Memorial for General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev Held in Ekaterinburg


General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev (1859-1918)

On 24th December 2018, with the blessing of Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, an evening dedicated to General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev was held at the Tsarsky Spiritual and Educational Center in Ekaterinburg. Tatishchev was one of the few who remained loyal to the Tsar and his family, following them into exile, and was murdered by the Bolsheviks.   

The memorial was timed to the general’s birthday, and began with a memorial service held in the Church in the name of Nicholas the Wonderworker, which is situated in the Patriarchal Compound, on the territory of the Church on the Blood. The service was performed by Archpriest Alexander Salautin.

As part of the evening’s program, Mother Eustafia, a resident of the Novo-Tikhvin Convent, and member of the commission for the canonization of saints of the Yekaterinburg Metropolitan, spoke about the life of General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev.


Mother Eustafia noted that with the blessing of Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, the commission has been working for several years to collect materials for the canonization of General Tatishchev.

– In the course of our work, very unexpectedly, even for us, we managed to find a lot of information about the piety of those loyal to the Tsar. They were people of great faith, with a deep devotion to the sovereign, and they went to their “Golgotha” along with Royal Family,” said Mother Eustafia.

Adjutant General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev served Emperor Nicholas II selflessly for many years. “Noble, ideally honest,” “a merciful Christian,” “a man of touching kindness,” was how his contemporaries spoke of him. Ilya Leonidovich had deep faith and piety. His parents gave Ilya Tatischev a good education, but, most importantly, they planted in his heart a love for the Holy Scriptures and taught him mercy. From childhood, Ilya loved the gospels. When he began military service at the age of 20, his mother presented him with four small Gospels, with which he never parted with.


One of the few loyal supporters, General Tatishchev, voluntarily followed the Royal Family into exile, first to Tobolsk and then Ekaterinburg. It was here on 10th June 1918, he accepted a martyr’s death at the hands of the Bolsheviks and was buried in the cemetery of the Novo-Tikhvin Convent. In his memory, one historian wrote: “If the Russian tsar had more such nobles as Tatishchev, the revolution would not have happened …”.

After the talk by Mother Eustafia, a concert of sacred music was performed for the guests by the Gorlitsa Choir of the Missionary Institute under the direction of the choir’s conductor Tatyana V. Gnuskova. 


To learn more about General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev, click HERE to read my article Divine Liturgy for Two Loyal Servants of Nicholas II Performed in Ekaterinburg, published in Royal Russia News on 12th June 2018

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 27 December 2018

Consecration of the Imperial Room in Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

On 12th December 2018, Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursk performed the rite of Great Consecration of the renovated side-chapel in the name of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. His Eminence was served by the hierarchs of the Ekaterinburg Metropolis: Bishop Method Kamensky and Alapaevsky, Bishop Evgeny of Nizhny Tagil and Nevyansky, and Bishop Serov and Krasnoturyinsky Alexy.


At the end of the service, Metropolitan Kirill recalled in his archpastoral talk that the year 2018 – the Imperial or Royal Year – the year marking the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of the Imperial family, was widely celebrated in the Ural city. He recalled that on the night 16/17 July, an estimated 100,000 people participated in the Divine Liturgy at the Church on the Blood and the subsequent cross procession, both of which were headed by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. According to the ruling bishop, it was truly a “nationwide prayer celebration.”


And completing this year, the consecration of the renewed side-altar in the name of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers was performed in the Church on the Blood.

Metropolitan Kirill noted that a Divine Liturgy is performed once a week, on the night of Tuesday/Wednesday, in memory of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers, whose murder occurred on the night of Tuesday/Wednesday 16/17 July 1918. In addition, once a month, on the night of the 16/17, a night liturgy is also celebrated. Metropolitan Kirill reached out to Orthodox Christians asking them to attend the night service and pray to the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers.


–  Here you have this feeling – a special reverence for the Royal Family and our martyrs, the new confessors of the Russian Church, one which will enter the soul, even if the soul is cold. All this love and achievement will melt away any callousness and any coldness. And the more we pray, the more we pay attention to the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, to their feat – the feat of meekness, humility, purity, the feat of absolute love for their God and for their homeland, until then our country will stand, and no evil power will be able to disturb her. Therefore, today we especially thank God for the feat of our Regal martyrs, our holy martyrs, all those who have defended our Homeland and our Church, and thanks to whom we today live on this earth,” Metropolitan Kirill said.


The ruling bishop also thanked the senior priest of the Church on the Blood, Archpriest Maxim Minyaylo, for his work in this church, and also thanked Abbess Domnik (Korobeinikova) and the sisters of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent, who “very strongly and powerfully helped create this chapel.”


The altar of the Imperial Room is situated in the lower church, sanctified in honor of the Holy Royal Martyrs. It was established on the site of the room located in the basement of the Ipatiev House, where Emperor Nicholas II, his family, and four retainers were all brutally murdered on the night of 16/17 July 1918. In the summer of 2018, with the blessing of Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, the altar of the Imperial Chapel of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers – the so-called Royal Room – was redesigned and decorated for the Tsar’s Days held in Ekaterinburg. The interior of the room has completely changed: like the Cuvuclia in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

The central place is occupied by a  unique mosaic panel. in the central part of the altar, depicting the Holy Royal Martyrs and their loyal subjects: Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsesarevich Alexei, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, St. Eugene Botkin, Alexei Trupp, Ivan Kharitonov and Anna Demidova. The mosaic reflects the position of the Royal Passion-Bearers at the time of their martyr’s death: standing with their backs to the east, facing west, as is now depicted in the altar.

Click HERE to read my article Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg Opens Imperial Room, published on 20th June 2018, includes 11 colour photos and video

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 December 2018

Ekaterinburg Approves Final Design for St. Catherine’s Cathedral


Artist rendering of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Ekaterinburg

After years of planning, discussions and protests, the design for the reconstruction of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Ekaterinburg have been finalized. Construction of the cathedral is expected to be completed by 2023, when the Ural city marks its 300th anniversary. The large-scale project will also include the development of the adjacent territory.

The announcement was made on 7th December, the day in which Ekaterinburg celebrates its heavenly patroness. 

St. Catherine is currently immortalized in Ekaterinburg only by means of a chapel on Labour (formerly Ekaterinskaya Square), the original site of the cathedral. St. Catherine’s Cathedral was closed on 15th February 1930, and subsequently demolished the following month on 15th March.

On 18th August 1991, a memorial cross was erected, on the place where the altar of the former cathedral was located. A prayer service is held here each year in honour of the feast of St. Catherine ( 7 December). In 1998, the year marking the 275th anniversary of Ekaterinburg, a stone chapel with five domes designed by architect A.V. Dolgov was erected.


St. Catherine’s Chapel, built on the site of the cathedral in Ekaterinburg


In March 2010, the Ekaterinburg Diocese with the support of the Governor of Sverdlovsk announced a plan to reconstruct the cathedral. This plan was met with much opposition, especially after the idea to erect a “church on the water” was proposed. Protests forced organizers to reconsider the location. For more information, please refer to my article Proposed Ekaterinburg Cathedral Divides City, published on 14 March 2017.

After further debate, other sites were considered. The final choice for the construction of the cathedral will be on the Oktyabrskaya (also known as Drama Theater) Square, which is situated on the embankment of the City Pond near the Yeltsin Center. 

“People should see that we respect our history and respect traditions, since the Church of St. Catherine was originally the historical foundation of our city,”- said Alexander Andreev, Director of the St. Catherine Foundation – “the cathedral was blown up in 1930, and the city has been living with a shattered foundation for nearly a century. In our understanding (and judging by the results of a poll conducted by the Socium Foundation), the construction of the cathedral is to correct a mistake based on Soviet dogma and the restoration of historical justice.”


Artist rendering of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Ekaterinburg


The original plan was to construct the cathedral in the Russian Revival style, reflecting the style that arose in second quarter of the 19th century and was an eclectic melding of pre-Petrine Russian architecture and elements of Byzantine architecture. This idea, however, was abandoned, and the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir was taken as the basis for the new project, it will feature five-pillars and five-domes, designed according to the traditions of Old Russian architecture.

According to the first project renderings by architect Vladimir Rudnev from APM-1 bureau, the height of the cathedral was 58 meters. However, after all the improvements, the cathedral will now reach a height of 75 meters. According to the chief architect of Ekaterinburg, Andrei Molokov, the building will now blend more successfully into the city’s skyline.

The exterior decoration of the cathedral will be made from Vladimir limestone, decorated with carvings, and gilded copper domes. At night, the building will be illuminated with architectural lighting.

” The interior of the cathedral will be decorated with mosaics,” – said Alexander Andreev – “This is a unique project for Russia, which we plan to complete and consecrate by 2023. It should be noted, however, that some of the works, such as frescoes on the walls, the creation of which takes a large amount of time, will be completed after the official opening.”

The cathedral will be designed to accommodate a maximum of 2.5 thousand worshipers. The first floor will include a church shop and a tea room for parishioners, a room for tanks with holy water, a baptismal room, a hall for the Patriarch, priests and guests, as well as a refectory and rooms for the clergy. On the second floor, the architects will provide a prayer hall for 800 people. 


Artist rendering of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Ekaterinburg


According to the architects, not only a cathedral, but also a new urban space will be created. As Alexander Andreev explains, the park and Oktyabrskaya Square will be landscaped with more than 100 new trees. Moreover, the project will feature a pedestrian area between the drama theater and the Yeltsin Center. Also, the city embankment, which the city has not been upgraded since its construction, is subject to restoration.

The park itself will be divided into several zones – a children’s playground, a workout area and a skating rink.

“Our task is to “strengthen” this place, to attract there more young people”, – said Alexander Andreev – “It will be a new urban space. We are trying to create a comfortable urban environment and public space that will attract both adults and the younger generation. Our main task is to create a social and functional design. To this end, the project will involve the finest architects and designers.”

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 12 December 2018

Monument to Four Faithful Subjects of Nicholas II to be Established in Ekaterinburg

A monument to four faithful subjects who followed Emperor Nicholas II and his family into exile in 1917, and later murdered by the Bolsheviks will be established on the grounds of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent in Ekaterinburg.

Craftsmen from the Glyptica-Stone Company in St. Petersburg are currently working on a stone stele monument, which will depict life-sized images of the four loyal subjects of the Imperial family.

Adjutant General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev (1858-1918), Marshall of the Imperial Court Prince Vasiliy Aleksandrovich Dolgorukov (1868-1918), sailor Klimentiy Grigorievich Nagorny (1887-1918) and boatswain Ivan Dmitrievich Sednev (1881-1918). All of them were buried in the territory of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent. 

– Now the place of their burial is unknown. All the graves at the convent cemetery were destroyed during the Soviet years. But for the sake of preserving historical memory, with the blessing of Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, a stele will be installed on the territory of the monastery to these selfless noble people, said a spokesperson for the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent.


Adjutant General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev is one of four subjects depicted in the monument

The manufacture of the 4-meter monument, designed to perpetuate the memory of the martyrdom of the Royal Passion-bearers, was ordered by the Alexander Nevsky Novo-Tikhvin Convent in Ekaterinburg.

“It is a great honour that we received such an order, such an opportunity, ” said Mikhail Sergeyevich Parfentiev, general director of the Glyptica-Stone Company. – This is a piece of Russia’s history.

As Mikhail Sergeevich notes, this project is a great responsibility for all participants in the process.

Among the images of the subjects of Nicholas II, who voluntarily followed the sovereign into exile, first to Tobolsk, and then Ekaterinburg, the sculptors portray Adjutant-General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchevas- a man full of nobility and love for his neighbors, who loved the Gospel and knew it by heart.

The figure of Tatishchev, is depicted holding the gospel in his hands. He received this as a gift from his mother and carried it with him throughout his life. 

The monument of the four loyal Imperial subjects, will take place next year, on the territory of the Alexander Nevsky Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent. Thus, this monument will remind people for centuries of the martyrdom of the saints of the Royal Martyrs and their loyal subjects.

A Divine Liturgy was performed in Ekaterinburg on 10th June 2018 for General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev and Prince Vasili Alexandrovich Dolgorukov. Tatishchev and Dolgorukov were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in October 1981. Click HERE to read more.

A Divine Liturgy was performed in Ekaterinburg on 28th June 2018 for Ivan Dmitriyevich Sednev and Klimenty Grigorievich Nagorny.  Nagorny and Sednev were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) on 14 November 1981. Click HERE to read more.

They were listed among 52 confidants of the Imperial family, who were rehabilitated by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation on 16 October 2009, as victims of political repression.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 9 November 2018

Children’s Procession in Ekaterinburg Honour Memory of the Imperial Family


On September 30, 2018, a religious procession from the Church in Honour of the Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Seven Keys in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Royal Passion-Bearers in Ganina Yama took place. Despite the bad weather, the 6th annual procession united about 1,700 children and adults.

In the year marking the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of the Tsar’s family, the children’s procession, which took place with the blessing of Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, is timed to the beginning of the school year and is dedicated to the memory of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers.

Pupils of Sunday schools, their parents and teachers, cadets and representatives of youth organizations took part in the prayer procession which began with a Divine Liturgy in the Church on the Seven Keys. Parishioners came with their families – with children of different ages, including babies in prams to take part in the eight-kilometer journey.


In addition to residents of Ekaterinburg, children from other cities in the region took part: Krasnoufimsk, Berezovsky, Sredneuralsk, Polevsky, Kamensk-Uralsky and others.

The procession was led by children carrying banners, singing prayers and glorifications throughout the procession. They were accompanied by Cossacks of the Orenburg military Cossack society.

The harsh Ural weather did not dampen the spirits of the 1,700 people who took part in the procession, to unite and pray to the Lord God and the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers, asking for strengthening their faith and help in the upcoming school year.

A prayer service took place near the worship cross installed in Ganina Yama At the end of the service, Priest Andrei Schukin, Chairman of the Department of Religious Education and Catechism of the Ekaterinburg Diocese, addressed the children and their families with a parting word.


“Today we made this little feat even in the pouring rain,” Father Andrei said. “In our hearts, love for the holy Royal Passion-bearers does not fade, and the proof of this is the multiplicity of our religious procession.

Father Andrei noted that “the love for the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers, who loved their Fatherland, loved the Lord God, remains in our heart and performs its saving action.”

At the end of the moleben, participants in the procession were asked to eat porridge and warm themselves with hot sweet tea. The crusaders returned to the city on comfortable buses organized for the participants in the prayer procession. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 2 October 2018

Captured on Film by U.S. Cameramen – The Romanov Murder Scene (1918)

NOTE: this article was originally posted on the First World War in Film web site by Ron van Dooperen

In December 1918, a photographic team of the U.S. Signal Corps led by Captain Howard Kingsmore arrived in Yekaterinburg, Russia, where they filmed inside the house where Tsar Nicholas II and his family was brutally murdered. Against all odds, we recently found Kingsmore’s personal story on this photographic assignment, as well as part of these historic films.

The execution of the last Russian Tsar and his family hardly needs an introduction. After the Bolsheviks had taken over power the Romanov family was moved to a so-called ‘House of Special Purpose’ in Yekaterinburg. The Imperial family was kept in strict isolation within the walls of a sinister heavily guarded building that was surrounded by a palisade. The Bolsheviks initially wanted to put the Tsar on trial, but in the summer of 1918 anti-Communist forces were at the gates of Yekaterinburg, and the Reds feared their captives would fall into enemy hands. As a result, death to the Romanovs was declared. Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei were shot, bayoneted and clubbed to death on the night of 16-17 July 1918. Their bodies were disposed of in a most gruesome manner.

The Cameramen

Howard P. Kingsmore was the photographic officer of a U.S. Signal Corps camera team that recorded the operations of the American Expeditionary Army in Siberia. Born in 1886, Kingsmore started his photographic work for the Philadelphia Inquirer, covering the burial of President McKinley, the coal strikes of 1901-1902 and the 50th anniversary of the Civil War battle of Gettysburg. Around 1907 Kingsmore became chief photographer for the Philadelphia Evening Ledger. For this newspaper he covered the civil war in Mexico, as well as the Punitive Expedition by General Pershing into that country in 1916. When the United States entered World War I he applied for a commission in the U.S. Signal Corps as a photographic officer. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in September 1917, appears to have made mostly training pictures while he was in America and in Augustus 1918 was promoted to Captain, when a photographic section was set up for the Siberian Expedition. After the First World War Kingsmore became a cameraman for Fox News.


The Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg. 1918

Interview with Kevin Brownlow

Judging from the production file of the films that were made by Kingsmore and his camera team, they filmed across Siberia between November 1918 and February 1919, covering various operations by the Expeditionary Force that was trying to push the Red Army out of Russia. We have described this Signal Corps footage from Russia in more detail in a previous weblog. Five men were selected for this  photographic team, including two movie camera operators. One of Kingsmore’s men, Philip Tannura, was interviewed by Kevin Brownlow for his book The War, the West and the Wilderness. Tannura was among Kingsmore’s cinematographers and in the interview with Brownlow Tannura mentioned how he accompanied Kingsmore while they visited the place where the Tsar and his family were executed. “We couldn’t find out whether they had actually been killed or not”, Tannura said. “We photographed all the rooms.”

Kingsmore said he boarded a Red Cross freight train in Vladivostok in November 1918. The trip across Siberia took about nine weeks. The accommodation on the train was of a most primitive nature. The American cameramen traveled in box cars that were originally built for cattle. Arriving in Yekaterinburg, the cameramen found the city controlled by Czech forces. These had taken Yekaterinburg shortly after the Tsar and his family were murdered. Kingsmore was told the Romanovs were subjected to many indignities by the Communist soldiers who guarded them. It should be noted here that at the moment when Kingsmore and Tannura arrived in Yekaterinburg an official investigation was still being carried out on the mysterious disappearance of the Imperial family. As far as the Kremlin was concerned, they had simply vanished into thin air and the Communists denied any allegation they had killed the Romanovs.

Photographic Evidence of the Romanov Execution

Kingsmore’s and Tannura’s pictures indicate this was a fabricated lie. One of their still photographs shows the cellar where the Romanovs were executed. Bullets were dug out of the wall by the Bolsheviks to destroy evidence of the crime, but the holes still remained and were clearly visible. Their pictures also demonstrate how the Tsar’s children had to sleep on the floor, as well as the search by the investigating commitee for further proofs of the execution. Kingsmore also appears to have talked with eye witnesses. One told him the Romanovs were on their knees begging for mercy while they were executed in the basement of the house.

Part of the footage that was shot at Yekaterinburg has been retrieved and identified by the authors in the film collection of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. These scenes were probably taken by Tannura and show an exterior of the Czech military headquarters, the house the Romanovs lived in, as well as shots of the Czarina’s room and the room that was occupied by the Tsar’s daughters. We edited these historic scenes into a short clip that has been posted on our YouTube channel.

Click HERE to read a newspaper article from the Grand Forks Herald on Kingsmore’s experiences in Siberia 

© Ron van Dopperen. 12 September 2018

Old Ekaterinburg through the lens of Prokudin-Gorsky


Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky, self-portrait 1912

I have had the pleasure of visiting the Ural city of Ekaterinburg on three occasions over the past six years: 2012, 2016, and most recently in July 2018. Out of all the Russian cities which I have visited since 1986, Ekaterinburg has become my favourite. 

It is a city rich in history, and the setting for one of the darkest pages in 20th century Russian history: the final days and murder of Russia’s last tsar Nicholas II and his family in the Ipatiev House on the night of 16/17 July 1918.

Sadly, the city is overlooked by most visitors to Russia. It is seldom included in group tours, relying mainly on foreigners travelling on the Trans-Siberian Express. Many of them stay for only one or two nights, which really is not enough time to explore and appreciate what Ekaterinburg has to offer. Having said this, however, Ekaterinburg is becoming increasingly popular with Chinese tourists, and the FIFA World Cup matches held in the city in June 2018 have helped spread the word to foreigners, that Ekaterinburg is indeed worth visiting.

As a devout book collector, I have always been on the hunt for pictorials, which offer vintage photographs of what life was like in Russia before the 1917 Revolution. During my most recent visit to Ekaterinburg, my book hunting skills produced a couple of gems to add to my personal home/office library.  


Дом Ипатьева: летописная хроника в документах и фотографиях

“Дом Ипатьева: летописная хроника в документах и фотографиях” (Ipatiev House. Documentary and Photographic Annals. 1877-1977) by photojournalist and historian Vitaly Shytov. Published in 2013 in a hard cover edition in Chelyabinsk by the Auto-Count Publishing House, the book features more than 700 pages and more than 1,000 photographs. Only available in Russian. Shytov has dedicated 40 years of study to the tragic history of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg. There were only 500 copies printed, and it remains the the most comprehensive study of the Ipatiev House to date. Sadly, Shytov’s research has been virtually ignored by Western historians, who have written on the last days of the Imperial family in the ‘House of Special Purpose’. 


Екатеринбург: История города в фотографии

Екатеринбург: История города в фотографии. Том 1: Вторая половина XIX – начало XX веков (Ekaterinburg: History of the City in Photographs. Volume I. Second half of 19th – early 20th century) by A.V. Berkovich and O. A. Bukharkina. Second edition published in 2015 by the Ekaterinburg City Administration. Published in a hardcover edition, the book features 208 pages, and more than 200 vintage photographs. Despite the Cyrillic text on the book’s cover, the contents are in both Russian and English.

The latter presents a very different view of Ekaterinburg, in that it presents for the first time, a selection of historic photos from the most famous photographer of old Ekaterinburg Veniamin Leontiyevich Metenkov (1857-1933).


The Metenkov House and Photographic Museum is situated near the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

Sadly, the Revolution destroyed the photography business which Metenkov created. He died in obscurity in 1933, his name forgotten for more than half a century. After the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the house where Metenkov lived and worked was turned into a museum named after him. Until recently Metenkov’s archive was believed to be lost, however, a persistent search for the photographers’ legacy yielded the discovery of more than 200 negatives in the funds of the Sverdlovsk Oblast State Archive. 

Another noteworthy Ekaterinburg photographer was the city doctor Vladimir Alexandrovich Paduchev (1859-1919). The Paduchev family archive of more than 500 negatives focus on the private world of the city middle class, taken during the first decade of the 20th century. The collection lay hidden in an old barn for more than a century, before their discovery.

ALL colour photographs below are courtesy of the Ekaterinburg City Administration

The unique photographic view of Pre-Revolutionary Russia and Ekaterinburg, however, belong to the pioneer of colour photography Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944).

His photos of Russia’s nature and monuments earned him invitations to show his work to the Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich and the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in 1908, and to Tsar Nicholas II and his family in 1909. The Tsar enjoyed the demonstration, and, with his blessing, Prokudin-Gorsky got the permission and funding to document Russia in colour. In the course of ten years, he was to make a collection of 10,000 photos.

Using a railroad-car darkroom provided by Tsar Nicholas II, Prokudin-Gorsky traveled the Russian Empire from 1905 to 1915, using his three-image colour photography to record its many aspects. He arrived in Ekaterinburg in 1909, where he gave lectures and visited Veniamin Metenkov at his home. Metenkov accompanied Prokudin-Gorsky on his trips in and around the city, suggesting interesting locations to be photographed. 

Prokudin-Gorskii left Russia in 1918, after the Russian Revolution, and eventually settled in Paris, where he died in 1944. While some of his negatives were lost, Library of Congress purchased a collection of more than 2,600 images from the photographer’s sons in 1948.

All three photographers are represented in this handsome volume. Their legacies transcend a century, allowing the reader to look back to a unique and beautiful city, far removed from the ancient Russian capital of Moscow, and the glittering Imperial capital of St. Petersburg. These images document daily life in the Ural city, which has changed beyond recognition, many historic landmarks lost forever, and only the photographs preserve the flow of a lost world. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 5 September 2018


Russian Orthodox Church in Dispute Over Porosenkov Log


Royal Russia Founder at Porosenkov Log, during his visit to Ekaterinburg, July 2018

Back in March 2016, I reported that Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye had made a request to the Sverdlovsk regional government to transfer the land in and around Porosenkov Log (3.7 hectares) to the Ekaterinburg Diocese. The territory is simultaneously claimed by the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local History in Ekaterinburg. My report was followed up by a second article on the dispute in July 2017 (see links below for both articles – PG). 

Since the events marking the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family last month, the subject is again making headlines in the Urals media.

According to a document signed by the head of the regional forestry department Oleg Sandakov, as early as 2016, Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye made a request to the regional government to transfer Porosenkov Log to the diocese “for gratuitous urgent use for religious activities.” Scans of the relevant documents (see below) were published last week on the Memorial of the Romanovs Facebook page.


In June 2014, a request was made to recognize Porosenkov Log as a cultural heritage site. Then, the regional ministry of culture planned to transfer the Romanov Memorial site to the Sverdlovsk Museum of Local History. The official opening of the memorial was planned to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of the Holy Royal Martyrs in July 2018.

In 2016, however, the Ekaterinburg Diocese began to interfere with the plans. In February of the same year, Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye sent an appeal to the Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region Evgeny Kuyvashev, in which he asked to declare invalid the document on the transfer of the site to the museum. The governor granted the Metropolitan’s appeal, with the regional ministry of culture subsequently putting the project on hold. 

“Due to the historical and spiritual significance of the territory, and in order to avoid any disagreements between secular and religious parties, an official note was sent to the governor of the Sverdlovsk region on the expediency of organizing a discussion on the development of the territory as a cultural heritage site with all interested parties,” said the head of the regional department of forestry Oleg Sandakov.

On the eve of the Tsar’s Days held in Ekaterinburg last month, the Russian Investigative Committee confirmed that genetic examinations on the remains found at Porosenkov Log belong to the murdered Imperial family. It was hoped that Patriarch Kirill would officially recognize the remains during his visit to Ekaterinburg, however, this did not happen. An estimated 100,000 people took part in the pilgrimage from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama, where once again the final prayer service was held, which is still considered by the ROC to be the final burial place of the bodies of the royal martyrs. Porosenkov Log was not included in the pilgrimage.

Despite the fact that the authenticity of the “royal remains” has not been recognized by the ROC, the Ekaterinburg Diocese is unlikely to back away from its plans. It can not be ruled out that the dispute over the site will be put on hold until the time when the church changes its position.

It is believed that not “if” but “when” the Moscow Patriarchate officially recognize the “Ekaterinburg remains”, that a new monastery in honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs, similar to the one situated 3.8 km down the road at Ganina Yama, will be constructed at Porosenkov Log.


Paul Gilbert at the second grave where the remains of Alexei and Maria where discovered in 2007

Click HERE to read my article ROC Seeks Claim to Site of Royal Remains Grave Near Ekaterinburg (3 March 2016); and HERE to read my article Ekaterinburg Eparchy and Local Museum Argue Over Future of Porosenkov Log (24 July 2017)

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 13 August 2018

‘Point of No Return’ – Ekaterinburg Street Art in Memory of the Russian Imperial Family


Unique street art in memory of the Russian Imperial Family has been created in an underground passage in the center of Ekaterinburg. The work entitled “Point of no return” depicts two groups of people on opposite walls of the passage.

On one side are depicted: Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, their five children, and four faithful retainers – all of whom were murdered on the night of 16/17 July 1918 in the basement of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg. 


On the other side the murderers: the Ural Chekists and the guard of the “House of Special Purpose”, the participants in the murders of the Romanovs. Between the two images on the floor is a red circle – Точка невозврата (Point of no return), standing on which, one gets a sense of being in the line of fire.

The appearance of the street art is timed to the 100th anniversary of the deaths of the Imperial Family in Ekaterinburg. The underground passage is located in close proximity to the Church on the Blood, built on the site of the Ipatiev House. 


The executor of the work was the GREAT Advertising Group (St. Petersburg), and the ZNAK Information Agency.

“The idea belongs to the GREAT Advertising Group. We liked it, and immediately accepted it. This work is a desire to recall the tragedy of the shooting in the basement of the Ipatiev House, which included the murder of innocent children and servants. It became a symbol of the tragedy of all Russia, a great tragedy of the twentieth century. This shooting really became a ‘point of no return’ for Russia. We believe it is important that a person can feel this point, literally stand on it, even for a moment,” said Dmitry Kolezev, deputy editor-in-chief of

“We wanted to create something without any gadgets and technologies, something with simple and affordable means, which would allow people to get a sense of what it must have felt to face the murderers. To try to literally immerse yourself in a tragic moment, to become a part of it, to stand between the defenseless Imperial family and their murderers with revolvers,” said the creators from the GREAT Advertising Group.


Sadly, the work is only temporary – the artwork was not done with paint, but with a film, making it easy to remove, and leaving the transition walls clean.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 July 2018

More than 100,000 participate in Liturgy, all-night procession for 100th anniversary of Holy Royal Martyrs


The Russian Orthodox Church has been celebrating the centenary of the martyrdom of the last Imperial family of Russia with numerous events throughout Russia all year, with the celebrations culminating in a Patriarchal Divine Liturgy in Ekaterinburg and all-night cross procession in their honor.

100,000 faithful Orthodox Christians, monarchists, among others from around the world, including Azerbaijan, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Lithuania, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Serbia, USA, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, France, Estonia, South Korea, and Japan, gathered in Ekaterinburg on the night of 16/17 July for the liturgical celebrations.


The first Tsar’s Days procession took place in 1992, with the participation of but a few dozen.

The event began with the Divine Liturgy celebrated on the square in front of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg, built on the site where the Ipatiev House once stood, where the family was murdered. The service was headed by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill with more than 35 hierarchs and multiple clergy concelebrating.

The entire service was broadcasted live on the Orthodox TV station “Union:”

A special platform was erected for the Liturgy in front of the gates of the lower church, where the “Imperial Room” is located—a chapel in honor of the Royal Martyrs, built on specific site of their martyrdom.

Following the Liturgy, the patriarch led the traditional Royal Cross Procession from the place of martyrdom of the holy Royal Martyrs and their servants to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers at Ganina Yama ravine, covering a distance of 21 km (13 miles).


According to law enforcement agencies, about 100,000 took part in the procession.

According to tradition, the faithful carried banners and icons in the procession, including a 6.5-ft. icon of the Tsar-Martyr, painted in 2017 for the Church of the “Reigning” Icon of the Mother of God at Ganina Yama. Together with the kiot, the icon weighs 330 lbs. A special bier on wheels was made to move the heavy icon.

The procession was also accompanied by 25 mobile groups from an Orthodox charity service, consisting of clergy, representatives of the Dormition Orthodox Brotherhood of Ekaterinburg, sisters of mercy, and volunteers, who provided assistance to those who could not walk the entire route of the procession. Field kitchens and tests were also set up at the Royal Passion-Bearers Monastery for the pilgrims to rest.

His Holiness and the procession arrived at the monastery in the morning, where the patriarch served a moleben to the Royal Martyrs in front of the memorial cross erected at Mine #7, where the bodies of the Royal Martyrs were abused and disposed of. His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II thus referred to Ganina Yama as “a living antimens, permeated with particles of the burnt holy relics.”


His Holiness then addressed the sea of faithful with a primatial word:

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

Your Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine! Fellow archpastors! Dear brothers and sisters, gathered in a multitude this night before the place where one hundred years ago was committed a terrible crime—wholly innocent people, who had committed their lives to the service of their Motherland, were killed by the evil will of man!

This atrocity still chafes our conscience, still causes us to mentally return to that time and try to understand what happened to our country and to our people. Where did this insanity, this attack come from? Looking from a distance of one hundred years, even if we want to we cannot see all the nuances of the national life of our people, which fade from memory and are missed by even the most penetrating gaze. But such crimes, as were committed here, cannot be accidental. Something stood behind this crime; behind it is the collective guilt of our people, a turn in the historical life of Holy Rus’, which led the people into a heavy, terrible impasse.

What happened to our people? After all, the country was covered with churches and monasteries, an absolute majority of the people were baptized, and the churches were filled with people. Why did it happen? Why did the murderers squeeze the trigger, without trembling at what they were doing? It means not everything was favorable. It means the sunlight reflected in the gilded domes was not always refracted into human hearts to strengthen faith in the Lord in them. And we know how over the course of at least 200 years preceding the tragedy of the Ipatiev House some changes occurred in the people’s consciousness that gradually but steadily led many to a departure from God, neglect of the commandments, and a loss of spiritual connection with the Church and the centuries-old spiritual tradition.

Why did this happen to our people? Why did they at some point become like a train whose engineer didn’t calculate its speed and heads into a steep turn, rushing towards an imminent catastrophe? When did we as people start this turn? We entered when alien thoughts, alien ideals, and an alien worldview, formed under the influence of philosophical and political theories, having nothing in common either with Christianity or our national tradition and culture, began to be perceived by the intelligentsia and aristocracy and even part of the clergy as advanced thoughts by which it was possible to change the people’s lives for the better.

Indeed, the idea of changing the life of the people for the better arises whenever there is a plan to abruptly change the course of history. We know that the worst and bloodiest revolutions have always occurred in view of people’s aspirations for a better life. The leaders of these revolutions instilled in the people that there is no other way to make life better—only by blood, only through death, only through the destruction of the existing way of life. And at some point, having abandoned their spiritual birthright, having lost their true connection with the Church and God, the intelligentsia, aristocracy, and even, as I have already said, part of the clergy were darkened in mind and infected with the thought of the need to drastically change the course of our national history and to try to build as quickly as possible a world where justice reigns, where there is no bygone separation according to material indicators, where people live peacefully and happily. As a result, many of those captured by this idea reach the point of committing crimes.

A question arises: “Is it possible through crime, through blood, through violence, and through the destruction of holy sites to build a happy life?” History clearly testifies: It is impossible! And, perhaps, the first and most important lesson that we should learn today from the tragedy of a century ago is that no promises of a happy life, no hope for help from outside, from some supposedly more educated and advanced people should seduce our people. We must remember the tragedy of the past. We must develop an immunity to any call to attain to human happiness through the destruction of that which is.

Hardly did anyone who called for the destruction of the people’s lives destroy their own lives, renouncing their own wellbeing. But with what fury they proposed to do it to everyone! And the people absorbed this lie; and the crowning act of departure from the most sacred and valuable that they had was the hideous execution of the Royal Family—innocent people who had not violated the law. And what kind of law could we even be talking about if it was necessary to kill the Tsar and his family to build a happy life? We know that nothing turned out well, and taught by bitter experience, we must build a robust rejection of any ideas and any leaders who propose to strive for some obscure “happy future” through the destruction of the life of the people, our traditions, and our faith.

Today, gathered here in such a great number, we remember the tragedy of the Ipatiev House. We have lifted up prayers to the Lord, we have prayed to the Emperor and Passion-Bearer Nicholas and those who suffered with him, that they would pray in Heaven for our earthly Fatherland and for our people and strengthen the Orthodox faith in every subsequent generation of Russians; that faithfulness to God and love for the Fatherland would accompany the lives of the youth and subsequent generations, and that no tragedy of this kind would ever happen again in our land.

May the Lord preserve our Russian land and the Russian people who today live in various countries; and although they are called by various names, are the same people who came out of the Kievan baptismal font, and passing though the most severe historical circumstances, have retained the Orthodox faith until today. May God’s blessing be upon our people, upon our Fatherland, and upon our martyric Russian Orthodox Church. May the life of our people be transfigured by the prayers of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church—without any upheavals or blood, but upon the firm foundation of faith and hope that God is with us! May the Lord save us all by the prayers of the holy Royal Passion-Bearers and all the New Martyrs!


© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 July 2018