Remains Believed to be Those of
Russian Emperor Ivan VI Found

Portrait of Regent Anna Leopoldovna & Emperor Ivan VI

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Russian scientists have announced that the remains of Ivan (Ioann) VI, the only Russian emperor whose burial place has until now been unknown, have been found in Kholmogory.

"The probability of the remains being genuine is estimated by experts as very high," Anatoly Karanin, the head of the search group, told Interfax-Religion on Monday.

The remains were found during a search for the secret grave of generalissimo Anton Ulrich Herzog von Braunschweig-Wolfenbuttel, who was buried in the village of Kholmogory, Arkhangelsk region, in 1776. The search was conducted due to a possible loss of the remains caused by the demolition of a water tower, which was built on the foundation of a destroyed church.

Among ancient graves Arkhangelsk archaeologists found a sarcophagus containing the remains of a young man whose left shoulder blade was pierced by a sword. Taking into account these circumstances and archive information, the experts assumed that the remains could be those of Ivan VI, the eldest son of the generalissimo, who could have been brought to Kholmogory where his family lived at that time. Subsequent tests confirmed the theory.

Ivan VI, emperor from the Romanov dynasty, was born in St. Petersburg on August 23, 1740. After the death of Empress Anna Ioannovna, the 2-month old son of Princess Anna Leopoldovna and Prince Anton Ulrich Herzog von Braunschweig and the grandson of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich, was declared Emperor ivan VI. Duke Biron of Kurland was appointed warden to the baby emperor.

However, Ivan (Ioann) did not stay emperor long. A total of 404 days later, Elizabeth I, the daughter of Peter the Great, seized power in a coup and the family of Ivan VI was exiled to Kholmogory. Baby Ivan was separated from his parents and lived alone in Kholmogory for 12 years before being taken to Shlisselburg in early 1756.

At the age of 16, John was placed in a solitary cell in the Shlisselburg Fortress for fear of his repeated enthronement. In 1764, Lieutenant Vasily Mirovich made an attempt to free the young man, but Ivan VI was stabbed by his guards in the process. His body taken in an unknown direction.

The remains found in Kholmogory were taken to Moscow at the request of Viktor Zvyagin, the head of the identification laboratory of the Russian Forensic Medicine center, Vladimir Stanulevich, secretary of the guardian council of the Emperor foundation, told Interfax-Religion.

Forensic tests performed on the remains determined that the remains were those of Ivan VI.

"At this time, there is not a single fact contradicting this assumption. On the contrary, the number of facts and coincidences continues to grow," Stanulevich said.

The Arkhangelsk archeologists who have found the remains believed to be those of Emperor John VI are now asking the state to help conduct DNA tests to complete the identification process.

These DNA tests "require federal resources." Vladimir Stanulevich, secretary of the guardian council of the Emperor foundation, which was created to work on the remains, told a press conference in the Interfax central office on Monday.

In order for the identification process to be completed the Russian authorities need to issue a special decree and decisions have to be made at the interstate level, he said.

Meanwhile, the Russian Imperial House say that additional tests should be performed to determine whether the remains recently found in Kholmogory, the Arkhangelsk Region, are those of Russian Emperor Ivan VI.

"If remains have been found, comprehensive tests should be performed on them. It is possible that they are indeed genuine," Alexander Zakatov, director of the Romanov family's chancellery, told Interfax on Monday.

If the remains prove genuine, the issue of their re-burial in the Romanov family vault in St. Petersburg may be raised, he said.

Zakatov believes it is necessary to conduct the entire set of tests "in accordance with all norms of the legislation and using science."

"Theoretically, it is possible that the remains are genuine. It has been historically confirmed that he was killed in the Arkhangelsk Region," Zakatov said.

Source: Interfax
13 September, 2010