Grand Duchess Maria Wins
Russian Case Over Tsar's Death

Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna

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Hundreds of pages of documents related to the murder of last tsar, will be published after a court victory by a member of the Romanov dynasty.

A Moscow court decided on Wednesday that documents linked to the murder of Russia's last tsar must be handed over to a remaining member of his dynasty in an effort to help unlock the mystery of Nicholas II's final hours.

Romanov descendants are still trying to understand the circumstances under which the tsar and his family were shot at close range in the middle of the night on July 17, 1918 after the Bolsheviks seized power across the fallen empire.

An investigation into the murder has been opened and closed at least three times at the behest of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, a descendant of the Romanov family, and Head of the Russian Imperial House.

Her lawyer, German Lukyanov said the decision of the court is "an important victory over the Russian legal nihilism" and said the Russian Imperial House plans to release the documents, together with its own assessment of the investigation carried out by public authorities.

Lukyanov also says that she also has questions about a grave opened in 1991 near the Ural Mountain city of Yekaterinburg which held the remains of nine people believed to be the tsar, his wife, three of their five children and four servants.

"The Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna wants to know under what circumstances the life of the Tsar and his family were taken," said the family's lawyer German Lukyanov.

"She also wants to know clearly on what basis the unidentified remains found near Yekaterinburg were acknowledged as part of the Tsar's family," he said.

"These documents are of great historical significance, as the fate of the imperial family is part of Russian history, and it can not be kept a secret. The tsar and his family were the first victims of the Great Terror, which cost the country millions of lives," - said Lukyanov.

Russia's Investigative Committee responsible for the probe into the deaths is yet to decide whether to hand the 800 plus pages of documents that justify the last investigation's closure over to the family or appeal the case, said Interfax.

After extensive DNA testing, the bodies found near Yekaterinburg were declared the remains of the lost royal family and eventually interred in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, where Romanovs had been laid to rest for centuries.

They were recognized by Russia's Supreme Court as victims of Bolshevik repression in 2008.

The fact that two of the Romanov offspring were missing from the grave has spurred speculation that the two children, Alexei and one of his sisters, had escaped their family's fate.

But in 2009 scientists, relying on DNA testing, said that a second grave near the site where the tsar and his wife were found contained the bodies of the two royal children.

More than a year after Nicholas II's abdication in the midst of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Bolsheviks took him and his family to Yekaterinburg, fearing that the royalist White Army would try to rescue them.

They were shot days later.

Source & Copyright: Reuters News Agency
Edited and updated with additional information by Paul Gilbert, Royal Russia
27 July, 2011