On the Rehabilitation of Tsar Nicholas II and His Family

[EDITOR’S NOTE: On 1 October 2008, the Presidium of the Supreme Court of Russia did grant judicial rehabilitation1 to Emperor Nicholas II and his immediate family. This article was written before that decision. No other names, other than the Emperor and his immediate family, were mentioned in the decision.]

The verdict of the Presidium of the Supreme Court of Russia to deny the requested judicial rehabilitation of Emperor Nicholas II and his family is significant. Several important questions remain unanswered. Why did reaching a verdict take so long; and why did the High Public Prosecutor’s office and all the preceding court deliberations end in the rejection of the legal rehabilitation of the royal family? Why have all those who were executed in the Ipatiev House not yet been rehabilitated; and even more so, all those who were executed and repressed2 simply because they were connected to the Emperor and his family? And finally, how do matters stand regarding restitution?3

Some time ago it fell my lot to be occupied with these and other matters connected with the shooting of the Emperor and his family. In 1988, Gelli Ryabov told me about the finding of the remains in the early 1980’s . In 1997–1998, I worked as councilor to the Vice-Premier, who was chairman of the Governmental Commission to Investigate and Rebury the Remains of Emperor Nicholas II and the Members of his Family.

After the burial in 1998, a paradoxical situation arose. The remains found in 1991 were given meticulous investigation by both Russian and foreign experts;4 the internment5 had a solemn State character [shown live on several television stations6]; and the royal family was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church. Yet, incongruously, the members of the imperial family remained un-rehabilitated. And in the mass media appeared many twisted facts, outright falsifications, and “myths” smearing the character of the tsar; articles appeared with the intention of creating phobias in the public mind about the restoration of monarchy.

In November 2002, this writer sent a “Petition Regarding Rehabilitation” to A.N. Yakovlev, the chairman of the Commission Under the President of the Russian Federation for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression. The petition began thus: “Because of the [official] vacillations over the inestimably tragic events in the history of Russia, I to turn to you with this petition.” In it, in part, is said the following:

During the burial ceremony of the last Russian emperor and his family on 17 July 1998 in the Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, the repentance of the President of Russia resonated over the innocent murder-victims. Having resolved the issue of internment, the governmental authorities, on the other hand, did not resolve the issue of the rehabilitation of the members of the royal family, the persons in their circle, and also all the other members of the Russian imperial house and their servants, relatives, and friends who were killed in the Urals and in St Petersburg in 1918–1919.”

The Russian Federation, according to the existing code of laws, is the lawful successor of Soviet Russia and of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics [USSR]. From the purely juridical stand­point, all the criminal charges, incriminations and verdicts of repression pronounced since 7 November 1917 continue to carry legal authority until the government officially rehabilitates the victims. A paradoxical situation thus has occurred, where the head of the Russian government has offered up repentance for the bloody violence carried out by representatives of the government on members of the imperial house and their servants, relatives and friends; where the immediate members of the family of Russian Emperor Nicholas II along with Grand-Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna have been recognized as saints by the Russian Orthodox Church; yet where, from the judicial point of view, they can legally be considered “criminals,” since they were executed as “enemies” of the government.

The governmental bodies of Soviet Russia carried out the following illegal repressions:

When the imperial family was exiled to the city of Tobolsk, servants and people close to the imperial family who arrived to be with them, also found themselves under arrest, including the following: Eugene Sergeevich Botkin—physician to the royal family; Sophia Karlovna Buxgevden—personal lady-in-waiting to the empress; Ivan VereschaginА—cook; Alexei Ivanovich Volkov—valet; Anastasia Vasilievna Gendrikova—maid of honor; Sidney Ivanovich Gibbs—English-language instructor and citizen of Great Britain; Ermolai Gusev—man-servant; Anna Stepanovna Demidova—maid; Vladimir Nicholaevich Derevenko—medical doctor; Alexei Nicholaevich Dmitriev—hairdresser/barber; Basil Alexandrovich Dolgorukov—marshal of the imperial court; Mr. Dormidontov—servant; Ekaterina Zhivaya—maid for the children’s instructress E.A. Shneider; Peter Andreevich Zhiliar—instructor to the tsarevich (crown prince) and citizen of Switzerland; Franz Zhuravski—waiter; Magdalena Franzevna Zanotti— “kamer-kapfera” [probably a lady attending the empress]; Sergei Ivanovich Ivanov—servant; Michael Karpov—attendant; Mr. Kiselev—servant; Alexander Kirpichnikov—clerk; Mr. Kokichev—cook; Stepan Makarov—helper of valet Chemodurov; Maria (last name unknown)—maidservant of instructress Shneider; Paulina Kasperovna Mezhants—servant girl of maid of honor Gendrikova; Sergei Mikhailov—kitchen helper; Klementi Grigorievich Nagorni—servant; Victorina Vladimirovna Nicholaeva—governess of maid of honor Gendrikova; Franz Pyurkovski—kitchen helper; Mr. Rozhkov—head of the food-cellar; Anna Pavlovna Romanova—maid; Ivan Dmitrievich Sednev—children’s servant; Leonid Sednev—young cook-in-training; Mr. Smirnov—attendant; Mr. Stupel—cloakroom-wardrobe attendant; Ilia Leonidovich Tatischev— ADC general [aid-de-camp general]; Alexandra Alexandrovna Tegleva—children’s governess; Mr. Terekhov—kitchen helper; Alexei Egorovich Troop—servant; Maria Gusmavovna Tumelberg—“yugo-fera” [lady in charge of the dressing-room]; Mr. Tyutin—servant; Anna Yakovlevna Utkina—maid; Ivan Michailovich Kharitonov—cook; Terenti Ivanovich Chemodurov—valet; Ekaterina Adolfovna Shneider—instructress of the royal children; and Elizaveta Nicholaevna Ersberg—helper of instructress Shneider.

After the transfer to Ekaterinburg of several members of Nicholas II’s family along with persons from his circle of friends, the following people on 30 April 1918 were placed under house-arrest in the home of N.N. Ipatiev [usually known as the “Ipatiev House”]: Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchess Maria Nicholaevna, physician to the royal family Professor E.S. Botkin, the valet T.I. Chemodurov, and the lady’s maid A.S. Demidova. On the same day, V.A. Dolgorukov and I.D. Sednev were put in prison. On 23 May 1918, from the city of Tobolsk to Ekaterinburg were transferred Tsarevich Alexei Nicholaevich, and Grand Duchesses Olga Nicholaevna, Tatiana Nicholaevna and Anastasia Nicholaevna, who were all placed in the Ipatiev House. Together with them also arrived a large group of servants and people from their circle of friends. In the Ipatiev House were placed the boy L. Sednev and the manservant A.E. Troop. The valet T.I. Chemodurov was transferred from the Ipatiev House to prison in Ekaterinburg. Immediately after the arrival in Ekaterinberg of the above-named group, the following were arrested and put in prison: I.L. Tatischev, [maid of honor] A. V. Gendrikova, [children’s instructress] E.A. Shneider, K.G. Nagornyi and A.A. Volkov.

On the night of 16-17 July 1918 in the city of Ekaterinburg in the home of engineer N.N. Ipatiev were shot the [following] members of the Russian imperial house: Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov, Empress Alexandrovna Feodorovna Romanova, the successor to the throne Tsarevich Alexei Nicholaevich Romanov[age 13], [the Tsar’s 4 daughters, ages 17-22:] Grand Duchesses Olga Nicholaevna Romanova, Tatiana Nicholaevna Romanova, Maria Nicholaevna Romanova, and Anastasia Nicholaevna Romanova. Together with them were shot physician-in-ordinary E.S. Botkin, servants A.S. Demidov and A.E. Troop, and the cook I.M. Kharitonov.

The fact of the shooting and death of the royal family and servants is common knowledge, but few people know that together with the family of the former Emperor, totally innocent people from among the servants also underwent repression —people who voluntarily followed the family into exile, helped the dethroned Tsar, or had some kind of contact with the royal family. In essence, these people voluntarily chose the path of selfless devotion and death. The repressions of these people did not end in 1919, but continued into the 1920’s and 1930’s. Unfortunately, the fate of many of these people, voluntarily having gone into exile, is now unknown, as also unknown are the full personal particulars of several of the sufferers; but that does not deprive them of the right to rehabilitation, and does not deprive their descendants of the right to be proud of their ancestors.

In June–July 1918 in Ekaterinburg without accusation, trial, or legal verdict, were shot: V.A. Dolgorukov, I.D. Sednev, I.L. Tatischev and K.G. Nagorni.

Anastasia V. Gendrikova, Ekaterina A. Shneider and A.A. Volkov were sent from Ekaterinburg to the city of Perm, where they were sentenced by the Perm Emergency Committee [Cheka]7 to execution like hostages, without any accusation. On the night of 3–4 September 1918, Anastasia V. Gendrikova and Ekaterina A. Shneider were shot near Perm (A.A. Volkov managed to flee the place of execution).

On 9 March 1918 at a meeting of the Soviet [i.e., Council] of People’s Commissars was passed the decision to exile Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich Romanov to the Perm Gubernia [Region]. Together with him in Perm as exiles were his personal secretary and citizen of Great Britain N.N. Johnson, valet V.F. Chelyshev and driver P.Ya. Borunov. Without investigation, trial or any official inquiry into the question of their guilt, M.A. Romanov and N.N. Johnson were executed by the governing authorities of Perm. Furthermore, the fact that their death was by execution was covered up by the governing authorities of Perm, who announced that M.A. Romanov and N.N. Johnson were shot while trying to escape.

Material was falsified against 37 people, about “helping organize the escape-attempt of M.A. Romanov.” In accord with the decision of 9 October 1918 of the Cheka of the Perm Region, on the charge of organizing the [imaginary] escape attempt, those 37 innocent people were shot, including: Peter Ludvigovich Znamerovski, Vera Mikhailovna Znamerovskaya, Seraphima Semeonovna Lebedeva [a woman], Peter Yakovlevich Borunov, Basil Feodorovich Chelyshev, Sergei Nicholaevich Smirnov, and Mr. Maltsev.

On 19 May 1918 by the decision of the Ural Soviet, the following persons, as members of the Russian imperial house, were exiled from Ekaterinburg to the city of Alapaevsk in the Verkhoturski Uyesd [District] of the Perm Gubernia [Region]: Grand Duke Sergei Michailovich Romanov, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna Romanova [sister to the empress and founder and head of the Martha & Mary Sisterhood-Convent in Moscow], Duke Ivan Constantinovich Romanov, Duchess Elena Petrovna Romanova (the wife of Ivan Constantinovich Romanov), Duke Constantine Constantinovich Romanov, Duke Igor Constantinovich Romanov, Count Vladimir Pavlovich Palei, sisters of the Martha & Mary Convent: Sister Barbara Yakovleva and Sister Ekaterina Petrovna Yanysheva, Feodor Mikhailovich Remez, Ts. Krukovski, Ivan Kalin, and Doctor Gelmerson.

On the night of 17–18 July 1918, without trial or official passing of a sentence by the governing authorities of the city of Alapaevsk, the following persons were executed (thrown down a mine shaft near Alapaevsk [and live grenades thrown in after them]):[the royal monastic] Elizabeth Feodorovna Romanova, Igor Constantinovich Romanov, Constantine Constantinovich Romanov, Ivan Constantinovich Romanov, Sergei Mikhailovich Romanov, Vladimir Pavlovich Palei, [Ryassaphore Nun] Barbara Yakovleva and Feodor Mikhailovich Remez. There was not established by inquiry any criminal or civil law-breaking by the above-listed people which could serve as grounds for exile or execution.

On 30 January 1919 in the Ss. Peter and Paul Fortress in Petrograd (Saint Petersburg), by the decision of the Petrograd Emergency Commission [Cheka], like hostages were shot: Grand Duke Pavel Alexandrovich Romanov, Nicholas Mikhailovich Romanov, Georgi Mikhailovich Romanov, and Dmitri Constantinovich Romanov. No accusations of unlawful activity by the above-named persons were brought forth.

In the late 1920’s in the Yaroslav Oblast [Region], E.S. Kobylinski, the former head of the guard of the royal family during their exile in Tobolsk, and L. Sednev, who in childhood was a cook’s helper in the Ipatiev House, were executed for “counter-revolutionary activity”.

I request that you consider this petition and take measures for the restoration of historical justice and the lawful, legal succession of the Russian government by rehabilitating the following persons:

A) Innocent, murdered Russian citizens8:

1. Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov—Emperor
2. Alexandra Feodorovna Romanova—Empress
3. Alexei Nicholaevich Romanov—tsarevich [crown prince],
4. Olga Nicholaevna Romanov—Grand Duchess
5. Tatiana Nicholaevna Romanova—Grand Duchess
6. Maria Nicholaevna Romanova—Grand Duchess
7. Anastasia Nicholaevna Romanova—Grand Duchess
8. Georgi Mikhailovich Romanov--Grand Duke
9. Dmitri Constantinovich Romanov—Grand Duke
10. Elizabeth Feodorovna Romanova—Grand Duchess
11. Mikhail Alexandrovich Romanov—Grand Duke
12. Nicholas Mikhailovich Romanov—Grand Duke
13. Pavel Alexandrovich Romanov—Grand Duke
14. Sergei Mikhailovich Romanov—Grand Duke
15. Igor Constantinovich Romanov—Duke
16. Ivan Constantinovich Romanov—Duke
17. Constantine Constantinovich Romanov—Duke
18. Peter Yakovlevich Borunov
19. Dr. Eugene Sergeevich Botkin—Physician-in-ordinary [physician to the royal family],
20. Anastasia Vasilievna Gendrikova—maid of honor
21. Anna Stepanovna Demidova—maid
22. N.N. Johnson—personal secretary of Michael A. Romanov
23. Vasili Alexandrovich Dolgorukov-—Marshal of the (Imperial) Court
24. Peter Ludvigovich Znamerovski
25. Vera Mikhailovna Znamerovskaya
26. Seraphima Semeonovna Lebedeva
27. Ivan Kalin
28. E.S. Kobylinsky—head of the guard for the royal family
Mr. Maltsev

30. Klementi Grigorievich Nagorny—servant
31. Vladimir Pavlovich Palei—Count
32. Feodor Mikhailovich Remez
33. Ivan Dmitrievich Sedne—-man-servant for the children
34. Leonid I Sednev—in childhood, a cook’s helper in the Ipatiev house.
35. Sergei Nicholaevich Smirnov
36. Ilia Leonidovich Tatischev—ADC general [General aide-de-camp]
37. Alexei Yegorovich Troop—man-servant
38. Ivan Mikhailovich Charitonov—cook
39. Vasili Feodorovich Chelyshev
40.Ekaterina Adolphovna Shneider–instructress of the royal children
Sister Barbara Yakovleva—sister at the Martha & Mary Sisterhood-Convent

B) Innocent Russian citizens who were in voluntary exile with the family of the Russian Emperor Nicholas II in Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg after 7 November (25 October) 1917 and [for this loyalty] suffered from the tyranny of the government:

1. Elena Petrovna Romanova—princess
2. Sophia Carlovna Buxgevden--personal lady-in-waiting to the Empress
3. Ivan Vereschagi—cook
4. Alexei Andreevich Volkov—valet
5. Dr. Gelmerson—physician
6. Sidney Ivanovich Gibbs—English-language teacher and citizen of Great Britain
7. Ermolai Gusev—man-servant
8. Dr. Vladimir Nicholaevich Derevenko—medical doctor
9. Alexei Nicholaevich Dmitriev—hairdresser-barber
10. Mr. Dormidontov—servant
11. Ekaterina Zhivaya—maidservant of [instructress] E.A.Schneider
12. Peter Andreevich Zhiliar—instructor of the crown prince [tsarevich] and citizen of Switzerland
13. Franz Zhuravsky—waiter
14. Magdalena Franzievna Zanotti—“kamer-kapfera”
15. Sergei Ivanovich Ivanov—servant
16. Ivan Kalin
17. Mikhail Karpov—attendant
18. Mr. Kiselev—servant
19. Alexander Kirpichnikov—clerk
20. Mr. Kokichev—cook
21. Mr. Ts. Krukovsky
22. Stepan Makarov—helper of T.I. Chemodurov
23. Maria (last name unknown)—maidservant of E.A. Shneider
24. Paulina Kasperovna Mezhants—maidservant of A.V.Gendrikova
25. Sergei Mikhailov—kitchen servant
26. Victorina Vladimirovna Nicholaeva—governess for A.V. Gendrikova
27. Franz Pyurkovsky—kitchen helper
28. Mr. Rozhkov—in charge of food cellar
29. Anna Pavlovna Romanova—servant girl
30. Mr. Smirnov—assistant
31. Mr. Stupel—cloak-room attendant
32. Alexandra Alexandrovna Tegleva—children’s governess
33. Mr. Terekhov—kitchen-helper
34. Maria Gusmavovna Tumelberg—“kamer-yugofera” [probably an assistant to the empress]
35. Mr. Tyutin—servant
36. Anna Yakovlevna Utkina—maidservant
37. Terenti Ivanovich Chemodurov—valet
38. Elizaveta Nicholaevna Ersberg—assistant to A. Shneider
39. Sister Ekaterina Petrovna Yanysheva—sister of Martha-Mary Sisterhood-Convent

[end of quote (in italics) from Petition to A.N. Yakovlev]

A short time later [after the petition was sent in November 2002], an official of the Commission for Rehabilitation telephoned me and said that they had an official petition from members of the Russian imperial house requesting the rehabilitation of Nicholas II and his family, and that the Commission suggested first attending to their request. To that I replied that, since the members of the imperial house are interceding only for the rehabilitation of their ownrelatives, I continue to persist in requesting the rehabilitation of all those who suffered in this matter, regardless of their social class. For eight years they did not set my petition in motion; as for the petition of the royal house, as is known, the High Public Prosecutor and judges brought out a negative verdict,9 although there were all legal grounds for rehabilitation.

The High General Prosecutor and the subsequent decisions declining rehabilitation per the official written request of Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, cited a lack of documental evidence of an official sentencing or decree by the Soviet authorities on the executions. But, as is known, in Soviet Russia “revolutionary law” was instituted, by which the soviets [councils] held all the forms of power: legislative, executive, and judiciary. It is understandable that in the heat of revolution and civil war, many documents disappeared which contained evidence about this case; but even the remaining ones are sufficient as grounds for rehabilitation. Here are several of the surviving documents:

Telegram of G.E. Zinoviev to the chairman of the sovnarkom V.I. Lenin and Y. M. Sverdlov regarding the receipt of a communiquй from Ekaterinburg about the fate of the royal family:

16 July 1918

From Ekaterinburg they pass on the following by direct telegraph: “Inform Moscow that the verdict agreed upon with PhilippovВ, due to war-time circumstances, does not permit postponement; we cannot wait. If your opinion is the opposite, immediately, without delay, inform us.”

It is known that the Bolshevist leaders had prepared a verdict against the former Emperor. Furthermore, from this telegram (this is a part of the telegram, which in whole did not survive) it is evident that regarding the matter of execution, the leaders in Moscow passed the decision on to the communists in the Urals [who were openly in favor of execution]—to act in accordance with circumstances as they arose. This was a very tense time for the Soviet power. On 6 July began a revolt of the leftist Social Revolutionaries. The German ambassador was executed; relations with Germany were extremely tense. The Russian empress and the royal children, according to German law, retained their German citizenship. The murder of the relatives of the German Kaiser might call forth an responding action by Germany—which at that time was very powerful. On the other hand, the opinion of the Moscow leaders was not in opposition to the known revolutionary zeal of the Ural communists, who were hungering for execution. Thus, as could be expected, the Ural soviet freely took upon itself the final decision about the shooting. Nevertheless, the report to Moscow after the shooting shows that the Ural leaders were afraid that Moscow would not approve their willfulness; thus they didn’t have the courage to inform Moscow immediately that not only the Emperor but also the whole family was executed. They were so apprehensive that they confused the dates: the execution was carried out on the night of the 17th, not the 16th of July.

Telegram of the Ural Soviet to V. I. Lenin, chairman of the Sovnarkom, and Y. M. Sverdlov about the execution of former Tsar Nicholas II:

17 July 1918

Due to the approach of the enemy to Ekaterinburg and the discovery by the Emergency Commission [Cheka] of a large White-Guard conspiracy having the goal of abducting the former tsar and his family10. The documents are in our hands. In accordance with the decree of the Presidium of the Ural-region Soviet, on the night of 16 July Nicholas Romanov was executed. His family was evacuated to a safe place. Regarding this, we are issuing the following notice: “In view of the approach of a counter-revolutionary band to the Red capital of the Urals and the possibility that the crowned killer might escape the People’s Court (a White-Guard plot was discovered to abduct his family and him himself; and compromising documents have been found, which will be published). The Presidium of the Ural-region Soviet, fulfilling the will of the Revolution, resolved: to execute former tsar Nicholas Romanov, guilty of uncountable bloody acts of violence against the Russian people. On the night of 16 July 1918, this sentence was carried out. The Romanov family is being held together with him under guard; in the interests of public security, the family has been evacuated from Ekaterinburg. — Presidium of the Regional Soviet.”

We request your sanction regarding the wording of the above. The documents of the plot are being rushed to you by courier to Sovnarkom, TsIK. We are awaiting notification [from you] here at the telegraph machine.

Of course, the “White-Guard plot to free the emperor” was concocted by the Cheka. This does not exclude the possibility that they might have, by torture, forced the needed “confession” out of someone. The subsequent civil war showed that not one of the armed forces fighting against the Bolsheviks proclaimed a monarchial position. The White armies did not fight for restoration of the monarchy: all were republicans of various shades [i.e., for the establishment of a republic], or even socialists, as for example the anti-bolshevist authorities in Murmansk and in the Far East.

Soon, however, the Ural communists reported to Moscow that the entire royal family “suffered the same fate.

In the following text, the Bolshevik leaders approved the already-accomplished fact:

From the proceedings of the 1st session of the Presidium VTsIK on the execution of former tsar Nicholas II:

18 July 1918

Reported: Communication of the execution of Nicholas Romanov (Telegram from Ekaterinburg).

Resolved: After discussion, the following resolution is passed:

VTsIK in the person of its Presidium recognizes the decision of the Ural Regional Soviet as correct.

Entrust to citizens Sverdlov, Sosnovski and Avanevov the task of composing a corresponding notice for the press.

In the official publication of the Bolshevik party, the fact of the execution was made public.

From the leading article “Nicholas Romanov” of the newspaper “Pravda:”

19 July 1918

We need a tsar!” proclaimed recently the verbose Rodzianko. But when that inveterate serf-owner’s Czechoslovakian friends, already having freed Michael Romanov, began to stealthily approach the former crown-bearer in order to steal him from under the vigilant guard of the Ekaterinburg proletariat, and having dyed with workers’ blood that shabby crown, again plant it on that empty head, gunshots cut short the life of Nicholas Romanov. He is no more; and no matter how the holy abbots pray for his health, he shall not resurrect. (….)

Amongst Russian workers and peasants arises only one wish: to drive a well-sharpened wooden stake into that grave, damned by the people.

Thus, even in the surviving documents it is obvious that the High Public Prosecutor has no foundation for denying rehabilitation. The opinion is widespread that the denial of rehabilitation was motivated by fear of setting a precedent for restitution, i.e., for restoring the property rights of the Romanovs; that restitution is supposedly fraught with enormous property claims [by the Romanovs] against the Russian government. Although Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna declared that the Romanov house has no pretense to property, this shows the goodwill of only three of the Romanov desc­endants comprising the Romanov house. Any of the multitude of Romanov descendants could, in theory, demand the fulfillment of those accepted laws of rehabilitation which make provision for material compensation to the heirs of those rehabilitated. Is there a legal basis for this?

An affirmative answer to this question is supported by, among other things, the following facts: The property of the imperial family was nationalized by a special Decree of the Sovnarkom from 13 July 1918, “On the nationalization of the belongings of the overthrown emperor and the members of his family” (published in “Proceedings of the VTsIK and Moscow Soviet of Workers and Red-Army Deputies” 19 July 1918). Subject to nationalization were “all the belongings and property belonging to the Russian emperor who was overthrown by the Revolution, Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov, the former empresses Alexandra, and Maria Feodorovna Romanov [the dowager empress], and all the members of the former Russian imperial house, no matter what this might include and no matter where it might be located.” (The passing of this decree three days before the execution of the imperial family indirectly corroborates the view that the decision about the execution was made by the central Soviet authorities.) Moreover, the personal belongings of the members of the imperial family were not specified, which makes nationalization here equal to confiscation. Therefore it is possible to look at the property-seizing, arrest, exile from place to place, and execution of the royal family as a single, united act of repression.

Is there cause to be apprehensive about restitution? Is it useful or harmful? In considering compensation (including the return of confiscated property) to the heirs of repressed persons who were caused material harm, it is of particular importance to take into account how long ago confiscation occurred, and also to take into account the rights of the third parties now possessing the property or belongings. Thus it is appropriate here not to carry out restitution in full measure, but to substitute it with symbolic compensation. The possibility of such compensation was provided for in the law about rehabilitation which was passed in October 1991.

Furthermore, even symbolic (and it could be, indeed, only symbolic) compensation of confiscated property to the relatives of the royal family would have significant legal and political effects, plus an international resonance.

A future decision of the Presidium of the Supreme Court granting rehabilitation to the Romanovs would be considered partial, calling for the subsequent rehabilitation of all those people murdered and repressed in the “tsar” affair. Such a decision would facilitate the restoration of historical justice and lawfulness, and also affirm the legal continuity and lawful succession of the present Russian government [as legal successor or ‘heir’ of governmental authority in Russia] and increase the stability of society and the status of Russia in the world community.

Victor Aksyuchits


1 [Note: all footnotes have been added by the English translator. The two endnotes (marked by superscripted capital letters) are part of the original article. Everything in [square brackets] has also been added by the translator. Everything in (rounded parentheses) is part of the original.
rehabilitation: to rehabilitate: pertinent dictionary meanings: 2. to reinstate the good name of. 3. to restore the former rank, privileges, or rights of. In this period of Russian history, to rehabilitate means to legally declare that the person was innocent and had suffered unjustly, and now has a clean legal record; all rights are restored. In Soviet times, this meant that the rehabilitated person was legally washed clean, as if nothing had happened; and both he and his family were restored to full rights. For example, his children would not be denied the better kinds of work or the possibility of going to college because their father was (or had been, if already dead) politically unreliable, an enemy of the people or former criminal.
2 repressed: to be repressed: to suffer political, class, or religious persecution; in Soviet Russia, this might include loss of rights (including the right to choose where to live, type of work; sometimes even loss of right to work, earn money or receive food rationing), loss of property, exile, execution and/or years of suffering in a concentration camp. The family of the repressed person would also suffer various deprivations.
3 restitution: 1. the act of restoring to the rightful owner something that has been taken away, lost, or surr­endered. 2. the act of making good or compensating for loss, damage, or injury; indemnification; reparation.
4 foreign experts: Expert scientific opinion was divided as to whether the remains were those of the royal family.
5 internment: It should be noted that the Russian Orthodox Church did not recognize these remains (or the ones found by Gelli Ryabov) as belonging to the royal family; and the Church did not participate in the intern­ment; the internment was purely governmental. This whole question is a painful one for people in the Church.
6 [shown live on several television stations]: The ceremony, although secular, was very moving. The TV comment­ators spoke in hushed tones; a nation-wide minute of silence was observed; the remains were interred in the same cathedral with Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and all the other emperors since the 18th century. A well-respected historian spoke of how Nicholas II had passed two great tests: the test of having great power, which he passed with integrity and meekness; and the test of enduring great humiliation, which he passed with Christian forgiveness and (again) meekness.
7 Emergency Commission [Cheka]: The words Emergency and Commission (in Russian Chrezvychainaya Komissiya) begin with the letters che and ka; hence the acronym Cheka (stress on the ka).
Cheka: the feared Soviet state security service (secret police) organized by Lenin; later reorganized and renamed successively as GPU, OGPU, NKVD, MVD, and KGB.
8 Innocent, murdered Russian citizens: The first 7 peoplethe immediate familyhave since been rehabilitated.
9 negative verdict: As noted previously, on 1 October 2008, a positive verdict for the immediate family was brought out.
10 In the original telegram (in Russian), there is no verb in this sentence. There are half a dozen minor grammatical errors in the original, which were corrected (in parentheses) in the original Russian version of this article.
А First name and patronymic (middle name) are not given when they could not be ascertained.
В Philippov: This refers to V.I. Goloschekin, whose Communist-Party alias or (code-name) was Philipp.

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