“Nothing prevents the ROC from recognizing the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg Remains” – Metropolitan Hilarion

The Russian Orthodox Church has no doubts about the authenticity of the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, found near Ekaterinburg. Nothing prevents the recognition of their authenticity, Metropolitan Hilarion emphasized during an interview held today, on the program Church and World on the Russia 24 TV channel.

The head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church added: “In my opinion, nothing today prevents the recognition of the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg Remains, but in order for them to be recognized as authentic, a conciliar decision of the Church is needed.”

This decision must be made by the highest leadership of the Church, and the highest leadership is the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, he explained. Metropolitan Hilarion emphasized that following the report of the Investigative Committee in June 2021 at a meeting of the Holy Synod, none of the bishops should have had any further doubts about the authenticity of the remains after the examinations.

The Bishops’ Council was scheduled to meet in Moscow 15th to 18th November 2021, however, this was postponed due to the COVID-19 situation in Russia. The Bishops’ Council will now convene from 26th to 29th May 2022.

“If the arguments in favour of the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg Remains prevail, then a final decision will be made,” Metropolitan Hilarion noted. He explained why a decision by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church is important in this case. “If the Synod recognize the Ekaterinburg Remains as the remains of the Imperial Family, it means they are holy relics, it means they need to be venerated appropriately”.

Metropolitan Hilarion also said that the Council of Bishops will determine the final resting place of the Imperial family’s remains. It should be noted, that as Holy Relics, they cannot be returned to their tomb in St. Catherine’s Chapel [SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg], as relics cannot be returned to the earth. They must be placed in reliquaries above ground which allows the faithful to venerate them.

In July 2020, the historical and archival examination, which was carried out as part of the investigation into the murder of the Imperial Family, confirmed the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg remains. Associate professor of the Historical Archive Institute of the Russian State Humanitarian University Evgeny Vladimirovich Pchelov, explained, genetics were involved in the identification of the remains. In addition, researchers analyzed over 2,000 historical documents: written sources, photographs, and audio recordings. The documents were collected from more than 15 Russian and foreign archives.

Vladimir Nikolaevich Soloviev, retired senior investigator and forensic expert at the Main Department of Criminalistics (Forensic Center) of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, who from 1991 to 2015 led the investigation into the deaths of the Imperial Family, fully supports the decision of the Russian Church to recognize the Ekaterinburg Remains as authentic, considers it indisputable.

“I fully support this statement. I categorically say that these are the remains of the Imperial Family, geneticists told us with 100% accuracy,” Solovyov told Interfax on Saturday, commenting on the Russian Orthodox Church’s statement that there are no obstacles to recognizing the authenticity of the remains.

© Paul Gilbert. 22 January 2022