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Saturday, 30 April 2016
Ekaterinburg Ponders Renaming of Districts in Honour of Holy Royal Martyrs
Topic: Ekaterinburg

A map of Ekaterinburg shows the proposed renaming of the city's seven districts in honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs 
This article was written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

The Ekaterinburg City Senate has sent a proposal (pictured below) to Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, for the renaming of the city’s districts in honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs, who were all murdered in the Ipatiev House on 17 July, 1918. The Ekaterinburg Senate is an independent civil body was created in 2013 to provide social control for official Ekaterinburg authorities such as City Duma (Council). A copy of the proposal was also sent to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus.

The Senate proposed to rename the seven city districts as follows: the Upper Iset district would be renamed Alexandrovskii in honour of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna; the Railway district would be renamed Alekseevskii in honour of Tsesarevich Alexei; the Ordzhonikidze district would be renamed Olginskii in honour of Grand Duchess Olga; the Kirov district would be renamed Anastasievskii in honour of Grand Duchess Anastasia; the October district would be renamed Nikolaevskii in honour of Emperor Nicholas II; the Chkalovsky district would be renamed Tatyaninskii in honour of Grand Duchess Tatiana; and the Lenin district would be renamed Mariinskii in honour of Grand Duchess Maria. Also, a proposal was made to build seven churches, one in each district in honour of the Holy Royal Martyr for which it was renamed.

For many years the citizens of Ekaterinburg have tried to come to terms with the murder of Russia’s last emperor and his family in 1918. Earlier this year, a proposal was made to rename the city’s main street from Tolmacheva Ulitsa (Street) to Tsar Ulitsa. This new proposal to rename the city districts is the latest effort to rid Ekaterinburg of crimes crimes committed during Soviet times against the Russian Imperial family and the Church.

Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church have reacted positively to the initiative, now it is up to the authorities to review the proposal and come to a decision, one with great historic significance.


 © Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 30 April, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:23 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 30 April 2016 2:09 PM EDT
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Saturday, 11 July 2015
Man Commits Suicide in Ekaterinburg's Church on the Blood
Topic: Ekaterinburg

A terrible tragedy has occurred in the Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land in Ekaterinburg. On the evening of July 7th, a 27-year-old man walked into the cathedral, proceeded to the altar and fatally stabbed himself in the heart. 

Investigators studying footage of the sequence of events leading up to the final moments of the young mans’ life reveal that a set of surveillance cameras at the church show a young man in a brown shirt and light trousers walking from to the church from the Patriarchal Compound on the opposite side of the square 8:02 in the evening. First he tries to enter through a side entrance of the church - but it is closed, he then proceeds to the stairs - but it is also closed. Finally, he proceeds to the main entrance located on Tolmachev Ulitsa (street).

Upon entering the church, he walks directly toward the altar. At 8:05 he is seen one last time. His right arm is lowered into his pocket, and he walks toward an area not under camera surveillance, where a witness later said, he delivered a strong blow to his chest.

Judging from the video, everything happens almost silently - the parishioners in the church continue to pray after the suicide, apparently unaware of the horrific event that has just taken place. The victim was seen by a man who accidentally turned and watched. He pauses, trying to understand what happened, and then runs for help. 
Surveillance videos show the sequence of events leading up to the final moments of the young mans’ life
Security officials in the church immediately called emergency services at 8:15. An ambulance and police arrived at 8:27, however, it was too late. The victim had stabbed himself with a knife between the ribs, piercing the heart and died instantly. A note was apparently found in the victim’s hand was only a note, signed by the name Romanov. Local media sources have since revealed that the young man believed himself to be a descendant of the last Russian royal family. His mother later explained to police that her son was mentally ill, and in fact no relation to Nicholas II.

The Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land is built on the site of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, where Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, and several members of his family and household were murdered in cold blood by the Bolsheviks, in the early morning hours of July 17th, 1918.

The young man’s suicide has shaken parishioners who come daily to pray at the church, and offered prayers for the deceased. Sadly, his suicide comes on the eve of the Royal Days festival which honours the last Emperor Nicholas II and his family. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:48 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 11 July 2015 8:00 AM EDT
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Monday, 20 April 2015
Nikolai Sokolov: The Man Who Revealed the Story of the Romanov Killings
Topic: Ekaterinburg

Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the April 18th, 2015 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Alla Astanina, owns the copyright of the work presented below. 

In March 1917, the Russian Tsar Nicholas II Romanov abdicated. A year and a half later his life and the lives of his family were cut short at the hands of the Bolsheviks. The details of the execution of the Romanovs may have remained in shadow forever had it not been for the investigative work carried out by Nikolai Sokolov, whose papers later formed the basis for a further probe by the Russian authorities after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A little-known figure in Russian history, in many respects the story of Nikolai Sokolov differs little from millions of other provincial Russians who rose to regional prominence in the latter days of the Russian Empire by dint of their education and ambition. However, it is due to this man that the world can now be sure that it knows the full story of the death of the last Russian tsar.

Sokolov was born in the province of Penza (350 miles southeast of Moscow) on May 22, 1882 and received a degree in law. Before the revolution, he served as a court investigator. By 1917, he had risen to the post of a major case investigator at the Penza district court. After the revolution and the overthrow of the monarchy, he remained faithful to the old system.

"Having taken sick leave, Sokolov went to Siberia," says Vladimir Solovyov, a senior investigator and criminologist of the Main Department of Criminology at the Investigative Committee of Russia and the man who headed the reopened investigation into the case of the murder of the Romanovs from 1993 to 2011.

Beyond the Urals, Sokolov met with representatives of the Siberian government, which was organized by the White Army during the Civil War, and was subsequently hired by the Prosecutor's Office of Irkutsk and, later, Omsk. He found himself in Yekaterinburg with the army of the Siberian government, eight months after the Bolsheviks had executed Nicholas II along with his family in the same city.
Instructions from the top

"On February 5, I was summoned by the Admiral [Alexander Kolchak, White Army commander – RBTH] ... and entrusted with the investigation," Sokolov wrote. He realized that he had been assigned a case that would become of crucial importance for the history of the whole of Russia. "In our judicial work, we often seek the truth, operating with well-known facts. They have a special character here – they are historical facts," he wrote later in his book, Ubiistvo Tsarskoi Semi (“The Murder of the Royal Family").

Now it is clear it would be difficult for our contemporaries to understand the events of that time without his evidence. "The main achievement of Sokolov was that he was able to prove that the royal family was indeed shot," says Solovyov today. "There were a variety of theories about the fate of the Romanovs at that time, including those that led to the appearance of false heirs."

Both testimony and physical evidence led to a single conclusion: "The murder took place on July 17," Sokolov would write later.

As we now know, the Bolshevik officers of the Cheka (the predecessor of the KGB), anticipating the entry of White troops in the city and fearful that the royal family would be rescued, took the family and the members of the household into the basement of Ipatiev House, where they had been kept under house arrest since April 30, and shot them.

Since time was of the essence, after executing their prisoners they took the dead bodies of the Romanovs from Ipatiev House to the village of Ganina Yama, where there was an abandoned mine. "The investigator found a large number of small chopped and burnt bone fragments, things and objects that have been identified by persons close to the royal family," historian Lyudmila Lykova says. At the time Sokolov came up with the suggestion that the bodies were burned, but this conclusion was later disproved. It turned out that after unsuccessful attempts to burn the bodies, the Cheka officers buried them.
Emigration and death

Even when the Whites were forced to retreat to the east after suffering a series of defeats, Sokolov did not call a halt to the investigation. He collected priceless documents, preserved them and took them out of the country, Lykova says. The documents were sent to France in two parts; on a warship and in a special carriage with diplomatic seals. Sokolov himself left Russia for Paris in March 1920.

In Europe, the relatives of the Romanovs distrusted the investigator; they believed that the Tsar's family was alive. In the last years of his life, Sokolov prepared a full report of the investigation for Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, the mother of Nicholas II, and wrote his book based on the investigation. There is evidence that the investigator wanted to secretly return to Russia and to continue the investigation. Sokolov died at the age of 42 in France in 1924. 
© Alla Astanina / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 20 April, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:04 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 20 April 2015 8:11 AM EDT
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Monday, 2 February 2015
Colour Photographs of the Ipatiev House
Topic: Ekaterinburg

Colour photographs of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, 1975
The Ural city of Ekaterinburg is notoriously known as the scene of the murders of the Russian Imperial Family in 1918. It was here that they were taken under house-arrest in the Ipatiev House, also known as the “House of Special Purpose.” 

During the Soviet years, the Ipatiev House was used for a number of purposes. The rare colour photographs presented with this article were taken in 1975, just two years before the building was demolished.   

On August 4, 1975, Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union authorized the demolition of the Ipatiev House, where the last Tsar of Russia and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks almost sixty years earlier.

On of the most dramatic events in Russia’s history is the brutal murder of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, Alexandra and their five children in July 1918. The entire Romanov family was herded into the basement of the infamous house in Ekaterinburg and shot. Their remains were not discovered until 1979.

At first, the Ipatiev House was turned into a museum devoted to the Russian Bolshevik Revolution. The communists took pride in the last prison and execution site of the family, and it was celebrated as a “symbol of justice”. It was often visited by Communist Party members, who would gather around and pose for photographs before the bullet-damaged wall of the basement. Conversely, the house was slowly becoming a place of worship for those wishing to honour the memory of the imperial family. More and more often, the house keepers would find flowers placed at the steps of the house.

The museum was closed down in 1932, and throughout the years served as place for various administrative establishments, before becoming an Anti-Religious Museum in 1938. During the years of World War II, the Ipatiev House turned into a hiding place for exhibits of the State Hermitage museum of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).

With the upcoming 60th anniversary of the execution looming in 1978, the site where the tragedy played out was attracting even more attention, especially from foreign visitors and press. The KGB Chairman, Yury Andropov, had sent a secret note to the Politburo with the proposal to order “the demolition of Ipatiev House in the course of a planned reconstruction of the city,” arguing that “anti-Soviet circles in the West are conspiring various propaganda campaigns around the Romanov Tsar family.”

Within days, the Politburo had approved the proposal, but it was not until two years later that the house was brought down. The task was passed on to the first secretary of the Sverdlovsk region, Boris Yeltsin, who later wrote in his memoirs, “It was impossible to oppose…sooner or later we will be ashamed of this piece of barbarism." On September 6, 1977 the house was bulldozed.

Despite the government’s attempts to try to destroy forever the memory of Russia’s last tsar; people kept coming in secret during the night to leave tokens of remembrance on the vacant site, turning it into a place of pilgrimage. With the beginning of Perestroika, the plot of land where the Ipatiev House once stood attracted an increasing number of faithful. In September 1990, the Executive Committee of Sverdlovsk Region allocated the land to the Russian Orthodox Church and allowed the building of an official memorial site.

Architect Konstantin Efremov took on the role as lead designer, but construction was delayed due to the difficult economic situation in the country during the 1990s. The works resumed in 2000, after Nicholas II and his family were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church. Finally, in May 2003, a five-domed Church on the Blood in Honor of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land was completed to commemorate the Romanovs’ sainthoods.

For more information on the Ipatiev House, please refer to the following article in Royal Russia News:

The Ipatiev House Where the Romanovs Were Murdered: Archived Images includes 14 Photographs 

© Russia Today and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 February, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:36 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 2 February 2015 10:51 AM EST
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Friday, 11 July 2014
Ekaterinburg Prepares for Royal Days
Topic: Ekaterinburg

The Ural city of Ekaterinburg is preparing for its annual celebration of “Royal Days" to be held July 12-20, 2014. During these days, thousands of believers will honour Emperor Nicholas II and his family, who were all murdered in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg in the early morning hours of July 17th, 1918. 

The event which honours the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs draws large crowds in Ekaterinburg each year. Events during this year’s festival include exhibitions, lectures, concerts, liturgies and a religious procession from the Church on the Blood to Ganina Yama. Admission is free.

The ceremonial centres of worship during the "Royal Days" will, according to tradition, be the Church on the Spilled Blood, built on the site of the Ipatiev House, and the Monastery at Ganina Yama, built on the site where the remains of the martyrs were originally disposed of by their murderers.

Many of the pilgrims will begin arriving in Ekaterinburg on July 16th. According to a press service of the Ekaterinburg Diocese, the number of pilgrims from across Russia, and even abroad is growing each year. About 300 people attended in 2000, the first year the "Royal Days" was marked, and last year, in 2013 their number exceeded 50 thousand. Organizers are expecting an even greater number of pilgrims at this year’s event. 

In order to accommodate the large crowds, the ceremonies and a Divine Liturgy will be organized in the open air. A large tent with an altar platform will be erected in front of the Church on the Blood, large video monitors, and a powerful sound system and lighting will be installed.

A Divine Liturgy is scheduled to begin at 11:30 on the evening of July 16th, after which the faithful will participate in a 20 km religious procession from the Church on the Blood to the monastery at Ganina Yama in the early morning hours of July 17th.

As in previous years, Royal Russia will offer full coverage of this year’s "Royal Days" at Ekaterinburg, complete with news, photographs and videos.
This is an enormous event, spreading to more Russian cities each year. Take a moment to review Royal Russia's coverage of the "Royal Days" at Ekaterinburg in 2013, 2012 and 2011: 

2013 - Russia Commemorates the Holy Royal Martyrs - includes 3 videos & 16 photos

2013 - In Memory of the Royal Martyrs ~ 17 July, 1918 - includes 1 video & 3 photos

2012 - Russia Commemorates the Holy Royal Martyrs - includes 4 videos & 25 photos

2012 - In Memory of the Royal Martyrs ~ 17 July, 1918 - includes 1 video & 3 photos

2011 - Pilgrims Pray for the Intercession of the Royal Martyrs in Ekaterinburg - includes 1 video & 20 photos

2011 - In Memory of the Royal Martyrs - 17 July, 1918 - includes 1 video & 15 photos

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 July, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:43 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014 4:15 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 10 June 2014
The Last Mystery of the Romanovs: Following the Killers' Footsteps
Topic: Ekaterinburg

Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the June 7th, 2014 edition of the Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Darya Kezina owns the copyright presented below.

Walk the route the royal family walked during their last days; visit the sites of their death and their possible resting places. Will you unlock one of the most famous mysteries in Russian history?

Yekaterinburg has been trying in vain for years to rid itself of the mournful brand of “the city where they killed the royal family.”

Click on the link below to read the full article at Royal Russia News:

The Last Mystery of the Romanovs: Following the Killers’ Footsteps 

© Darya Kezina / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 07 June, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:00 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 10 June 2014 1:05 PM EDT
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Saturday, 19 April 2014
Ipatiev House - Where the Romanovs Were Murdered - Archived Images
Topic: Ekaterinburg

Photojournalist and historian Vitaly Shytov, author of the new book, 'Ipatiev House. Documentary and Photographic Annals. 1877-1977' 
Photojournalist and historian Vitaly Shytov has dedicated 40 years of study to the tragic history of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg. He has just published his new book, Ipatiev House. Documentary and Photographic Annals. 1877-1977, which features many investigative and archival materials, presenting the most important events in the history of the Ipatiev House in chronological order. 

Shytov’s work provides a unique historical record which documents the importance of the Ipatiev House for the first time. "The country wants to know the truth about his past" - wrote former Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, who was promoted to the post of the first secretary of the CPSU Committee of Sverdlovsk Oblast in 1976 by the Politburo of the CPSU. The   following year, in 1977, as a party official in Sverdlovsk, Yeltsin was ordered by Moscow to destroy the Ipatiev House. 

In 1974, Shytov, an avid photographer, and graduate of the Faculty of Journalism at the Ural State University, began compiling information and photographs. He was offered the curator’s post at the Department of Culture, and during the Soviet years he worked in the Ipatiev House itself.

It was during his employment in the Ipatiev House that he began collecting genuine artifacts of the building. In 1977, when the building was being demolished, Shytov filmed the process using a hidden camera. These photographs are included in his book which are supplemented with additional images from local archives, many of which are published for the very first time.

Ipatiev House. Documentary and Photographic Annals. 1877-1977 is the most complete and detailed history of the famous house in Ekaterinburg. Published in a hard cover edition in Chelyabinsk by the Auto-Count Publishing House, the book features more than 700 pages and more than 1,000 photographs. Only available in Russian.

Vitaly Shytov was present for the book’s launch, held on March 27th, 2014 in the Romanov Memoral Hall of the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum, in Ekaterinburg. The Romanov Memorial Hall was a fitting venue for the book’s launch, for it’s display of preserved fragments of the Ipatiev House, as well as personal items of Tsar Nicholas II, his family and their retainers, discovered after their brutal murders in the early morning hours of July 17th, 1918.

Note: This article is for information purposes only, this book is not available for sale from Royal Russia. 
Click on the link below to view 13 photographs from the book: 

The Ipatiev House - Where the Romanovs Were Murdered - Archived Images  

 © Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 April, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 18 April 2014 6:03 PM EDT
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Friday, 11 January 2013
Romanov Ice Sculptures in Ekaterinburg
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 1 minute, 47 seconds
Topic: Ekaterinburg

For the past 7 years, the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg has played host to the Star of Bethlehem Ice Sculpture Festival.

This year's theme marked the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in which 11 teams took part. Each team created a sculpture of the Holy Royal Martyrs from ice.




© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 January, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:21 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 11 January 2013 8:30 AM EST
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Sunday, 16 September 2012
The Changing Skyline of Ekaterinburg
Topic: Ekaterinburg


Since the fall of the Soviet Union the skyline of Ekaterinburg has changed dramatically. Many historic buildings dating from the Tsarist period have been torn down to make way for modern office towers and luxury condominiums.

Once a "closed city" to foreigners during the Soviet years, the city has taken advantage of its geographical position to become a hub for business between east and west in post-Soviet Russia.

The unique image above is a GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) which depicts the Ekaterinburg skyline as it looked in 1909, then changing to depict it as it looks today. The transformation is astonishing. Dominating the right-hand side of each image is the Ascension Church (which was situated across the road from the Ipatiev House), and dominating the left-hand side of each image is the Rastorguyev-Kharitonov Palace (also situated across from the former Ipatiev House). The dominating building in the 2012 image is of course the Church on the Blood which was built on the site of the Ipatiev House, where the last tsar, Nicholas II and his family were all murdered on July 17th, 1918.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 September, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:16 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 18 September 2012 6:34 PM EDT
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Thursday, 12 July 2012
Tsar Days in Ekaterinburg Begins
Topic: Ekaterinburg


The religious festival Tsar Days (also referred to as Royal Days) opened today in Ekaterinburg and the surrounding Sverdlovsk Region. The event is now in its 11th year is dedicated to the memory of the Tsar-Marytyrs.

The aim of the event is to inform people about the truth of the history of the family of the last Russian tsar, who were all murdered by the Bolsheviks on July 17th, 1918.

Each year thousands of pilgrims come to Ekaterinburg to venerate the saints, visit the places associated with the final days of Tsar Nicholas II and his family.

The culmination of the festival will be the traditional nighttime procession on the eve of July 16/17 which begins at the Church on the Blood (built on the site of the former Ipatiev House). Following a memorial liturgy the pilgrims form a procession and walk the 21-km route from the cathedral to Ganina Yama.

Ganima Yama or Ganya's Pit was a 9-foot deep pit at the Four Brothers Mine located near the village of Koptyaki, situated about 15 km north of Ekaterinburg. In the early morning hours of July 17th the bodies of the tsar and his family were secretly transported to Ganina Yama and thrown into the pit. 

Last year the event welcomed more than 50,000 people from across Russia, as well as other countries. Organizers are expecting an even larger numbers this year.

The Tsar Days at Ekaterinburg runs from July 12-20.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 12 July, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:28 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 13 July 2012 6:18 AM EDT
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