'Tsar Marathon' Plans Anger
Nicholas II Descendants
Russian Orthodox believers touch a cross raised in Ganina-Yama, where the Bolsheviks disposed of the bodies of Tsar Nicholas II
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Plans for "Tsar Marathons" with competitors running from the spot where Russia's last royal family was executed to the spot where they were buried have been met with disbelief by their descendants.
German Lukyanov, a spokesman for Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, the head of the Romanov Dynasty, said he was profoundly shocked by the idea and demanded an explanation.
"It is incomprehensible," he told Russian media. "They (the organisers) are going to have to explain this. Sport and a graveyard are incompatible concepts. The place where the Tsar's family died is a sacred place. To organise sporting events there is, putting it mildly, strange." But clerical authorities in the town of Yekaterinburg say their plan has been well thought through, is not disrespectful, and has been blessed by Patriarch Kirill, the powerful head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The idea, they say, is to hold regular 'Tsar's Marathons' starting and finishing at the city's so-called Church on the Blood which was built on the site where Bolshevik executioners shot Tsar Nicholas II and his family in 1918. Runners would head for a monastery where the bones of the murdered Romanovs were found and then loop back to the church again.
A spokesman for the city's Russian Orthodox leadership defended the controversial plan.
"Yes we need to mourn what went on here but this should not be done eternally," she said. "Anyway, the Tsar's family and Nicholas II enjoyed sport. We should not forget that Russia sent its first team to the Olympics during his rule."