Experts Speak on the Romanov Searches and DNA Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
SEARCH President Captain Peter Sarandinaki
On 14 February, 2016. Captain Peter Sarandinaki and Dr. Michael D. Coble (USA DNA Laboratory) presented their findings on the search for the Romanov remains and the identification of the remains of the children of the last Emperor, Nicholas II the Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Alexis Nikolaevich, and his sister the Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna.
The presentation in English, took place at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (ROCOR) in Washington, DC.
S.E.A.R.C.H. Scientific Expedition to Account for the Romanov Children is a US non-profit organisation dedicated to the restoration of truth in Russia’s history.
Since 1991 SEARCH has worked with universities and organizations in the United States and Russia to initiate archeological expeditions in 1998, 1999, and 2004 to Ekaterinburg, Russia. The purpose of these expeditions was to search for the missing remains of Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Alexis Nikolaevich, and his sister the Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, children of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.
In 2007/2008 SEARCH Foundation’s president Captain Peter Sarandinaki, initiated and coordinated the DNA validation process for newly-discovered remains.
A team made up of the US Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL), the University of Innsbruck Institute of Legal Medicine (ILM) Laboratory, the Ekaterinburg Bureau of Forensic Medicine and Moscow’s Bavilovsky Institute came onboard to conduct DNA studies on the remains of the Romanov family.
Dr. Michael D. Coble, Chief of the AFDIL Research Section, was the lead scientist of the American team.
From 2009-2015, Captain Peter Sarandinaki has led four forensic expeditions to Perm, Russia to search for the remains of Russian Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich and his secretary, Brian Johnson. His team is made up of American, British and Russian forensic experts.
In February 2016, the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral), named Capt. Peter Sarandinaki as their Official Representative with the following statement:
"We hereby certify that Peter A. Sarandinaki (Citizen of the U.S.A.) is named the Official Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on the search and study of the remains of the royal family.”
On July 17th 1998, the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia, and their four faithful retainers Dr. Eugene Botkin, Ivan Kharitonov, Alexei Trupp and Anna Demidova were interred in the Saint Catherine Chapel of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Not only was I both privileged and honoured to attend this historic event, I was also hopeful that the burial would bring some closure to what is considered one of the greatest tragedies of 20th century Russian history. Sadly, this was not to be.
The questions raised by the murders of the Russian Imperial family, including the discovery of their remains in the vicinity of Ekaterinburg, as well as the recognition or non-recognition of their authenticity, have been unsettling both Russian and Western society for the last 25 years. Recently, many people have been looking to the Russian Orthodox Church for its verdict on the matter. But expressing an objective view requires the Church to conduct a thorough examination of the historical records as well as the investigation materials and the results of scientific enquiries.
In September of 2015, I published an article on my Royal Russia blog announcing that the investigation into the Ekaterinburg remains had been reopened. The investigation would include a new series of genetic studies, and a comprehensive review of the evidence accumulated since 1918 into the murders of the last Russian Imperial family. With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and at his request to the Investigative Committee a new team of experts was formed. A complex examination would be carried out for the first time – a historical, anthropological and genetic one - one in which the ROC would be involved in all aspects of the investigation.
More than 20 years of scientific testing, extensive theological debates, and the enormous public outcry for resolution on the issue has failed to deter the Moscow Patriarchate’s decision to resolve the issue any time soon. In early January 2016, Bishop Tikhon of Yegoryevsk noted that the “examination of the Ekaterinburg remains may take several years.” This statement was confirmed the following month during the bishops’ council of the Russian Orthodox Church, when Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia announced at the opening ceremony that “the inquiry will last as long as is necessary in order establish the truth”.
In the last six months, I have published more than 30 news stories and articles on the subject, mainly translated from Russian media sources. During that time, I have received numerous emails and telephone calls from readers frustrated by the ROC's position on the Ekaterinburg remains.
With a lack of reliable information published in the Western media and social forums on the subject, much of what has been written has caused a wave of indignation towards the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Imperial House. Many Westerners felt that the ROC should have taken the findings of the original DNA and forensic tests carried out years prior at face value, simply because a team of "experts" found the remains to be authentic. As Archpriest Oleg Mitrov points out in his recent essay The Investigation Into the Deaths of the Russian Royal Family and Persons of Their Entourage (published in Royal Russia No. 9 Winter 2016, pg. 31-44), in the early 1990s, the Moscow Patriarchate suggested "a temporary burial, then completing the investigation which, once it produced indisputable results, could stop all discord that this question created in society.” Their request fell on deaf ears, "the voice of our church wasn't heard at the time,” added Mitrov.
Non Orthodox Christians must understand the position of the ROC on the matter of both relics and canonization. The Legitimist web site notes: “Any remains of the murdered Imperial Family are ipso facto religious relics, and therefore the internal procedures of the Russian Orthodox Church in completely satisfying itself of their genuineness must be followed. The Russian Orthodox Church wants to address any remaining doubts about the remains, given the fact that, once accepted by the Church as the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, they will become relics venerated by the faithful.”
Given the weight of evidence accumulated by experts in their respective fields since the early 1990s, it is highly unlikely that the Moscow Patriarchate will dispute the remains recovered from the two burial sites in Ekaterinburg between 1979 and 2007 any further. Recent statements made in the Russian media offer some hope that they are moving in that direction:
"The re-examination of the criminal case is not an attempt to reconsider the evidence received earlier and established facts, but rather represents the necessity of additionally investigating the new facts, which was requested by the Russian Orthodox Church," Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told the TASS News Agency (24 September, 2015).
Markin went on to say, "an interdepartmental working group for the study and burial of the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria gave its consent to conducting additional identification studies of the objects previously inaccessible for investigators." To this end, the investigators exhumed the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Blood samples of Emperor Alexander II, Nicholas II’s grandfather who died in a terrorist act in 1881 and whose blood stains are found on his full-dress uniform, kept in the State Hermitage Museum, have also been taken. Additional DNA samples were extracted from Emperor Alexander III in November 2015, in a bid to conclusively answer questions about the fates of Nicholas II and his family.
Markin’s statements would suggest that the Moscow Patriarchate have accepted the Ekaterinburg remains as authentic, although no official statement has yet been issued by the Church.
The Russian Orthodox Church also believe that it is necessary to continue the search for the remains of Nicholas II's children. Presumably, only a small part of the remains of Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria have been found, therefore, the search must be continued, said a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church. The investigation into the criminal case of the murder of the royal family should also include an examination of the remains found by Nikolai Sokolov in the 1920s and later transferred to St. Job’s Church in Brussels.
In the meantime, as the world awaits the final results of the new DNA and forensic studies on the Ekaterinburg remains, and the conclusion of the investigation headed by the Russian Orthodox Church into the deaths of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, further new questions are sure to arise about the fate of the remains.
Here are some further points to ponder on the fate of the Ekaterinburg remains:
in the summer of 2000, the Moscow Patriarchate canonized the Holy Royal Martyrs as Royal Passion-Bearers. The ROC’s official recognition of the Ekaterinburg remains would result in their glorification as saints to be venerated by Orthodox Christians. This will result in an elaborate glorification ceremony headed by Kirill Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia
many people are expecting that the remains of the Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister, Grand Duchess Maria will be interred with those of their family in the Saint Catherine Chapel of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. The ROC’s recognition of these remains would make this highly unlikely. Both the Saint Catherine Chapel and the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral are museums under the administration of the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg, in which visitors must pay an admission to gain entry. This is something that the Church would vehemently oppose, and rightly so
it seems highly likely that the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, Tsesarevich Alexei, and their four faithful retainers would be reinterred in another church. It is very likely that a new church would be constructed in their honour, one which would allow Orthodox Christians to enter freely to venerate the Holy relics. During the past few months, there has been some speculation in the Russian media that such a church would be constructed in Ekaterinburg, which many now consider the center of Orthodox Russia in the Urals
despite the ROC’s earlier statements that the examination and investigation may take years, it seems highly likely that the canonization and veneration of the remains of the Holy Royal Martyrs will take place around the date marking the 100th anniversary of the murder of Russia’s last Imperial family on 17 July 2018
I am very optimistic that both the examination and investigation will conclude before the 2018 centenary. At long last, the remains of all members of the last Russian Imperial family will be laid to rest together. Not only will their holy relics be venerated by the faithful, they will receive the honour which they truly deserve. Their glorification will continue to help Russia heal the wounds of the Bolshevik regicide which has haunted the nation for more than 70 years.
To review more than 30 articles on the Ekaterinburg remains and the Holy Royal Martyrs, please click on the link below:
ROC Seeks Claim to Site of Royal Remains Grave Near Ekaterinburg Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
The Russian Orthodox Church, who has not officially recognized the "Ekaterinburg remains" is already in discussions with local government in staking a claim over the place where their remains were discovered in the 1970s at the Pigs Meadow (Porosyonkov Log). Situated on the north-western outskirts of Ekaterinburg, the site was added to the national cultural heritage list in June 2014.
A high ranking delegation from the Ekaterinburg Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church led by Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye met in February with First Deputy Prime Minister of the Sverdlovsk government Vladimir Vlasov.
The February 19th meeting was attended by First Deputy Prime Minister Vlasov, and provincial ministers: Culture - Paul Krekov, Natural Resources - Alex Kuznetsov, and State Property Management - Aleksey Pyankov. In addition was the director of the Department of Forestry in the region Oleg Sandakov and Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye.
The Ministry of Culture of the Sverdlovsk Region notes that if the ROC recognizes the remains as authentic, then the transfer of the cultural heritage site (3.7 hectares) would be designated as sacred land and transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, where a memorial museum complex, similar to that at Ganina Yama would be constructed.
According to Archpriest Alexei Cullberg, the Church Commission, established in September 2015 at the request of Patriarch Kirill to address the issue of recognition of the royal remains found in Ekaterinburg, come to an unequivocal conclusion: "More research is needed, and, apparently, [new archaeological] excavations in Porosyonkov Log (previous digs were carried out in three previous years: 1979, 1991 and 2007)". Patriarch Kirill noted that “with this in mind the definition of the ROC of its position on this matter may take several years.”
The Pigs Meadow (Porosyonkov Log) which is located about four and a half miles from Ganina Yama, was discovered in the late 1970s through clandestine research but kept secret until the political climate changed in 1989. In 1995, the remains found at the Pigs Meadow were identified as those of Emperor Nicholas II, his wife, three of their five children and four faithful retainers. A second, smaller pit was located about 70m away at the Porosenkov Ravine in 2007 containing the remains of the remaining two Romanov children missing from the larger grave.
It is important to note that should the ROC recognize the Ekaterinburg remains as those of the last Russian Imperial family, that their remains currently interred in St. Catherine’s Chapel of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg would most likely be transferred and reburied with great pomp and ceremony in another church, where their holy relics may be venerated by believers - PG
Further Recommendations Regarding Ekaterinburg Remains Made by ROC Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
Archpriest Oleg Mitrov, member of the Synodal Commission for the Canonization of Saints
The Russian Orthodox Church believes that it is necessary to continue the search for the remains of Nicholas II's children. Presumably, only a small part of the remains of Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria have been found, therefore, the search must be continued, said a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church. The investigation into the criminal case of the murder of the royal family should also include an examination of the remains found by Nikolai Sokolov in the 1920s and later transferred to St. Job’s Church in Brussels.
The search for the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria should continue in and around the Koptyaki Road area near Ekaterinburg, said Archpriest Oleg Mitrov at a recent conference. Mitrov, who is a member of the Synodal Commission for the Canonization of Saints, is also currently engaged in the study of the issues surrounding the murders of Russia’s last royal family.
In July 1991, the remains of nine people were found along the Old Koptyaki Road near Ekaterinburg. They belonged to members of the Russian royal family - 50-year-old Nicholas II, his 46-year-old wife Alexandra, their daughters - 22-year-old Olga, 21-year-old Tatiana, 17-year-old Anastasia, as well as four retainers - 53-year-old Eugene Botkin, 40-year-old Anna Demidova, 62-year-old Alexei Trupp and 48-year-old Ivan Kharitonov. In July 2007 during further archaeological excavations to the south of the original burial site the remains of two other people were found. Experts believe that they are the remains of 13-year-old Tsesarevich Alexei and 19-year-old Grand Duchess Maria.
In July 2007, Nikolai Nevolin, head of forensics for the Sverdlovsk region, told reporters that the remains consisted of 44 bone fragments, from a few millimetres to a few centimetres long. Also found were seven teeth, three bullets and a fragment of a piece of clothing. Archpriest Mitrov believes that there may be more than one grave containing further remains of Alexei and Maria.
According to Archpriest Oleg Mitrov the remains found were marked with "signs of exposure to high temperatures and sulphuric acid". He went on to add that according to expert data, the remains "revealed a sharp discrepancy between the calculated and the actual weight of ash (remains)".
"This indicates that only one of possibly several burial sites of the remains of two people was found during the search operations. It would seem that this conclusion requires the investigation to continue the search, the search for other graves, but it is a task which was ignored. We need to continue to search for other places in which the remains of Tsesarevich Alexis and Grand Duchess Maria were disposed of"- the priest said, noting "the colossal importance of this issue."
Archpriest Oleg Mitrov has also suggested that the investigation into the criminal case of the murder of the royal family should include an examination of the remains found at St. Job’s Church in Brussels. The remains had been handed over by investigator Nikolai Sokolov, who led the murder case of the family of Nicholas II in the years 1919-1924, to Prince Shirinsky-Shikhmatov in 1920. Two decades later, they were solemnly handed over to ROCOR head Metropolitan Serafim and in 1950 were transferred to St. Job's Church in Brussels.
"It is hoped that, in addition to the repetition of genetic examinations, which are unlikely to give any new findings, the examination will end the investigation in other important areas (...) will be able to obtain and analyze samples of skeletal remains, Sokolov sent to Europe, and will also continue to search for other places of burial of the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria"- the priest said during an interview with Interfax-Religion in Moscow.
In July 2015, in an interview with Interfax-Religion, the director of the State Archive of the Russian Federation Sergey Mironenko also expressed hope that the Russian Church Abroad would allow the study of fragments of the Brussels remains to be analysed and compared with the relics of the Ekaterinburg remains.
For more information on the remains found by Sokolov and later transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church in Brussels, please refer to the following articles:
Moscow Patriarchate to Canonize Dr. Eugene Botkin Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
Dr. Eugene Botkin with Emperor Nicholas II
The family-physician of the last Russian emperor and his family Dr. Eugene Botkin is to be canonized by the Moscow Patriarchate. The announcement was made today at a press conference in Moscow by the Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.
"The Council of Bishops has decided to celebrate among the saints Dr. Eugene Botkin" - the Metropolitan said.
Eugene Botkin, son of the famous doctor Sergei Botkin, who had been a court physician under Emperors Alexander II and Alexander III, served as court physician for Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and, while in exile with the family, sometimes treated the haemophilia-related complications of the Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich.
Botkin accompanied the emperor and his family into exile to Tobolsk and later Ekaterinburg. The faithful doctor, aged 53 years, was shot along with the Russian royal family and three other retainers in the early morning hours of July 17th, 1918 in Ekaterinburg.
In 1981, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) canonized the family of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II, his wife, five children, and four faithful retainers - including Botkin - as new martyrs.
In 2000, the Moscow Patriarchate canonized the family of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II, including his wife and five children as passion bearers.
For more information on the canonization of Dr. Botkin, please refer to the following article:
Investigation Into Royal Family Murders to Continue as Long as Necessary - Patriarch Kirill Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
Note: this article has been edited and updated from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
The controversial issue of the “Ekaterinburg remains” will be discussed today during the bishops’ council of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia announced at the opening ceremony of the ecclesiastical court. The bishops’ council will last until 3 February 2016.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said the inquiry into the killing of the family of Nicholas II will be completed once the truth is found.
"I have received the highest-level reassurances that there will be no hurry and no tying down of the end of the inquiry to any particular date. The inquiry will last as long as is necessary in order establish the truth," the patriarch said at the current Bishops' Council in Moscow on Tuesday.
Unlike the situation in the 1990s, the state has given representatives of the Church - archbishops, clerics and invited scientists - "the possibility to participate directly in the inquiry," the patriarch said.
"Expert examination is three-level: historical, anthropological and genetic. An important step of the examination was the taking of samples for genetic tests of the remains ascribed to the saint martyrs, the Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich and the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, as well as the remains of the Emperor Alexander III in the immediate presence of representatives of the Church," the patriarch said.
He pointed out that earlier, in response to his request to re-open the inquiry into "the Ekaterinburg remains" and the exhumation of the remains of Alexander III, "the Russian president gave consent to a full-scale and comprehensive investigation of this topic."
"The Russian Federation Investigative Committee set up a new investigative group whose work is under permanent control of the Investigative Committee chairman, Alexander Bastrykin," the patriarch said.
According to earlier reports, the Investigative Committee had resumed the investigation into the criminal case involving the death of the family of Russia's last emperor. The Investigative Committee said additional tests are being performed to confirm the authenticity of the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria.
Samples of the remains of Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and samples of the clothes of Russian Emperor Alexander II were taken from St. Petersburg to Moscow in September 2015.
The Russian Orthodox Church and some of the Romanov's ancestors believe the authenticity of the tsar’s family remains has not yet been proven. They are hoping that a new investigation will help resolve this issue.
The Investigative Committee completed the investigation into the criminal case involving the death of the family of Nicholas II in January 2011 and recognized the remains found near Ekaterinburg as authentic.
A grave with nine bodies was found on Staraya Koptyakovskaya Road near Ekaterinburg in July 1991. The remains were identified as those of Emperor Nicholas II, his 46-year-old wife Alexandra Feodorovna, their daughters Olga, 22, Tatiana, 21, and Anastasia, 17, and their servants Dr. Eugene Botkin, 53, Anna Demidova, 40, Alexei Trupp, 62, and Ivan Kharitonov, 48.
Members of the imperial family were buried at a sepulcher of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg on 17 July 1998. In 2000, the Moscow Patriarchate canonized the new Russian martyrs and confessors Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna and their five children.
The remains of two more people were discovered during archaeological excavation works 70 kilometers south of the first grave on 26 July 2007. The remains have still not been buried, but numerous expert analyses indicate that the remains are most likely those of Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister Grand Duchess Maria.
Examination of Ekaterinburg Remains May Take Several Years - Bishop Tikhon Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
Note: this article has been edited and updated by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia from the original article published on 31 December, 2015
A new team of experts will be formed to examine the remains of the Russian Royal Family, and a more complex examination is planned, said Bishop Tikhon of Yegoryevsk, a member of the special working group set up by the Russian Investigative Committee, reports the Interfax-Religion News Agency.
“With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and at his request to the Investigative Committee a new team of experts is now being formed. A complex examination will be carried out for the first time – a historical, anthropological and genetic one,” Bishop Tikhon said last week, during an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV channel.
As he noted, the Church is grateful to the country’s leaders who have assured that, “there will be no haste and no deadline will be fixed for carrying out of this examination.”
According to the bishop, there were also attempts to tie down completion of the expert examination to some specific date.
“Now we have been assured that the scientists will be given as much time as they need (approximately 2-3 years), and that the expert examinations will be carried out very thoroughly and by professionals,” Bishop Tikhon said.
Recently the Russian Orthodox Church established a special commission for studying the results of the new examination of the Royal Family members’ remains. The commission is headed by Metropolitan Varsonofy of St. Petersburg and Ladoga.
Earlier a government working group was set up to deal with issues related to the examination and burial of the children of Nicholas II – Tsesarevich Alexei and Grant Duchess Maria – along with a special group at the Russian Investigative Committee. Representatives of the Church are among the members of these commissions.
On September 23, 2015, at the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral of St. Petersburg, in the presence of Church representatives samples from the skeletons of Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna were taken along with blood samples from the clothes of the last emperor’s grandfather – Alexander II – which he was wearing when assassinated in 1881. The samples were delivered to Moscow for testing. In November the tomb of Emperor Alexander III was opened.
Genetic research into the remains of Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra confirmed that the skulls match the skeletons.
Now the second stage of the expert examination is going on. It includes comparing the genetic materials (DNA) of Nicholas II and his spouse with those of Alexei and Maria, establishing the genotype of Alexander III, detecting of hemophilia in the remains of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, her daughters and Tsesarevich Alexei.
In addition to this, the examination of blood from Alexander II’s clothes is to be completed. Work on the servants and small retinue of Nicholas II who were executed together with the Royal Family will also be done.
What's Behind the New Investigation into the Murder of the Romanovs Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
Emperor Nicholas II and his family (1913)
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the January 5th, 2015 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. Darya Lyubinskaya owns the copyright of the work presented below.
Disclaimer: This article has been republished for information purposes only, and does not reflect the views and opinions on the Ekaterinburg remains by Royal Russia - Paul Gilbert
In September 2015 the Russian Investigative Committee resumed an investigation into the death of the family of the last Russian tsar. Investigators exhumed the remains of the Romanovs, who had been buried in the Peter and Paul Fortress, and took DNA samples from Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna. Official accounts states that the Romanovs were murdered on the night of July 16/17, 1918. However, their deaths remain clouded in legend. Could any members of the family have been saved? RBTH responds to the most important questions concerning the death of the last Russian royal family.
How were the remains discovered?
The remains of the five members of the royal family and their servants were found near Yekaterinburg in 1991. The remains of Tsarevich Alexey and Grand Duchess Maria were missing. Experts were divided in their opinions on the burial: some said it was the royal family, others denied it. The Russian Prosecutor General's Office carried out an investigation that helped identify the remains. After this they were buried in the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg.
Why has the investigation begun anew?
In 2007 excavators found the remains of the other two family members - Alexey and Maria. Since then they have been kept in the Russian State Archive, but experts are fighting for them to be buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral together with the royal family.
At the end of November the case was transferred to the Department of Investigation of Extremely Important Matters and the remains of Tsar Alexander III were exhumed in order to conduct further genetic analysis.
Who investigated the matter before?
There were two investigations. The first one was carried out by White Guard (royalist) investigators Nametkin, Sergeev and Sokolov. The latter collected most of the material that played a key role in the investigation.
The second investigation was conducted in 1993, when the Russian Prosecutor's Office launched criminal proceedings in the case.
Russian law has no statute of limitations for premeditated murders, which is why the case of the royal family was investigated.
Why is the new investigation important for the Russian Orthodox Church?
In 2000 the Russian Orthodox Church canonized the members of the royal family, who are now venerated as "royal martyrs." That is why it is of great importance that no mistake is made in whose remains are buried in the Peter and Paul Fortress.
The church supports the position of historian and academician Benjamin Alexeev, who doubts that the "Yekaterinburg remains" belong to the royal family.
Why does the historian doubt it?
The academician cites a waitress who said she served lunch to the daughters of Nicholas II's after the official date of the murder.
Moreover, information found in an archive belonging to former investigator Sokolov points to the fact that after the Romanov's death, the Soviet government conducted talks with German diplomats on the "defense of the life of the royal family."
Citing foreign colleagues, Alexeev also says that former German Emperor William II, being Grand Duchess Olga's godfather, provided her with a pension until 1941.
Another confusing fact is that next to the bones of the remains of Alexei and Maria the excavators found coins dating from 1930.
And is the historian mistaken?
Many think so. For now each of his arguments has found a counter-argument: the waitress was intentionally confusing the "white investigation;" the Bolsheviks wanted to keep the murder of the royal family a secret and continued the negotiations; the 1930 coins found their way into the ground after burial.
Could someone from the royal family have survived?
Such a version does exist. Many believe that the burial was faked, staged by the Soviet government after the revolution, while the royal family managed to entirely or partially save themselves.
A Polish-American woman by the name of Anna Anderson used to present herself as Grand Duchess Anastasia. This was confirmed by Grand Duke Andrey, Nicholas II's cousin. However, other members of the royal house issued a Romanov Declaration in which they refused to acknowledge kinship with her.
Were there other impostors?
There were at least 230 of them: 34 Anastasias, 53 Marias, 33 Tatyanas and 28 Olgas. Alexey had the most "clones" - 81. Two women even said they were the tsar's non-existent daughters: Alexandra and Irina.
What did they want?
It is believed that the royal family had savings in European banks. That is what the impostors ultimately sought. Anna Anderson fought the banks in court for 40 years without success.
Remains of Tsesarevich Alexey, Grand Duchess Maria Transferred to Novospassky Monastery Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
Novospassky Monastery in Moscow
Note: this article has been edited from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
The remains of two children of Russia's last Emperor Nicholas II, Tsesarevich Alexey and Grand Duchess Maria, have been transferred to the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow, said Sergey Mironenko, Director of the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF) and a member of the governmental working group.
"The remains have been transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church and are now in the Novospassky Monastery," he said.
On Wednesday, the Russian government press service reported on the decision to transfer the remains of Tsevarevich Alexey and Grand Duchess Maria from the State Archive to the Russian Orthodox Church. The remains will be stored in the Russian Orthodox until the end of the investigation.
Alexander Zakatov, Director of the House of Romanov Chancellery, told Interfax the Moscow Novospassky Monastery is historically connected to the Romanov family.
"The sepulcher of the forefathers of the dynasty before its enthronement is located there. Future Patriarch Filaret Romanov was father superior of this monastery for some time. Additionally, the remains of Grand Duke Sergey Alexandrovich, who was killed by terrorists, was transferred to the monastery in our time," Zakatov said.
The House of Romanov is led by Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, who lives in Spain.
"Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna loves all churches and monasteries, but this monastery is special, the remains of many of her ancestors rest there," Zakatov said.
"If there is at least some hope that the Yekaterinburg remains are related to the tsar's family, it is right that they have been transferred to the church and have now been placed in the Novospassky Monastery," a representative of the House of Romanov said.
The government press service earlier reported a comparative study of the remains of Emperor Alexander III and the remains of Emperor Nicholas II is now being conducted as part of the criminal case and scientists expect to get the first results of this study in January 2016.
The new genetic tests aim to resolve the issue of authenticity of the remains of Russia's last Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and their children.
Remains of Alexei and Maria Handed Over to Russian Orthodox Church Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna and Tsesarevich Alexey Nikolaevich
Note: this article has been edited from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
A decision has been made to transfer the remains of Tsesarevich Alexey and Grand Duchess Maria from the Russian State Archive into the protective custody of the Russian Orthodox Church, a government spokesperson said on Wednesday.
"The inter-agency working group on issues relating to the inquiry and burial of the remains of Tsesarevich Alexey and Grand Duchess Maria, which have been kept in storage at the Russian Federation State Archive, jointly with the Russian Orthodox Church have decided to transfer the remains of Tsesarevich Alexey and Grand Duchess Maria from the Russian State Archive into the protective custody of the Russian Orthodox Church before the end of the inquiries conducted as part of the criminal case N252/404516-15 into the killing of members of the Russian Imperial House in the Urals and in Petrograd in 1918-1919," the spokesperson said in a statement obtained by Interfax.
"At present, the International Center for Genetic Epigenetic Studies of the Institute of Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences is conducting comparative analyses of the remains of the Emperor Alexander III and those of the Emperor Nicholas II as part of the criminal inquiry. The initial results of these analyses are expected in January 2016," the spokesperson said.
"The presumed remains of the Tsesarevich and the Grand Duchess were laid at one of cathedrals of the Russian Orthodox Church," Archbishop Tikhon of Yegoryevsk, the secretary for the Patriarchal Culture Council and a member in a special working group set up by the Russian Investigative Committee, told Interfax-Religion.
He would not name the cathedral, saying only that it was not the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, and that the presumed remains were at the church for storage only, not on display for worshippers.
According to earlier reports, the Investigative Committee had resumed the investigation into the criminal case involving the death of the family of Russia's last emperor. The Investigative Committee said additional tests are being performed to confirm the authenticity of the remains of Tsesarevich Alexey and Grand Duchess Maria. Their remains were stored in the State Archive in Moscow.
Samples of the remains of Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and samples of the clothes of Russian Emperor Alexander II were taken from St. Petersburg to Moscow in September.
The Russian Orthodox Church and some of the Romanov's descendants believe the authenticity of the tsar family remains has not been proven yet. They are hoping that a new investigation will help resolve this issue.
The Investigative Committee completed the investigation into the criminal case involving the death of the family of Nicholas II in January 2011 and recognized the remains found near Yekaterinburg as real.
A grave with nine bodies was found on Staraya Koptyakovskaya Road near Yekaterinburg in July 1991. The remains were identified as those of Emperor Nicholas II, his 46-year-old wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, their daughters Olga, 22, Tatyana, 21, and Anastasia, 17, and their servants Yevgeny Botkin, 53, Anna Demidova, 40, Alexey Trupp, 62, and Ivan Kharitonov, 48.
Members of the imperial family were buried at a sepulcher of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg on 1998. In 2000, the Russian Church canonized the new Russian martyrs and confessors Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna and their five children.
The remains of two more people were discovered during archaeological excavation works 70 meters south of the first grave on July 26, 2007. The remains have still not been buried, but numerous expert analyses indicate that the remains are most likely those of Tsesarevich Alexey and his sister Maria.