Prominent Orthodox Bishop discusses the Bishops Council and the Ekaterinburg Remains

PHOTO: His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Tikhon

The founder of the Russian online media outlet Daily Storm, Anastasia Kashevarova, recently interviewed Metropolitan of Pskov and Porkhov Tikhon (Shevkunov), who was asked about upcoming Bishops Council in May 2022 and the Ekaterinburg Remains.

Metropolitan Tikhon is a Bishop of the Moscow Patriarchate, and has been closely involved with the investigation into the deaths of Nicholas II and his family, which was initiated by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2015.

Tikhon is now the second prominent Bishop [known to this author] to hint that the Ekaterinburg Remains, are indeed those of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. See my article Metropolitan Hilarion hopeful ROC will recognize authenticity of Ekaterinburg remains, published on 20th June 2021.

AK: At the Bishops’ Council, which has now been postponed to the spring of 2022, will the issue of recognizing the remains of the Imperial Family be resolved?

MT: During the past five years, together with the Investigative Committee, we have collected all the documents and materials. In 2015, there was a new investigation, it was very interesting. We do not prejudge the outcome, of course, of the Council of Bishops, but we have provided them with all the documents that have been worked out by the investigation, the historical commission and our church commission. At the request of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, we carried out genetic research. The remains of Nicholas II’s father, Alexander III were exhumed, genetic samples were taken and compared with the Ekaterinburg Remains. Everything coincided there. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill spoke about this, however, it will be the Council of Bishops who will make the final judgement.

AK: But do you have all the expertise?

MT: We have all the expertise. They quite satisfy me, because I observed them all very closely. However, the controversy continues.

AK: If the Council of Bishops makes a positive decision and recognizes that these are the remains of the Imperial Family, do they then become Holy Relics?

MT: Yes, we will then recognize them as the relics of saints. Some people will agree, some will not – I do not know how it will be, although for me it is quite obvious, I am not even going to be a hypocrite here. We have just published all three volumes of the case, and they are posted on the website of the Investigative Committee; anyone can read these documents in their entirety. Not only were there genetic examinations, there were about fifty different examinations carried out. Anyone can read them with an open mind. I did not trust the investigation that was conducted in the 1990s. There were many reasons for this, including procedural reasons – that is, they took samples from the remains of Nicholas II’s brother Grand Duke George Alexandrovich, compared them with the remains found near Ekaterinburg, but procedurally this was not properly formalized; and aroused mistrust. [Alexander Ivanovich] Bastrykin spoke about this in his report, even before being appointed head of the Investigative Committee.

AK: What has changed since the 1990s investigation?

MT: Yes, there were difficulties. All these bugs have now been fixed; procedurally everything is perfect; research carried out at the highest level. Professor Popov, one of Russia’s leading forensic experts, who, as a specialist, did not recognize these remains, based on these errors. As the heir, Nicholas Alexandrovich was in Japan, where an assassination attempt was carried out on his life: a Japanese policeman struck him on the head with a saber and seriously wounded him. In the1990s, tomography failed to show this injury. Thanks to modern-day tomography, however, Professor Popov, after analyzing this skull [skull No. 4, which, presumably, belonged to Nicholas II], found traces of an injury that coincide with the hat worn by Nicholas II during the incident and is now kept in the Hermitage. The blood-stained shirt of the last Russian tsar was also compared to the blood of his grandfather Alexander II, who was killed in 1881 by terrorists. The latter’s blood-stained shirt has also been preserved. The blood-stained shirts of Alexander II and Nicholas II are also kept in the Hermitage. We have provided every opportunity for every literate person to study the expertise. When we became experts, we signed a document stating that in the event of a knowingly false examination, we are subject to criminal liability with a sentence of up to five years.

AK: And if in the future the answer of the Council is positive, where will the relics be kept?

MT: This will be a joint decision made by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and the Council of Bishops. Possibly in the Peter and Paul Fortress – in the same place where almost all members of the Romanov family are buried.

© Paul Gilbert. 3 November 2021