. The only thing we are alleging now is that the headstone was disassembled and then assembled again," Bishop Tikhon of Yegoryevsk, secretary of the Patriarch's Council on Culture, told a press conference in Moscow on Friday.
"It is possible that the tsar's remains were disturbed, there could have been looting and they are in an inappropriate condition," the bishop said.
The announcement is backed by *Dr. Marina Logunova, chief research associate at the St. Petersburg State History Museum. "There is evidence from the 1920s, including publications by Polish newspapers, that the tombs of Peter I and Alexander III had been opened, but there are no official documents confirming this," she told TASS.
The bishop said a possible opening of the grave is indicated by the absence of metal belts holding the marble covers of the headstones, which was discovered by experts who worked in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral.
The bishop also said garbage, traces of asbestos and plaster and broken stones had been found under the headstone cover.
Experts now have to lift the stone under the headstone, he said, reiterating that all actions are recorded on video and photographed.
Bishop Tikhon said graves in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral have been opened before, possibly multiple times. He said there is evidence of the opening of tsars' graves, including Peter I and Alexander I, adding that the remains of the latter were not found, the grave was empty and that evidence can become "a weighty argument" to the Russian Orthodox Church. "We are not brushing any evidence aside, we are trying to check it," he said.
Church head Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow and All Russia asked the government in October to do comparative genetic studies of remains of Emperor Nicholas and his father, Alexander III. This follows Investigative Committee resumed criminal proceedings earlier in the autumn into the slaying of members of the Romanov Imperial Family.
The Russia's Orthodox Church believes that positive findings of these forensic studies will deliver incontestable proof of the genuineness of tsarist remains and an opportunity for assigning to them the status of holy relics.
Meanwhile, Alexander Zakatov, spokesman for the Romanov Imperial House in Russia, told TASS in an interview that final conclusions about authenticity of the remains of the Russian Imperial family would be premature. "The head of the House of Romanov, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, welcomed resumption of the investigation and the fact that the state has accommodated the Russian Orthodox Church request," said Zakatov.
"However, the remains of Emperor Alexander III [the father of Nicholas II] have not been studied yet. The facts made public today are just interim results of the investigation, a comparison with certain remained samples," he added. "So far these results are consistent with the version that the Ekaterinburg remains may belong to the Imperial family. It’s premature to speak of a final decision yet. There are doubts, there are questions - all these questions, both genetic and historical ones, require an answer."
Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia with Dr. Marina Logunova the chief historian for the State Museum of St. Petersburg.
*NOTE: I would like to add that during my visit to St. Petersburg in December 2014, I was invited to meet with Dr. Marina Logunova the chief historian for the State Museum of St. Petersburg, and the woman behind the restoration of the Cathedral of Peter and Paul - final resting place for generations of Romanovs, including the last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family. Dr. Logunova provided me with a private tour of the Grand Ducal Mausoleum.
It was during this tour that I took the opportunity to ask her about the popular theory that the Bolsheviks opened and robbed the graves of the Romanovs after the Revolution. "I can confirm that some of the graves were opened by the Bolsheviks, however, an inspection of these graves in 1992-93 failed to show any evidence that they had been tampered with," she said, "I can also add that there are no documents in the archives to support claims that the Bolsheviks had robbed or desecrated them." Source: A Short Summary of My December 2014 Visit to St. Petersburg
Emperor Alexander III's Tomb to be Opened in Late November Topic: Alexander III
Emperor Alexander III
The tomb of Emperor Alexander III will be opened at the end of November as part of a new inquiry into the death of the last Russian royal family, Vladimir Solovyov, a senior criminologist and investigator at the Main Criminalistics Department of the Russian Investigative Committee (RIC).
"The tomb will most likely be opened in late November, around the last days of the month," he said.
A group of RIC experts travelled to the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg on Friday to examine the exterior of Alexander III's tomb, he said. "This is the interim stage, we are examining the exterior of the tomb. We are not opening anything today," he said.
The DNA analysis of the remains of the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II, is in the final stages, Solovyov said. "A final document is being drafted. So far I cannot unveil the results," he said.
The DNA tests continue of the doctor and three servants who were murdered by the Bolsheviks along with the royal family, Solovyov said. "Part of this work has already been completed," he said.
"We are being very positive. Our forecast is very optimistic," Solovyov said.
There has yet been no decision over the delivery of the remains of Nicholas II's sister-in-law, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, from Israel to Moscow for DNA tests, he said
"We've raised this issue. The remains are in Jerusalem. I cannot say for now at what stage the negotiations are between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian foreign church," Solovyov said.
"Our aim is not to open all tombs. We want to achieve maximum result with the minimum of means. If there is a good result in the identification of the remains of Alexander III and Nicholas II, we can adjust our plans for subsequent examination, including of the remains of Elizabeth Feodorovna," he said.
All tests are likely to be completed by the beginning of 2016, he said. "I am not sure we will finish before the end of this year. We don't know in what condition the remains of Alexander III are and how the DNA tests will proceed. For now I cannot say when exactly we will finish," he said.
Russia to Exhume Alexander III as Romanov Probe Widens Topic: Alexander III
Emperor Alexander III
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the October 27th, 2015 edition of The Moscow Times. Howard Amos owns the copyright of the work presented below. Please note that articles published on this blog are for information purposes only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Royal Russia. This article has been edited by Paul Gilbert.
Russian investigators said Monday that they will exhume the remains of Russian Tsar Alexander III to confirm the identity of two of his grandchildren, who were murdered alongside their father, Tsar Nicholas II, by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
The bodies of Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra were disinterred from their resting places in St. Petersburg's Peter and Paul Fortress by Russia's Investigative Committee last month.
The probe into the identities of the two royal children, Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna, was requested by the Russian Orthodox Church in the face of historical consensus — and the enquiries have been criticized by historians as unnecessary and disrespectful.
“The state does not want a conflict with the Russian Orthodox Church,” said Nikolai Svanidze, a prominent historian and member of Russia's Public Chamber. “It's not a historical or a genealogical question but a political one."
A resurgent Orthodox Church has taken an increasingly prominent role in Russian society in recent years, and critics suggest that it wields an undue influence over policy-making in a country where church and state are separate under the Constitution.
Alexander III became tsar in 1881 after his father was killed by a terrorist's bomb. His 13-year reign was known for its deep conservatism. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Nicholas II, in 1894.
The exhumation is likely to take place in the second half of November, senior investigator Vladimir Solovyov said Monday, news agency Interfax reported.
“At the initiative of his holiness the Patriarch, a decision has been made to open the tomb of Emperor Alexander III. Everything depends on the technical conditions,” Solovyov said.
The exhumation was reportedly backed by the Russian Imperial House, an organization that represents living descendants of the Romanovs. "This inspires hope that the mistakes of the past will be taken into account," Alexander Zakatov, a representative of the organization, was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Most of the remains of the imperial family were discovered near the Urals city of Yekaterinburg (then known as Sverdlovsk) in 1979, though it was not until 1991 that they were formally identified. Alexei and Maria were only unearthed in 2007. After being rounded up and killed in a basement by the Bolsheviks during fighting in the Civil War, the bodies of Russia's last tsar and his family were dowsed in acid and burned before being buried.
The remains of the two children, currently being held by Russia's State Archive, were due to be buried with the rest of the imperial family this month, but the ceremony was delayed because of protestations from the Orthodox Church, which insisted on additional research into their identity.
The Moscow Patriarchate canonized Nicholas II, his wife and their five children — including Maria and Alexei — in 2000 after a debate over the family's role in hastening the onset of revolution.
In July, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered the creation of a working group to look into the question of the remains of the imperial family, and Russia's powerful Investigative Committee reopened a criminal case into their deaths on Sept. 23. The case was originally closed in 2008.
“The Investigative Committee is always ready to help the Church,” investigator Solovyov told state-owned Rossiiskaya Gazeta earlier this month. “Orthodox Church representatives have announced more than once that there are doubts about the authenticity of the remains because Church scholars were not involved in the process,” he said.
As part of the probe, Nicholas II and his wife were exhumed last month in the presence of senior Orthodox officials in St. Petersburg. Investigators have also taken samples from a blood-soaked coat that Tsar Alexander II — Maria and Alexander's great-grandfather — was wearing when he was fatally injured by the terrorist's bomb in 1881, and are reportedly seeking access to the remains of the last empress' sister, Grand Duchess Elisabeth of Russia, which are currently in Israel.
Investigators removed a small fragment of the head of Nicholas II during last month's exhumation in order to disprove a theory that the tsar's head was cut off after his murder and brought to Moscow to be shown to Lenin, investigator Solovyov said earlier this month.
But historians have criticized the current investigation into the identities of the last Romanov family members as baffling because of a large body of conclusive historical work on the subject.
“I have no doubts [about the identities of the bodies] and every specialist — historians, criminologists, genealogists — have no doubts because all expert examinations have been carried out,” said Yevgeny Pchelov, a historian and expert on the Romanovs at the Russian State University for the Humanities.
“Respect for professionalism has been completely lost in our society,” he said.