Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The Imperial Family: The End of the Chapter

Church of the Saviour “on the Spilled Blood” (Spas na Krovi), Yekaterinburg

On the eve of the 90th anniversary of the shooting of Nikolai II, his family, and his retainers, an exhibition recounting the last months of the life of the imperial family and its tragic fate opened at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Material evidence of one of the most horrific crimes in Russian history is on display.

One sees the last portraits of the Grand Princesses, the Tsarevich, and the imperial couple. It was what they left in Yekaterinburg. There are mementoes of their last days such as the food ration card of Nikolai Romanov, no. 54, stating that the family was to receive 5 poods (81.9 kilos/180.55 pounds) of fine flour and 7.5 poods (122.85 kilos/270.825 pounds) of sugar per month. (The figure for sugar is probably a typo, a figure 1/10 of that given would be closer to the truth: editor’s note)

There are 28 bullets taken from the bodies, and there are no doubts on this score, for all of the bullets were fired from the same type of weapon, a Browning. “The bullets fired and discovered at the burial site, and the bullets found at Ganina Yama, several rounds at each site, were fired from the same type of weapon. Forensic examination categorically confirms this fact. The events at these two sites had to be connected”, said Vladimir Solovyov, inspector of the independent major case investigating service of the RF Procurator’s Office.

Entrance sign at the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

The investigation that Mr Solovyov has carried out into the shooting of the imperial family has already taken ten years. It was his decision to subject the bullets to ballistic examination. He was personally present at the last identification of the remains. Forensic specialists have finished investigating the so-called nuclear DNA, where relationship is established in the male line. The results of the study shall be announced shortly. “An official statement regarding the remains thought to be those of Aleksei and Maria shall be made in the middle of the month”, Mr Solovyov promised.

On exhibit is the bayonet-knife used by Pyotr Yermakov, the commander of the execution squad, to finish off the Tsarevich, Grand Princess Anastasia, and Maid Anna Demidova. Next to it is the note by Urals Military Commissar Voikov demanding 170 litres (37 Imperial gallons/45 US gallons) of sulphuric acid for the destruction of the bodies.

We know who carried out the shooting, for they left tracks that could be followed, but, as for who gave the order to murder the imperial family… history is silent. “There is no documentary evidence to prove that it was Lenin or Sverdlov, unfortunately, there is nothing to go on. There is documentary evidence of the decision of the Urals Soviet, but, we know that all too frequently the decisions of underlings were shaped by hints dropped by higher levels of authority”, noted Vladimir Mironenko, the director of the RF Public Archive.

Memorial Cross at the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

This exhibition also presents items from the entire life of the imperial family. Here is Nikolai II’s temperance edict. This decree commanded an end to the brewing of beer. Another photograph shows the tsar personally checking the comfort of a new pattern of military uniform, he marched for 10 kilometres (@6.2 miles) wearing it. There is a general plan of the city of Moscow made in 1900 that confirms that plans were drawn up for a Metro system, admittedly, not underground, but, on elevated tracks. However, the money available was insufficient for the completion of the project. “According to the plans, a metro station was going to be built on Red Square (and, by the way, a Metro station today is under Red Square), we know this because the archives preserves the plans of the metro and of the projected stations, which were to be at St Basil Cathedral and the Historical Museum”, said Sergei Balan, director of the showroom of the Federal Archives section of the RF Public Archive.

Ball dresses, hymns, the figures of the Grand Princesses… Tomorrow, Patriarch Aleksei of Moscow and all the Russias shall solemnly open the exhibition on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the shooting of the imperial family.

1 July 2008

Alena Akinshina

Vesti (News)

Quoted in Interfax-Religion


Photographs from the website of the Novo-Tikhvin Convent of Yekaterinburg



Archbishop Nikon of Ufa shall celebrate the Funeral of Celebrated Film Actress Nonna Mordyukova

Nonna Mordyukova (1925-2008), Honoured Artist of Russia and People’s Artist of the USSR

Archbishop Nikon of Ufa and Sterlitamak shall celebrate the funeral of Nonna Mordyukova, People’s Artist of the USSR and celebrated film actress, on Wednesday in the chapel of the Kuntsevsky Cemetery in Moscow. Three years ago, when Ms Mordyukova was gravely ill, Vladyki Nikon, who is a trained physician, read about her condition in one of the specialised medical journals and decided to help the beloved actress. He went to Moscow, gave Nonna Viktorovna spiritual succour, and he also purchased expensive medications for her, the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda (Komsomol Truth) reported on Tuesday. Vladyki Nikon’s assistance so touched Ms Mordykova’s soul that she asked him to perform her funeral when her time came. “They rang us up from the Guild of Actors and passed on Nonna Viktorovna’s request”, said Maksim Stepanenko, the head of the missionary division of the Diocese of Ufa. Ms Mordyukova died Sunday evening at the age of 82 in a Moscow hospital. She shall be buried next to her son per the request in her will. The gravesite is in the old section of the cemetery.

In 1949, she received the State Prize for her role of Ulyana Gromova in the film Molodaya Gvardiya (The Young Guards), and 24 years later, she received the Brothers Vasiliev State Prize of the RFSFR for her roles in Zhuravushka and Predsedatel (The Chairman). The following year, she was awarded the title of People’s Artist of the USSR. In 1992, she was honoured by the British publication “Who’s Who” by being listed as one of the ten most outstanding film actresses of the 20th century, and in 2000, she was awarded the Order “For Services to the Motherland” for both her general and personal contributions to the development of the cinematographic art. Ms Mordyukova played over 60 roles in films. Amongst those most loved by the public are her appearances in the comedies Brilliantovaya Ruka (Diamond Hand), Vokzal v Dvoikh (Station for Two), Zhenitba Balzaminova (Marriage is Balzaminova), and Rodnya (The Relatives).

8 July 2008



MP Concerned by the Anglican Decision to Ordain Women to the Episcopate

Canterbury Cathedral (Anglican, Church of England)

The Moscow Patriarchate expressed concern about the Anglican Synod’s decision yesterday to ordain women to the episcopate. “Undoubtedly, this decision is an utterly unhealthy step in the inter-Christian dialogue, as it further alienates the Anglican Communion from the Apostolic tradition”, Fr Igor Vyzhanov, head of the secretariat for Inter-Christian Relations of the MP Department for External Church Relations, stated to an Interfax-Religion correspondent on Tuesday. Fr Igor also said that the Anglican Synod’s decision to ordain women to the episcopate “is a very painful blow to the unity of the Anglican Communion, as it aggravates the division amongst Anglicans. Unfortunately, the decision was predictable because very liberal tendencies prevail in many Christian Churches today, particularly in the Anglican Communion”, he said.

In the late 19th to the early 20th centuries, the Orthodox saw the Anglican Church as “the closest to us amongst the western Christian Churches”, he said. “A very serious dialogue resulted, leading to hopes that good relations between the Orthodox and Anglicans would have good prospects”, Fr Igor said. “If we look at documents of that time, one simply cannot believe that it was the same church then, because, now, regretfully, we see how the Anglican Communion increasingly abandons the traditional understanding of church life”, he said.

In his opinion, the present decision of the Anglican Communion manifests “the tendency of secular European thought to follow everything through to its logical conclusion”. Fr Igor emphasised that church life and the sphere of religious faith “is not the place to apply the rational logic of secular society”. In this connection, he quoted the words of a well-known philosopher that said, “Any thought carried through to its logical conclusion becomes an absurdity”. “We see what absurd results flow from an application of liberal ideas to, for example, Christian moral standards”, Fr Igor said.

He noted that the MP shall attentively follow the developments at the Lambeth Conference, the largest meeting of representatives from all the Anglican churches, which is scheduled to begin on 16 July and run through 3 August. He mentioned that this conference shall discuss, amongst other things, questions of Anglican cooperation in the field of Christian moral theology; in particular, it shall examine the question of homosexuality, both the ordination of openly gay individuals and the blessing of homosexual unions.

8 July 2008



President Medvedev Calls for New Global Economic Security System

President Dmitri Medvedev urged G8 leaders to develop a new global economic security system. He stated this at a news briefing in the city of Toyako on Hokkaido, where the G8 summit of leading industrialised countries is underway. Mr Medvedev said that the present structure has failed to satisfy almost all countries. There is a need to think about forming a structure for the future. All G8 countries, as well as other states, should move away from selfish national interests. They should not talk to one another as economic egoists. The situation where the dollar is weak and the euro is overvalued does not satisfy Russia’s partners. In fact, no one is satisfied by the current situation. Consequently, the countries involved should promote the idea put forward a week ago about converting the rouble into a reserve currency.

Concerning energy security, President Medvedev voiced support for linking the interests of producing countries, consumer countries, and transit countries. Mr Medvedev said, “In view of this, there is a need for working out some new international resolutions and agreements. In any case, Russia is convinced that several international conventions, such as the Energy Charter have failed to work or work inefficiently. There is a reason for holding talks in order to coordinate these efforts in a new light”. Moreover, Mr Medvedev said, “Russia suggests that we should hold a ‘grain summit’ as a move to solve the food security issue”.

Mr Medvedev said he put forward two proposals. “One is linked with the need for setting up a new format inside the G8 with the involvement of agriculture ministers from these countries. The proposal was supported. The second proposal was holding a special session to discuss reasons that led to the grain price hikes and possible ways to stabilise the situation in this area”, he said.

Mr Medvedev believes that the possibility of holding informal talks on the sidelines of the summit is very important. In his opinion, such discussions are simple and productive. In this respect, this format is unique and useful, President Medvedev emphasised.

8 July 2008

Vyacheslav Solovyov

Voice of Russia World Service


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