Skip to comments.Descendant of last czar pushes Russia to admit mistake
Posted on 01/09/2006 10:44:33 AM PST by lizol
Descendant of last czar pushes Russia to admit mistake.
Relative seeks formal admission that Nicholas II was unjustly killed
By GRAEME SMITH
Monday, January 9, 2006
YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA -- On the face of it, Maria Romanova's legal application to Russian prosecutors might seem straightforward.
As the self-described head of the surviving family of Nicholas II, Russia's last czar, Ms. Romanova wants rehabilitation for her ancestors, according to her lawyer. Under Russian law, this would mean a formal admission that Nicholas II was unjustly killed along with his wife, children and attendants after revolution swept away Russia's monarchy.
Boris Yeltsin went far beyond such recognition during his term as Russian president, apologizing for the killings and describing the incident as one of the most shameful chapters of Russian history. The Russian Orthodox Church went even further, canonizing the family as minor saints.
But the country's legal system has never recognized that anything wrong happened on the night of July 16 and 17, 1918, when Bolsheviks lined up the royal family in the basement of a house in Yekaterinburg and shot them to death.
"This is the last step," said German Lukyanov, the family lawyer. "Why must this be done? Russia needs it, to finally close this disgraceful, bloody chapter of Russian history."
Closing the case of Russia's last czar might prove difficult, however. Many details about the incident are passionately disputed, and Ms. Romanova's application last month has shaken the dust off old debates that some Russians would rather leave undisturbed.
"The question of the czars is implied in the question of whether communism was a good idea," said Ivan Plotnikov, 80, a retired colonel and professor of history in Yekaterinburg.
"And this is a question some people still ask themselves."
The emotions run deepest in this industrial city on the eastern edge of Siberia, about 1,600 kilometres east of Moscow.
During interviews, some historians grew red-faced, raised their voices and even foamed at the mouth when arguing about what happened here almost a century ago.
The downfall of the royal Romanov family started in 1917, when discontent with the monarchy broke out into riots on the streets of St. Petersburg. The government resigned and parliament asked the emperor to give up his throne. Nicholas obeyed, and was eventually forced into house arrest in Yekaterinburg.
As civil war raged in the summer of 1918, opponents of the Bolsheviks approached the city and Bolshevik leaders decided to kill the czar to prevent the advancing army from saving him.
But questions about the killings almost outnumber the facts: Did Vladimir Lenin himself give the execution order, as many believe? Were the remains buried in a shallow grave, as some say, or have the real bodies never been discovered?
The absence of any court records or written execution order could make it difficult to apply the Russian law on rehabilitation, some experts say, because the Prosecutor-General may decide there isn't any decision that could be overturned.
The Russian government held a burial ceremony in St. Petersburg in 1998 for remains of the czar, his wife, three of his children and four attendants, after a geologist claimed the discovery of their bodies outside Yekaterinburg.
But the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church boycotted the event because of doubts about the authenticity of the bones, and those questions grew stronger after DNA analysis by Japanese researchers contradicted the results of several other DNA tests.
Perhaps most troubling for Ms. Romanova's legal process are the questions posed by experts in Yekaterinburg about her credibility. The birth certificate for czar Nicholas that she submitted as part of her application looks as though it could belong to anybody, said Vadim Viner, a businessman from Yekaterinburg who has been researching the death of the Romanovs for 17 years.
"She probably got the certificate from some homeless person whose name was Nicholas," Mr. Viner said, slouching in a badly rumpled three-piece suit in his small, dark office.
Mr. Lukyanov, the lawyer, said every document was obtained through exhaustive research, and added that he hopes to keep the question of rehabilitation separate from the debate over the royal bones.
While no execution order from Moscow is known to exist, Mr. Lukyanov has submitted a copy of Leon Trotsky's memoirs about his role as a leading Bolshevik.
Returning from the front in the civil war, Mr. Trotsky wrote, he asked another Bolshevik leader, Jacob Sverdlov, what had happened to the czar. Mr. Sverdlov replied that the entire family was shot dead, and explained: "Ilyich Lenin thought we shouldn't leave them a living banner in such hard times."
Under the law, Russia's Prosecutor-General has until March 1 to respond to Mr. Lukyanov's request.
Whatever the result, Russians will likely remain fascinated by the mystery.
"Russia is looking for truth not just on this question but on many others," said Veniamin Alekseevm, a history professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
"If we understand this event, then we can understand what happened to Russia in the 20th century."
If you're taking over a country it would seem be the smart thing to do to kill all those who might resurrect a claim on the throne. A time-honored technique, which I believe pre-dates Rome.
Has he been recognized as a "saint"?
Please provide any details, I didn't realize he was that popular in Russia.
> No one should be shot in a basement by some thugs for being "probably guilty of" anything.
He was, however, guilty of being a monarch. That's cause enough right there. The kids, though... no. But there's no such thing as a ruling monarch undeserving of a bullet to the brainpan. Squish!
See paragraph 2 of the article.
The reporter went to the trouble of finding the approximate distance between the two cities and then lazily wrote that it was on the eastern edge of Siberia. This distance puts at the western edge of Siberia! Sloppy reporting, lazy reporter.
Kamchatka Peninsula is on the eastern edge of Siberia.
Note: this topic is from 1/09/2006. Thanks lizol.
Unjustly killed, my Auntie’s fanny. All this hand wringing over the execution of the Czar and his immediate family is an exercise in fascist nostalgia. From what I’ve read of history, the Nicholas II was as much an incompetent airhead as Obama. He was murdered why? because his subjects were happy, contented workers living fulfilling lives under a benevolent monarch?! As a Republican, I find monarchy a hideous concept that needs to be wiped off the face of the Earth. I have no sympathy for monarchs, oligarchs, royalty, aristocracy, plutocracy or kleptocracy. European history is one long tale of discontent, rebellion and hatred for the tyrannical excesses of the nobility. Frankly, the Czar got what he deserved. Had his assassins been religious mystics, lone nuts or midget circus clowns, I’d raise my flagon to them with a âwell doneâ.
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