Exhibition dedicated to Nicholas Sokolov opens in the Urals

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On 8th June 2019, the Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye opened the exhibition Penza – Paris. The Way of the Tsar’s Investigator N.A. Sokolov, in the Museum and Exhibition Center in Ganina Yama.

The exhibition, is timed to the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the work of the investigator Nikolai Alekseevich Sokolov (1882-1924)  in Ekaterinburg and at the Four Brothers mine in 1919.

Metropolitan Kirill reminded guests that the name of N.A. Sokolov is inextricably linked with the Imperial family, since Sokolov was a monarchist, he loved Russia and would not accept the changes brought about by the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. 

“Nikolai Alekseevich crossed the front line to reach the troops commanded by General Vasilyevich Kolchak (1874-1920), who was recognised as the “Supreme Leader and Commander-in-Chief of All Russian Land and Sea Forces” by the other leaders of the White movement from 1918 to 1920. Sokolov became one of the closest assistants to the Supreme Commander, who entrusted him with the investigation into the case of the regicide. This year also marks 95 years since the death of investigator Sokolov, a man who made an enormous contribution in gathering evidence about the last days of the Imperial Family in Ekaterinburg,” noted Kirill.

The ruling bishop said that it was NA Sokolov who was the first to follow the path of the cross from the Ipatiev House to Ganina Yama, and it was he who conducted most of the research at the site of the murder and burial of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers.

“We value his sincere work no less than the work of those who remained faithful to the Tsar, his family and and their faithful retainers – Dr. Botkin, cook Kharitonov, maid Demidova and the tsar’s valet Troupe, and all those who wanted to remain with them, but who were separated from the Imperial Family, at Tsarskoye Selo, Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg,” he added.

In conclusion, Metropolitan Kirill thanked the staff of the museum who preserve the memory of the Imperial family.

Visitors to the exhibit can see unique archival materials that give an idea of ​​the difficult task of the investigator. Also presented are rare family photos of N. Sokolov, which are kept by his descendants in France and in Russia. Many of them are displayed for the first time.

The exhibition will be open to visitors until the end of 2019, admission is free.

Click HERE to read Memorial Plaque to Nikolai Sokolov Unveiled in Mokshan, published on Royal Russia News 27th December 2018;

and HERE to read Nikolai Sokolov: The man who revealed the story of the Romanov killings by Alla Astanina, published on 18 April 2015 on Russia Beyond the Headlines.

© Paul Gilbert. 20 June 2019

Zhanna Bichevskaya marks her 75th birthday

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Cover of Zhanna Bichevskaya;s CD Царь Николай (Tsar Nikolai)

A very happy 75th birthday to Russian folk singer Zhanna Vladimirovna Bichevskaya, who was born in Moscow on 17th June 1944.

Известной певице Жанне Владимiровне Бичевской исполнилось 75 лет!!! Мы сердечно поздравляем её с Днём рождения!!!

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Zhanna graduated as a classical guitarist from a Moscow music school. She was a teacher of music in Zagorsk (Sergiev Posad). In the 1970s, Zhanna started to perform Russian folk songs and romances.

Zhanna refers to her bard-style singing as “Russian country-folk”. Her repertoire includes several hundred works – songs of spiritual and social content, Russian folk songs, romances, as well as songs based on poems of Russian poets of the Silver Age. Her records have sold millions of copies in more than 40 countries around the world. She has performed to sell out crowds at the prestigious Olympia Hall in Paris, on eight occasions. 

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Zhanna Bichevskaya’s songs began to have more political, nationalist and spiritual themes, she is a staunch defender of the Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

In 1999, Zhanna also became the host of her own show on Voice of Russia radio station. She was awarded People’s Artist of the RSFSR

CLICK on the links below to listen to two of her most haunting melodies:

[1] Царь Николай / Tsar Nikolai [Duration: 9 mins], which features vintage film footage of Russia’s last tsar:

[2] Святым Царственным мученикам / To the Holy Royal Martyrs [Duration: 7 mins., 34 sec.], which is much more a prayer than a song:

Click HERE to visit Zhanna Bichevskaya’s Official Website (in Russian / по-русски)

© Paul Gilbert. 17 June 2019

Ekaterinburg prepares for Tsar’s Days – 2019

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Icon of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearer Nicholas II in front of the steps of the Church on the Blood

Every year tens of thousands of people gather in Ekaterinburg to take part in the Tsar’s Days. The main events are the Divine Liturgy, which takes place on the night of 16/17 July at the Church on the Blood, where the lives of the Imperial Family and and their faithful retainers tragically ended, and the Cross Procession to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers in Ganina Yama, where the august remains were destroyed 101 years ago.

*NOTE: due to the fact the Moscow Patriachate does not yet recognize the Ekaterinburg remains as authentic, the Cross Procession does not stop at Porosenkov Log, where the remains of the Imperial family were unearthed in two separate graves in the late 1970s and 2007 – PG

This year’s mass celebrations in the Ural capital will begin on 12th July, the day marking the opening of the XVII Festival of Orthodox Culture “Tsar’s Days.”

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Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Kirill

XVII Festival of Orthodox Culture “Tsar’s Days”

From 12th  July to 21st July, Ekaterinburg will host the key event of the Tsarist Year – the XVII Festival of Orthodox Culture “Tsar’s Days”. In the Ural capital, dozens of religious and secular events of various formats will be held , dedicated to the “Tsarist” theme – from music festivals to creative meetings and lectures.

A cultural program is planned, which includes cultural, historical, musical and educational events, museum and library exhibitions, concerts and meetings with historians, writers, directors from across Russia and abroad.

The Church on the Blood, the Tsarsky Spiritual and Educational Center (located in the Patriarchal Compound), and the Russia – My Story Museum, will become the central venues for the festival.

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Pilgrims gather at the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg on the night of 16/17 July

Festival of the bell ringing “Bless the land of the Ural!”

From 14th July to 18th July, the annual festival of the bell ringing “Preach to the Land of the Urals!”, organized as part of the All-Russian Festival of Orthodox Culture “Tsar’s Days”, will also take place.

Ringers from across Russia: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Veliky Novgorod, Rostov Veliky, Vologda, Tyumen, as well as the best bell-ringers of the Ekaterinburg Metropolis will take part in the festival.

A concert of bells at the bell tower of the Bolshoi Zlatoust (Great Zlatoust) Church, with the participation of the military brass band and the choir of the Bolshoi Zlatoust (Great Zlatoust) Church, which will be held on 15th July 15, Priest Victor Yavich will recite his poems.

After that,  participants and spectators of the festival will enjoy master classes with the participation of the most experienced bell-ringers of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The bell ringing concert will begin at 6:00 pm at the Bolshoi Zlatoust (Great Zlatoust) Church, located on Malysheva Street.

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Pilgrims take part in the Cross Procession from Ekaterinburg to Ganina Yama

The main events of Tsar’s Days

The main events of the Tsar’s Days will begin on 15th July with the consecration of the Church of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers in Ganina Yama.

Then come the culminating events, which will be held on 16th and 17th July. 

On 16th July, at 09:00, the Divine Liturgy will begin in the Chapel of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers in the Church on the Blood. At 1:00 pm, a day procession along the Ekaterinburg Path of Grief will be held to mark the arrival of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers in Ekaterinburg (transported to the Ipatiev House) – from Shartash station (149 Kuybyshev St.) to the Church Church on Blood.

Then, at 15:00, a small vespers with an akathist to the Holy Royal Passion-bearers will take place in the lower church of the Church on the Blood.

At 16:30, an all-night vigil will begin at the site in front of the Church on the Blood.

At 23:30, the main service of the Tsar’s Days will begin – the evening Divine Liturgy at the site of the Church on the Blood. The service will end in the early morning hours of 17th July, after which at 02:30 a 21-km Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood — the place where the Imperial family were murdered — to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers — the site of where their remains were destroyed by their Bolshevik murderers at the Ganina Yam tract in 1918. The procession gathers tens of thousands of pilgrims from around the world. In previous years, the procession has attracted any where from 60,000 to 100,000 (in 2018) people. Upon the arrival of the procession at Ganina Yama, a liturgy will be held for the Holy Royal Passion-bearers.

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Victims of the Alapaevsk Massacre

Tsar’s days in Alapayevsk

The Tsar’s Days will continue with the celebration of the Days of Remembrance of the Great Martyr Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna and the Alapayevsk martyrs, which will be held in Alapayevsk, situated 150 km north of Ekaterinburg.

On 18th July, at 00:00, a Divine Liturgy will be celebrated in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Alapayevsk, and at 02:30 a liturgy will be held with the akathist singing to the holy martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth and the Nun Varvara.

At 03:30, at the end of the liturgy, a procession will begin from the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Alapayevsk to the school (where Grand Duchess Elizabeth and other members of the Romanovs were held captive) and then to the monastery in the name of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, which was founded on the place where they were thrown alive into the mine by their captives on the night of 18th July 1918. Two Divine Liturgies will be celebrated her, at 05:30 and 09:00.  

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“Tsar’s Days Hot line”

On 1st July, the “Tsar Days Hotline” will open. Pilgrims can call and ask for information on the main events that will be celebrated in Ekaterinburg from 16th to 18th July 2019, including: the divine liturgy services scheduled; the date and start time of the religious processions in Ekaterinburg, as well as the procession of the cross in Alapayevsk; how pilgrims can return to Ekaterinburg from the Monastery of the Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama after the procession on 17th July, and from Alapaevsk on 18th July, and any other questions.

In addition, by calling the hotline, pilgrims can obtain information about excursions to church museums and exhibition centers in Ekaterinburg, Alapaevsk and Verkhoturye, as well as book a reception for organized groups and single pilgrims on the Ekaterinburg Tsar Route.

Phones of the “hotline” of Tsar’s days – 2019:

+7 (343) 268-99-29, +7 (950) 64-69-019.

Hotline opening hours: daily from 10:00 to 19:00 local time (from 8:00 to 17:00 Moscow time).

Click HERE for more information about Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg 2019

© Ekaterinburg Diocese / Paul Gilbert. 16 June 2019

Reconstruction of Nicholas II’s bathroom in the Alexander Palace

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PHOTO: Stavros and Artcorpus Interiors firms in St. Petersburg

My latest report on the reconstruction of the private apartments of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna in the Alexander Palace, and the recreation of their historic interiors, provides an update on the Tsar’s Bathroom – PG

The reconstruction and restoration of Nicholas II’s Bathroom, situated in the eastern wing of the Alexander Palace is nearing completion. The main feature is a giant heated swimming tub – where the Tsar, and Tsesarevich Alexei liked to swim. “This was all lost, but now the restorers, have completely recreated the interior, based on pieces of ceramics from the walls, and photos from the palace-museum archives,” said Director of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Olga Taratynova.

Once completed, Nicholas II’s Moorish-style Bathroom will be one of a series of rooms showcasing the private apartments of the last emperor and empress of Russia. Work is being carried out by the Stavros and Artcorpus Interiors firms in St. Petersburg.

According to Bob Atchison’s Alexander Palace Time Machine, “the Tsar’s Bathroom had a giant heated swimming tub on a platform which also led, via a glass and wood door, to his toilet, which was a dark room hung with an assortment of pictures including a humorous cartoon of Nicholas driving a car.

“The bathroom was designed in the Moorish style by Robert-Friedrich Meltzer (1860-1943). The millwork of the room was intricately fabricated in fragrant woods. The ceiling was particularly complex. Meltzer added many interesting touches to the room including hanging glass lanterns in the shape of old mosque oil lamps. For practical reasons they were wired for electricity. He also installed magnificent antique Turkish tiles around the top of the bath. In the arcade of the tub-platform he designed elaborate patterns in Arab style.

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Nicholas II posting in front of the his elevated swimming tub in the Alexander Palace

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“It was great fun for the Tsar’s children, when they received permission from their father, to use his bath. A thick cord prevented falling into the bath by accident. The swimming bath was huge, it held 500 pails of water [1000 according to the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve-PG] and had its’ own powerful special hydraulics to rapidly pump hot water from the basement boiler up into the tub. Nicholas ordered the bath to be constructed in the palace in 1896 after seeing a similar bath on one of his estates. He used it almost every day. A special servant was assigned to maintain the equipment below and a second servant was assigned to keep the bath spotless after every use.

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“Outside the tub platform, Nicholas installed a chinning bar (seen in above photo), seen in a photograph, taken in 1917. The Tsar was passionate about exercise and also had a similar chinning bar in his train. He also had weights in his bathroom for working out. 

“On the back wall, by the left hand side of the door leading to the Tsar’s Working Study, was a collection of ions and hanging Easter eggs. To the right was draped an embroidered cloth with a double-headed eagle, probably the work of Alexandra or one of the girls. [The embroidered cloth with a double-headed eagle, can also be seen in the 1917 posted above-PG]

“Nicholas kept a large collection of Fabergé cigarette cases on the table in front of the window. He put up a display of gifts and small objects from his children in the bathroom. These included porcelain penguins and dancing girls. A floral watercolor painted by his daughter, Marie, and dated May 1917, hung on the door from the bathroom to the Working Study.”

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Reconstruction of the Tsar’s Bath or swimming tub

The Alexander Palace, has been closed for restoration since August 2015. The palace was scheduled to reopen in July 2018,  however, numerous delays have pushed now back the reopening date to the end of 2019. 

“We really want to make everyone happy for the new year. But in any case, the recovery process is underway and has already progressed significantly. So if not at the end of December 2019, then in the first quarter of 2020, the Alexander Palace will open its doors,” says the Director of the Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum.

For more information on the reconstruction and restoration of the Alexander Palace, please refer to the following articles:

Recreation of Furniture for Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir Underway

Furniture for interiors of the Alexander Palace to be recreated

© Paul Gilbert. 16 June 2019