ROC Issues Statement on Recognition of Ekaterinburg Remains

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Members of the ROC participate in the new investigation of the Ekaterinburg remains in 2015

On 5th January, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow) issued a statement regarding the Russian Orthodox Church’s (ROC) position on the authenticity of the remains of Nicholas II and his family discovered in Porosenkov Meadow near Ekaterinburg. He made the statement during an interview on the telecast “Church and the World” on the TV channel “Russia 24”.

“We will make a decision only when neither the hierarchy, nor the clergy, nor the church people have any doubts that these are really the remains of the Imperial family,” said Metropolitan Hilarion. “Only such recognition will enable them to be solemnly reburied and revered as holy relics,” he added. 

It is important to note that the ROC had not been invited to take part in the examinations conducted by Western experts in the 1990s. Not only did the church not agree with the findings, the ROC still had many unanswered questions, which the original team of scientists failed to answer. See The Investigation into the Deaths of the Russian Royal Family and Persons of Their Entourage by Archpriest Oleg Mitrov, published in Sovereign No. 2, Spring 2016 (pg. 7-29).

Metropolitan Hilarion explained that for the Church, “the canonization of the Imperial family attaches particular importance to the investigation: if the remains are recognized as authentic, they become the relics of saints recognized by the Church, which is why the Church is so careful and cautious in this matter,” explained Metropolitan Hilarion,”

The Ekaterinburg remains were identified with maximum scientific certainty as those belonging to Nicholas II, members of his family, and four retainers at least twice. In the mid-2000s, a presentation of genetic studies was carried out in Ekaterinburg, which carried out DNA molecular analysis, which showed the absolute affiliation of samples to the genetic profile of the Romanov dynasty, including those living today. 

In the summer of 2018, on the eve of the centenary marking the murders, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation issued a statement with similar results, that the remains of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II and members of his family, found in Porosenkov Meadow, near Ekaterinburg, were authentic.

Nevertheless, the thesis put forward by Metropolitan Hilarion during his interview, was also formulated by the Holy Synod at a meeting held in Ekaterinburg in the summer of 2018. Apparently, members of the committee expressed doubts regarding the examinations.

Sadly, the matter remains unresolved, and the world continues to wait for the day when the Imperial family will be reunited and left to rest in peace, and closing the book on one of the darkest pages in Russian history.

Click HERE to read my article The Fate of the Ekaterinburg Remains, published on 4th January 2017.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 6 January 2019

Putin’s Russia and the Ghost of the Romanovs

This article was originally published in The Economist on 17th July 2018

The commemoration of an act of regicide falls short of expectations

The awkwardness of remembering the Romanovs

THE commemoration could have been a great and solemn moment of truth, a time to reflect on the passage from one era of Russia’s tragic history to another. 

As it was, the proceedings were impressive enough: tens of thousands people gathered in the city of Yekaterinburg in the Ural mountains for a nocturnal act of worship to recall the killings which had taken place there exactly 100 years ago. The victims were Tsar Nicholas, the Empress Alexandra and their five children, along with their doctor and three servants. Many worshippers trudged for miles between the spot where the killings took place and the mineshaft where the bodies, doused in acid, were thrown.

But in one important respect, this was a flawed act of remembrance which disappointed some people, including quite a few surviving relatives of the Romanov family. In defiance of overwhelming scientific evidence, the Russian Orthodox church is still refusing to accept as genuine the remains of the royal family, most of whom were solemnly buried in St Petersburg in 1998. The two bodies which were discovered only in 2007, those of the crown prince Alexei and his sister Maria, have yet to receive a decent interment, in part because of the church leadership’s unwillingness to settle the matter. 

It was widely hoped any remaining doubts over the identity of the remains could be cleared up in time for this month’s centenary. This nearly happened, but not quite. On the eve of the anniversary, the secular authority which was responsible for probing the evidence made its clearest statement to date that the remains were all genuine. As one Russian news report put it, a spokeswoman for the investigative committee said:

the findings of comprehensive DNA tests confirmed that the remains found outside Yekaterinburg were those of former Emperor Nicholas II, his family members and people close to them. The molecular and genetic tests have shown that seven of the 11…remains are of members of one family: mother, father, four daughters and a son.

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Patriarch Kirill leads a procession of tens of thousands of pilgrims from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama on the morning of 17th July 2018

This unambiguous verdict from secular experts could have been a good moment for the church, at the 11th hour, to overcome its professed doubts, but the cue was not taken. Instead, a church spokesman merely said the Patriarchate of Moscow had “taken note” of the new findings but it would plod on with its own analysis of the evidence.

The reasons for the Patriarchate’s reluctance to accept the scientific data have been something of a mystery, even to close observers of Russia’s religious scene. But some light on the matter has been shed by Sergei Chapnin, a Russian Orthodox journalist who was editor of the Patriarchate’s journal until his dismissal in December 2015.

Mr Chapnin told The Economist that as far as he was aware, all the scientific information presented over the years to senior members of the church affirms the authenticity of the remains. If there had been any tiny shred of doubt over the remains buried in 1998, it had been cleared up after the discovery of Alexei and Maria in 2007, who were swiftly identified as part of the same family as the previously interred bodies, thanks to laboratory techniques which were growing ever more sophisticated. 

Why then the reluctance to accept these conclusions? Mr Chapnin believes the church leadership is unwilling to confront, or disappoint, a contingent of 100,000 or so fervent royalists who have long been nostalgic not just for the martyrs of 1918 but for the general principle of divinely appointed, absolute monarchy. 

People in this ultra-conservative camp were sceptical, back in 1998, when the first set of bodies were interred; that was partly because of their antipathy for the liberal government of the day, headed by President Boris Yeltsin, which organised the interment. In the face of this scepticism, the late Patriarch Alexy was obliged to profess agnosticism over the identity of the bodies, as a way to avoid massive internal rifts within the church.

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The Holy Royal Martyrs

Over the years since, being sceptical about the identity of the Romanov relics has become a sort of touchstone of zealous religious nationalism. In Mr Chapnin’s view, the church leadership is nervous about contradicting this group, and above all it is unwilling to admit that its own reluctance to accept the relics has been a mistake.

Perhaps there are also some deeper reasons why July 2018 is not a good moment for Russia’s political and religious leaders to reflect honestly on the tragedy of the royal murders, or on the millions of humbler folk who would be killed in the years that followed.

It helps to remember how much has changed in Russian thinking about the past since July 1998, when most of the Romanov family was interred in St Petersburg. At that time, President Yeltsin made a moving speech, drafted by one of Russia’s most respected liberal thinkers, the historian and camp survivor Dimitry Likhachev. He said the Russian people should reflect on the killings, and on the orgy of slaughter which the Bolsheviks carried out, in a spirit of self-questioning and repentance. 

But self-doubt and repentance are not popular sentiments in today’s Russia. Blaming the wickedness of outsiders for the nation’s woes, and trumpeting one’s own moral superiority, have become much more fashionable, and that new spirit of the times affects everybody, in high and low places. In an ideal world the church would rise above these fluctuating intellectual currents. But it seems unable to do that—and this is unfortunate. A religious leadership which cannot bring itself to accept the conclusions of a scientific laboratory, for fear of acknowledging its own fallibility, will surely have difficulty speaking truth about other, even more painful episodes of 20th-century history. 

© The Economist. 2 August 2018

Holy Synod to discuss Ekaterinburg Remains next month

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Monument to Nicholas II and his family, Church on the Blood, Ekaterinburg

This article has been researched and written from Russian media sources by Royal Russia Founder Paul Gilbert © 2018

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will hold a meeting of the Holy Synod in Ekaterinburg from July 14 to 17. 

Will the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) finally make an announcement on the Ekaterinburg remains? The visiting session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will take place during the Tsar’s Days marking the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. Alexander Volkov, a spokesperson for the Synodal Department for Church’s Relations with Society and Mass Media of the Moscow Patriarchate noted: “With a high degree of probability, we can say that the main topic of this meeting will be the issue of recognition of the royal remains that were discovered near Ekaterinburg.” See The Fate of the Ekaterinburg Remains by Paul Gilbert

Unrecognized remains

In 1979, on the north-western outskirts of Sverdlovsk (Ekaterinburg), the remains were found by a group headed by Ural geologist Alexander Avdonin. The find was hidden until 1991, and after the fall of the USSR the remains were excavated. In 2007, a group of archaeologists led by Sergei Pogorelov, representative of the Protection and Use of Historical and Cultural Monuments of the Sverdlovsk Region, discovered more remains near the original burial site. 

Bone fragments discovered at the so-called Porosenkov Log, according to the results of several examinations, were determined to be the remains of Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, three of their five children and four servants, who were all shot on the night of 16/17 July 1918. However, the ROC did not recognize them. The church claimed that the bodies of the Romanovs were destroyed by the Bolsheviks in the area of ​​the former mines of the Isetsky mine, which later became known as Ganina Yana. 

The distance between Porosenkov Log and Ganina Yama is only 3.8 kilometers. In 2000, the Bishops’ Council of the ROC founded the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs, and virtually ignored the Porosenkov Log.

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Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov) has great influence in the ROC

“The struggle to recognize the remains unfolded”

Scientists have confirmed the authenticity of the remains unequivocally, however, the issue of their recognition by the church has yet to be resolved. In the spring of this year, the spokesman for Patriarch Kirill noted that all visiting meetings of the Holy Synod in 2018 “will have a planned nature” and “no emergency solutions are planned.” 

However, back in October 2017, during the Dilettante Readings in Ekaterinburg, the editor-in-chief of a local radio station Alexei Venediktov, hinted at sources in the presidential administration that on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the murder of the Imperial family, “the church will recognize the Ekaterinburg remains”. The other day Venediktov wrote in his telegram channel: “The struggle for the recognition of the Imperial remains has unfolded. Kirill – against, Tikhon – for.” 

Venediktov is referring to Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov). The latter, being considered the confessor of President Vladimir Putin, is Head of the Patriarchal Council for Culture. It was under the authority of this body that the order for a new examination of the Ekaterinburg remains as a new criminal case, conducted under the supervision of the ROC was initiated. In 2015, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation was created to launch a new investigation into the deaths of the Imperial family. It should be noted that a criminal investigation had previously been carried out from 1993 to 2008, by the investigative division of the Prosecutor’s Office.

Dangerous for the patriarch

Earlier this week, the President of the Center for Political Technologies, Igor Bunin, noted a comment made by political analyst Alexei Makarkin who said: “The division of the ROC into supporters and opponents of the recognition of the Ekaterinburg remains as Holy relics is associated with specific interests.” 

“All the main public figures of the ROC understand that the remains are real. However, for Patriarch Kirill to take responsibility for such recognition – means to provoke sharp criticism in his address from the church’s extreme conservatives, who had already reacted negatively to his meeting with the pope. 

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Investigator-criminologist Vladimir Soloviev (left)

From the situation there is an end

Interlocutors note that the leadership of the country insists that the ROC recognize the Ekaterinburg remains. “[Vladimir] Putin really wants to resolve this issue and has made every effort to persuade the ROC, which continues to resist. This is not related to [presidential] elections, this is based on his idea of ​​bringing all parties to reconciliation,” stressed Igor Bunin, President of the Center for Political Technologies.  

Last year Chief Major Crimes investigator Vladimir Soloviev, who headed an investigation into the murder of the Imperial family from 1991 to 2015, explained why the ROC still resists in recognizing the Ekaterinburg remains. In his opinion, it is not so much about the disagreements on the issue that arose between the ROC and the investigation team appointed by the first president of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin, but rather about the decisions taken by the hierarchs in the 1930s.  

“Since 1928, all the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) believed that the Imperial family had been killed and their remains were burned.  Everyone was sure that the conclusions of Nikolai Sokolov, the investigator appointed by Admiral Alexander Kolchak, who was engaged in an investigation into the murder of the Tsar’s family in 1919, were correct. In the church there is a tradition: when all the hierarchs said “yes”, it is very difficult to say “no” to other hierarchs afterwards. Now, knowing the fighting nature of our patriarch, it seems that he wanted to finally understand the matter once and for all. That’s why there is a full investigation from the very beginning,” – said  Soloviev.

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The Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

Another question is what to do with the church complex at Ganina Yama, if the ROC admit that the remains of the Imperial family were still found elsewhere. Does this mean that all this time that the faithful prayed in the wrong place? The best possible solution will be the recognition of both places (Ganina Yama and Porosenkov Log), both sacred to believers. 

Soloviev noted: “Both these places are sacred in themselves. There lay members of the Imperial family, their murderers spilled these places in their blood. The bodies lay for a day in the Ganina Pit, and yet they lay for a long time at Porosenkov Log!”  According to the memoirs of the archaeologists who participated in 1991 in extracting the first part of the skeleton from the burial site, they failed to extract a large amount of fat from the earth that was released during the decomposition of the bodies. Thus, the soil in the area of ​​the Porosenkov Log is literally imbued with the remains of the Romanovs, ranked among the Orthodox saints by the Church. 

It can be said that in March 2016 the Russian Orthodox Church began preparations for such a development of events. At a meeting with the first vice-premier of the Sverdlovsk government Vladimir Vlasov, the metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Kirill voiced the position of believers that if the remains were nevertheless recognized as authentic, that a church would be constructed at Porosenkov Log, similar to that at Ganina Yama. See ROC Seeks Claim to Site of Royal Remains Grave Near Ekaterinburg 

Because of this position, the implementation of the project, which was then carried out by the regional authorities, was stalled. They had planned to transfer the lands of the Porosenkov Log (about 3.7 hectares) to the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local Lore and create there a commemorative museum complex for the 100th anniversary of the shooting of the Romanovs. See Ekaterinburg Eparchy and Local Museum Argue Over Future of Porosenkov Log

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Porosenkov Log is 3.8 km from Ganina Yama

Murder of the Romanovs and the discovery of remains

The family of the Emperor Nicholas II who abdicated in 1917 from the Russian throne, along with his family the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the Tsesarevich Alexei, the Grand Duchesses – Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and their four faithful retainers Dr. Eugene Botkin, the maid Anna Demidova, the cook Ivan Kharitonov, and the valet Aloysius Trupp were all shot on the night of 16/17 July 17 1918 in the house of engineer Ipatiev, situated in the area of ​​the Ascension Hill in the center of Ekaterinburg.

Their remains lay hidden in a forested area for more than 60 years before their initial discovery. It is believed that the first discoverer of this place in the Porosenkov Log on the Koptyakovskaya Road on the northwestern outskirts of Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg) in the summer of 1979 was the Ural geologist Alexander Avdonin with M. Kochurov, G. Vasiliev, and G. Ryabov. However, the remains then had to be reburied. The political climate at the time did not allow them to be revealed to the world. It was not until the summer of 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, that the remains were dug up. Only nine skeletons out of eleven were discovered. Not only did this give grounds for doubting the authenticity of the remains, it also led to conspiracy theories that perhaps two of the children had survived.

In July 1998, the remains found in the Porosenkov Log were buried in St Catherine’s Chapel of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Despite a series of examinations, some of which were conducted in laboratories in the United States and England, the Moscow Patriarchate still did not recognize that the bodies found near the Koptyakovskaya Road were the Romanovs.

In 2007, thanks to the Ural specialists of local lore and archaeologists there in the Porosenkov Log area, a second grave was discovered near the original, which revealed the remains of the Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister the Grand Duchess Maria. The new examination confirmed their authenticity. However, the bones of the two children of Nicholas II are still not devoted to the earth. For some time they were kept in the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, then in the State Archives of the Russian Federation. They were then handed over to Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov) and transferred to the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow. See Remains of Tsesarevich Alexey, Grand Duchess Maria Transferred to Novospassky Monastery

It is expected that closure of this issue rests with the results of the new criminal case, announced by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation on 23 September 2015. At a meeting of the Bishops’ Council in Moscow, which took place at the end of November 2017, members voiced a large array of their conclusions, generally acknowledging the validity of the initial examinations, thanks to which the Ekaterinburg remains were recognized. Nevertheless, the final judgment on this issue must be made by the Holy Synod.

Click HERE to review more articles, news and photos of Ganina Yama

Click HERE to review more articles, news and photos about the Ekaterinburg Remains

Click HERE to review more articles, news and photos about the Holy Royal Martyrs

Click HERE to review more articles, news and photos about Ekaterinburg and the Romanovs

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 28 June 2018

Holy Synod to Meet this Summer to Discuss Ekaterinburg Remains

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Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill presides over a meeting of the Holy Synod of the ROC

This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2018

One of the sessions of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church with the participation of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill will be held this summer in Ekaterinburg. “This year several meetings of the Synod will be held in different cities across Russia. This is due to the development which is currently taking place in the Russian Church, in particular the creation of new dioceses and metropolies. The assembly of the supreme body of church management will be held Ekaterinburg, St. Petersburg, Moscow and Minsk” said the press secretary of the patriarch, priest Alexander Volkov.

According to the priest, all the meetings listed “will have a planned agenda.” In Ekaterinburg, the meeting of the Holy Synod “will finally make a decision to recognize the royal remains.”

It is now confirmed that Patriarch Kirill will take part in the centenary on the night of 16/17 July 2018, and unconfirmed rumours that Russian President Vladimir Putin will also participate in the events marking the 100th anniversary of the Romanovs’ murders.

According to a number of Russian media sources, His Holiness plans to link his visit to Ekaterinburg to officially recognize the remains found on the Koptyakovskaya road, on the centenary of the Romanov family’s demise. Genetic expertise has long confirmed this, but the Russian Orthodox Church has so far avoided putting an end to one of the most painful issues for Russia in the 20th century.

The family of the Emperor Nicholas II who abdicated in 1917 from the Russian throne (the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the Grand Duchesses – Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, Tsesarevich Alexei) and the servants (the family doctor Eugene Botkin, the maid Anna Demidova, the cook Ivan Kharitonov, the lackey Aloisius Trupp), were shot on the night of 16/17 July 1918 in the basement of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg.

It is well known that their remains were taken to the north-western outskirts of Ekaterinburg, in the Ganina Yama tract, where the murderers attempted to destroy the bodies with acid and fire. This was not accomplished, so the bodies were then transported a few more kilometres away and buried in the Porosenkov Log on the old Koptyakovskaya Road.

In 1978, the area was excavated by a group headed by the Ural geologist Alexander Avdonin, who worked under the patronage of the assistant to the head of the Ministry of the Interior of the USSR, Heliya Ryabova. The remains were unearthed and presented to the public only in 1991. However, to this day the ROC does not recognize them, believing that the bodies of the Imperial family were in fact destroyed at Ganina Yama.

Click HERE to read 12 additional articles and news stories about the Ekaterinburg remains. Click HERE to review nearly 80 articles and news stories about the Holy Royal Martyrs.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 March 2018

Ekaterinburg Preparing for Large-Scale Events Marking Centenary of Tsarist Family Martyrdom

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The Church on the Blood, built on the site of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg

This article was originally published by Pravoslavie.ru on 31 January 2018

A meeting of the organizing committee for carrying out the events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Tsar Nicholas II and his holy family was recently held under the chairmanship of the First Deputy Head of the Ekaterinburg city administration. More than 70 events between February and December are planned to commemorate this great crime that took place in Ekaterinburg and which has become one of the Russian Church’s most beloved celebrations, reports the official site of the Ekaterinburg city administration.

The meeting gathered the heads of municipal structural departments, law enforcement agencies, and the Ekaterinburg Diocese to discuss the plan of action for preparing the many large-scale celebrations in honor of the Royal Martyrs, including the organization of the cross procession in which 100,000 pilgrims from around the world are expected to participate.

City services will develop territories adjacent to event venues, as well as security measures and medical aid for participants in the celebrations. Municipal cultural institutions have prepared an extensive program of educational and cultural events for the memorial date, including lectures, concerts, exhibitions, excursions, and film screenings.

The local Ekaterinburg Diocese has proposed to deem the entirety of 2018 as the “Royal” or “Imperial” Year. The main event of the year will be the Church celebration of the Royal Martyrs on July 16 and 17, including the massive procession that takes place every year in their honor.

Another major development in honor of the centenary is the development of an All-Russian pilgrimage route that will pass through Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kirov, Perm, and Tobolsk, also bringing travelers to the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg, built over the spot of the Ipatiev House, where the family was martyred.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia intends to visit Ekaterinburg for the celebrations this year. The British royal family, which is blood-related to the Russian royal family, has also been invited to join in the celebrations.

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Russian Church says will not impede decision regarding presumable Romanov family remains

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This article was originally published by TASS on 22 January 2018, and edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia News

The Russian Church expressed strong doubts regarding the identity of body fragments found near Ekaterinburg and abstained from any ceremonies related to the burial procedures

The Russian Orthodox Church is holding maximally open discussions on whether or not the human remains found in Ekaterinburg in the Urals are those of members of the slain family of Tsar Nicholas II and no one is going to impede the decision-making process artificially, Dr. Vladimir Legoida, the chief spokesman for the Moscow Patriarch’s Office told TASS on Monday.

“I’d like to stress the absence of any goal to slow down the process or, vice versa, to speed it up,” he said. “The numerous expert studies are drawing to a close. We’re doing them along several lines – the genetic, anthropological, historical, and criminalist.”

“Some questions are still unresolved today,” Dr. Legoida said. “When all the studies are over and the Investigations Committee closes the criminal case [over the murder of the Imperial family – TASS], then the Church will pass its decision on the basis of full information it gets.”

“The degree of openness on the part of this Church has been unprecedented this time,” he said. “Just look at the nine-hour-long conference at Moscow’s Sretentsky Monastery where the Patriarch Kirill I took part. It was broadcast live and it’s available to anyone willing to watch it.”

“There wasn’t even one situation regarding church life – and public life, too – where there would be transparency of the kind and readiness to speak about everything, which had happened,” Dr. Legoida said.

He recalled the decisions regarding the recognition of identity of the remains would be taken by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Church. The Church convenes these councils once in every four years.

“Whether this Church convenes a separate council or whether it puts the matter for discussion at a regular council will depend on when it gets the conclusive results,” Dr. Legoida said.

Nicholas II abdicated the throne in mid-February 1917. He and members of the Imperial Family were taken to Siberia forcibly soon after that.

On the night of 16/17 July 1918, a squad of revolutionary Bolsheviks murdered the Imperial family in the basement of a mansion that had previously belonged to mining engineer Nikolai Ipatyev.

The list of individuals they put to death included Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra, Tsesarevich Alexis, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, the family physician Eugene Botkin, the Tsarina’s chambermaid Anna Demidova, the court chef Ivan Kharitonov, and the Tsar’s footman Alexei [Aloise] Trupp.

Investigator Nikolai Sokolov, who worked for Admiral Kolchak’s interim government and who investigated the case from 1919 through to 1924, when he died a highly mysterious death, established that the masterminds of the heinous crime had destroyed the bodies of members of the Imperial Family by burning. He also found that the technological process involved the dry rectified oil of vitriol.

However, beginning with the 1920’s certain groups of experts on criminalistics, monarchists, historians, and clergy believed that either the executed members of the family had been buried or else some of the Romanovs – most typically, Anastasia or Alexis – had survived the ordeal.

On 1 June 1 1979, detective and scriptwriter Geliy Ryabov and geologist Alexander Avdonin discovered a grave containing the remains of several people in the marshy area known as Piglet’s Meadow near Sverdlovsk [the Soviet-era name of Ekaterinburg]. Proceeding from the data available to them, the made a supposition that this was the mass grave of the Imperial Family.

The officially authorized breakup of the grave took place only in 1991 and the remains of nine people were found inside.

In August 1993, the Prosecutor General’s Office instituted a criminal case over the death of the Romanovs and the assistants who accompanied them.

After several genetic studies in the UK, the US and Russia, the state commission in charge of investigation said the remains with a high degree of probability were those of Tsar Nicholas’s family. The problem, however, was that the remains of Tsesarevich Alexis and Grand Duchess Anastasia [Grand Duchess Maria in the US version] were never found.

The burial of the identified remains took place in the St Peter and Paul’s cathedral in St Petersburg. The organizers of the event said that placed to final rest there were Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra, their three daughters, and four assistants.

The Russian Church expressed strong doubts regarding the identity of bodily fragments found near Ekaterinburg and abstained from any ceremonies related to the burial procedures.

The Russian Church canonized the Tsar, the Tsarina and their five children in 2000 as the new holy martyrs who had accepted torturous death for confessing Jesus Christ.

Fragments of bones and teeth of a woman and a child were unearthed on 29 July 2007, during archaeological excavations to the south of the site where the remains of the Romanovs and their assistants had been found previously. The new finds had the signs of exposure to super-high temperatures.

To establish the supplementary circumstances of the Romanovs’ death, the authorities resumed preliminary investigation. They sent the samples of the remains to Russian and foreign laboratories. The Investigative Committee received the results of the studies but the Russian Church once again voiced its doubts over whether the bodily fragments were those of the Tsar’s daughter and son.