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.
BREAKING NEWS! Update on the Ekaterinburg Remains Investigation Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
Members of the Russian Orthodox Church participate in the new investigation of the Ekaterinbug remains
The Interfax News Agency (Moscow) issued the following articles today in the ongoing investigation of the murder of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, including the new forensic studies on the Ekaterinburg remains and Emperor Alexander III.
Experts Open Grave of Alexander III in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, November 27, Interfax - Specialists have opened the sarcophagus of Alexander III and are taking samples for tests, a source with knowledge of the situation told Interfax.
"The sarcophagus has been opened, samples of the remains of Alexander III are being taken for tests. Earlier procedures showed that, according to tentative information, the sarcophagus was not [previously] opened," the source said.
Samples of Remains of Alexander III will be Taken to Moscow Soon - Head of Russian State Archive
Moscow, November 27, Interfax - Samples of the remains of Russian Emperor Alexander III will be taken to Moscow from St. Petersburg for further genetic tests in the nearest future, Sergey Mironenko, the head of the Russian State Archive, told Interfax on Friday.
"The grave has been opened," he said.
Mironenko, who is a member of the special working group of the Russian government, said the theory that the grave of Alexander III was opened under the Soviets was not confirmed.
"I have said it many times: it was a theory, which was not based on any archive or other evidence. Thank God, everything turned out the way I said many times. It was not opened by anyone," Mironenko said.
"I think it will be done very soon," Mironenko said, responding to a question as to when the samples of the remains of Alexander III will be taken to Moscow, where genetic tests are performed.
Specialists Decide not to Open any More Romanov Graves in Nicholas II Family Death Case
Moscow, November 27, Interfax - Experts do not plan any new openings of Romanov graves as part of the genetic tests in the case involving the death of the family of Russia's last tsar, Sergey Mironenko, a member of the government working group and the head of the State Archive, told Interfax on Friday.
Experts opened the grave of Alexander III in St. Petersburg's Petropavlovsky Cathedral on Friday. Samples of the remains will be sent to Moscow, where genetic tests are performed, in the nearest future.
"Nothing else is currently planned. I hope that will be it," Mironenko said, responding to a question as to whether there are plans to open other Romanov graves.
Experts earlier did not rule out that forensic tests will be performed on samples of the remains of Great Princess Yelizaveta Fyodorovna, the sister of Alexandra Fyodorovna, wife of Nicholas II. The great princess was buried in Israel in a Russian Orthodox church in eastern Jerusalem.
Samples of the remains of Russia's last Emperor Nicholas II and his wife, and also samples of clothes bearing the blood of Emperor Alexander II, were brought to Moscow from St. Petersburg for tests in the fall.
Alexander III's Tomb not Opened Under Soviet Rule - Russian Investigative Committee
Moscow, November 27, Interfax - A commission of scientists and investigators, which on Friday exhumed the remains of Alexander III, has confirmed that no one had touched tomb before, Russian Investigative Committee (RIC) spokesman Vladimir Markin has said.
"Investigative procedures of opening the tomb of Alexander III were today conducted at the Peter and Paul's Cathedral in St. Petersburg as part of a criminal inquiry into the death of family members of the Russian Imperial House of Romanov," Markin told Interfax on Friday.
As well as investigators, criminal scientists and leading experts in genetics and forensic medicine, the exhumation procedure was attended by representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and RIC Chairman Alexander Bastrykin.
"The entire exhumation procedure was photographed and filmed. It was established definitively that there had been no earlier infiltrations into the vault of Alexander III," Markin said.
Bones of Contention: Russia Tries to Lay Royal Remains Row to Rest Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
Locked in a safe in Russia’s state archive lie two white cardboard boxes holding a few fragments of darkened bones, each numbered and stored in a plastic bag.
Geneticists, forensic experts and investigators have long been certain who these remains belonged to — Alexei, the 13-year-old son of the last tsar Nicholas II, and his sister Maria, who were shot along with their family by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
But despite DNA evidence of their identity, objections from the country’s powerful Orthodox Church mean the bones remain unburied almost a century after the brutal slaying.
Now a new probe is aiming to finally lay the controversy to rest — and the remains too, next to the other members of Russia’s last royal family, interred back in 1998 in their former capital Saint Petersburg.
“What’s at stake is whether to recognise the supposed remains of the tsar’s family as holy relics,” Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida told a recent press conference.
The Church does not accept that any of the remains of the tsar’s family are authentic and says it needs to make sure beyond doubt, as it has proclaimed all the family members saints and martyrs.
Russia’s government went ahead regardless with the other burials in 1998 but is now seeking to resolve the row with the Church before burying the others.
This summer, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev renewed calls to lay Alexei and Maria to rest with their parents and sisters.
The Church broke the stalemate, agreeing with the government to reopen the probe into the murders and carry out additional DNA testing of the other Romanovs, with clerics present as samples are taken.
Exhuming the Tsars
To satisfy them, investigators reopened the tombs of Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra, and are set to exhume Nicholas’s father Alexander III.
The first results of the new tests are coming back once again confirming their identity and experts say they are struggling to see what further objections the Church could have.
But the Church is still hesitant to recognise the DNA evidence and argues that although it is willing to make the historic move, it must “rule out the possibility of any mistake whatsoever” and conduct its own research.
For experts working on the remains of the last royal family, any recognition will not come before time.
The remains of Alexei and Maria were found together in 2007 in Yekaterinburg — the central Russian city where the last tsar, his family and their servants were massacred.
That discovery came some 16 years after the rest of the family were found in another grave, and nearly a decade after the remains of the tsar and his other three children were buried at a ceremony overseen by then-president Boris Yeltsin.
“I announce with absolute responsibility that enough evidence has been collected to prove that in the graves found in 2007 were the remains of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna and Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolayevich,” Mr Sergei Mironenko, the head of the state archive, told AFP in his Moscow office.
“To be honest, if you ask me, I don’t understand the position of the Russian Orthodox Church.”
After all this time, those seeking a burial for Alexei and Maria — including descendants of the family — say they want the remains to finally leave their limbo in the state archive.
“The Russian government have accepted they have not done what is supposed to be done,” Mr Paul Kulikovsky, great-grandson of Nicholas’s II’s sister, told AFP.
“I’m sure now that we are seeing is just a process towards that... actually the funeral will take place,” said Mr Kulikovsky.
“Now when the Church is participating, it’s a different story.”
Muscovites Step Up Effort To Rename Metro Station Honouring Tsar's Killer Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the November 21st, 2015 edition of Radio Free Europe (RFE). Lilya Palveleva and Robert Coalson own the copyright of the work presented below.
Moscow's Voikovskaya metro station -- named in 1964 in honor a Bolshevik revolutionary who participated in the 1918 murder of the Russian royal family -- has inexplicably escaped the wave of name changes that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In the early 1990s, 11 Moscow metro stations honoring Soviet figures from Vladimir Lenin to secret police founder Feliks Dzerzhinsky were renamed. The station honoring Pytor Voikov, however, has gone untouched despite a 25-year effort to see its name changed.
Now the effort has gained new urgency, with activists launching an online petition to make their case to the city authorities amid fears that a nearby railway platform to be opened next month might also be named after Voikov.
The fight against honoring Voikov has created a strange coalition, ranging from the Russian Orthodox Church to Stalinist-monarchist political figures to liberal human-rights activists. Yet doubts remain whether the city government will heed their calls.
Opened in 1964 on the northwestern outskirts of the capital, the station is named after Bolshevik revolutionary and Soviet diplomat Voikov, a man of remarkably little distinction even by Soviet standards.
His only claim to fame is that he was actively involved in fabricating "evidence" of alleged counterrevolutionary activity by the Russian royal family that the Soviet government used as justification for executing the deposed Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, and their five children. Russian archives contain a gruesome document in Voikov's handwriting ordering a pharmacy in Yekaterinburg to provide 165 kilograms of sulfuric acid that was used to dispose of the royal remains.
"I was one of the most ardent supporters of [executing the Romanovs]," Voikov wrote in a memoir. "Revolutions must be cruel to deposed monarchs."
Later, in Moscow, Voikov oversaw the sale abroad of Russian cultural treasures from the Kremlin -- including many famous Faberge eggs from the Romanov family collections. In 1924, he was sent as the Soviet representative to Poland, and he was assassinated three years later by an emigre Russian monarchist. He is buried in the Soviet necropolis in the Kremlin wall.
"Almost no one denies the fact that Voikov was involved in the murder of the tsarist family," says Yevgeny Sosedov, head of the Moscow Oblast branch of the Society For the Preservation of Monuments, "or that he participated in the discussions and voted for execution. This is a historically proven fact."
A 'Terrorist And Destroyer'
Activists worry that when the new railway platform opens in December, it too will bear Voikov's name because municipal transport guidelines recommend that such platforms have the same name as the nearest metro station.
The array of support for renaming the station is impressive. The remaining Romanov family has asked the Russian government to rename it. The powerful Russian Orthodox Church -- which has canonized the entire royal family as "passion-bearers" -- has described Voikov as "a terrorist and a destroyer" who merits "eternal punishment and dishonor."
"It is a rare occasion when I agree with the Russian Orthodox Church," long-time rights activist Lyudmila Alekseyeva told the Interfax news agency in July. "Voikov is an unsavory figure; his reputation is besmirched; and his name shouldn't grace a metro station or anything else."
In 2010, a majority of deputies in the State Duma passed a nonbinding call for the Moscow city government to change the station's name.
The latest effort to provoke a change was initiated by Aleksandr Zakondyrin, a local council deputy in Moscow's northern Voikov district, where the contentious metro station and rail platform are located. He set up a petition on the website of the Moscow city government to solicit the opinions of citizens. Voting in the nonbinding opinion poll will close on November 23.
According to a local Moscow news agency on November 18, nearly 290,000 people have cast ballots on the poll so far, with 35 percent supporting renaming the station and 53 percent opposing.
Supporters of the name change, however, have expressed concern that the city's poll will not accurately reflect opinions. People can cast votes merely by inputting a Russian telephone number, which means that people from around the country can vote and there is nothing to stop people from voting multiple times.
Sosedov, who is not a resident of Moscow, says that when he tried to vote in favor of changing the station's name, he had to try repeatedly before the site accepted his vote. However, when he voted in favor of leaving the current name, his vote registered immediately. He says others have complained to him of similar problems.
He also expresses concern about how Moscow media have covered the story.
"In particular, the media that in one way or another are connected with the Moscow government, literally on the first day of voting -- even in the first hours of voting -- were running headlines to the effect that Muscovites had voted against renaming the station," he says. "But the voting had only just begun."
The conservative Regnum news agency, for instance, on November 13 published an article under the headline, "In Russia There Are Calls For Bringing Down Lenin. Are They Preparing A Liberal Maidan In Moscow," referring to the popular uprising in Ukraine that toppled the government of President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
Anton Khudyakov, a coordinator of the Rename Voikovskaya civic group, says he doesn't see why an online referendum is necessary at all. His group has submitted to the authorities a petition with the verified signatures of 6,500 residents of the Voikov district calling for the name change and for the new railway platform not to be named in Voikov's honor.
"I really don't understand why we needed to collect signatures," he says. "After all, we have been pushing for this for 25 years. Moreover, just recently, in connection with the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of victory [in World War II], the station Ulitsa Podbelskogo was very quickly renamed Rokossovsky Boulevard [after Soviet Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky]. No one asked anyone about that."
"And when they renamed the station Brateyevo to Alma-Atinskaya, they didn't pay any attention to the 7,000 signatures collected on a petition against this."
Khudyakov says his group has no problem in theory with the idea of a referendum, but insists that participants must be required to submit their passport information to participate.
"That would be honest," he says. "And after such a transparent, representative process, the authorities could take a responsible decision. But in the current case, we don't see anything like this."
'No Reasoned Discussion'
Supporters of keeping the old name offer few arguments. Communist Duma Deputy Valery Rashkin said in July that the party opposes attempts to "rewrite history," calling on Muscovites to respect "the decision our ancestors made to immortalize someone's memory." It was an odd position to take considering that, when the communists were in power, they routinely changed tsarist-era place names, including the names of major cities and entire oblasts.
"We often hear: 'this is our history; let's not change our history or rewrite it," says Sosedov, of the Society for the Preservation of Monuments. "This is a strange line of argument since our history has many figures who can be viewed negatively. There were traitors and murderers and terrorists."
In addition, Sosedov says, opponents of changing the name cite the experience of Ukraine, which has seen a lively campaign in recent months to remove Soviet-era monuments and replace Soviet place names.
"I have noticed that opponents of changing the name generally produce some emotional arguments," Sosedov says. "They say, 'you are making us sick with all your name changing' and 'you want to provoke a Maidan, like they had in Ukraine.' You don't see any reasoned discussion of the topic."
Proponents of the name change have suggested various alternatives. In 2013, two Duma deputies appealed to the Moscow mayor to name the station after South Africa's first black president, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela.
Activists have also proposed naming it after Soviet cosmonaut Vladislav Volkov, a two-time Hero of the Soviet Union and a Moscow native who died tragically when the Soyuz-11 space capsule depressurized during reentry on June 30, 1971. This year marks the 80th anniversary of Volkov's birth.
"Not a single metro station so far has been named after a cosmonaut," Khudyakov notes.