The fate of Porosenkov Log and Ganina Yama

CLICK on the image above to watch a 2-minute video tour of the Romanov Memorial at Porosenkov Log

In May, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) will convene in Moscow, to discuss the results of examinations carried out between 2015-2018, by the Investigate Committee of the Russian Federation. It is widely believed that the Council will recognize the authenticity of the remains of the Imperial Family. So, what effect will this have on both Porosenkov Log and Ganina Yama?

Representatives of the Romanov Memorial Charitable Foundation in Ekaterinburg, now fear that the diocese could destroy the original appearance of Porosenkov Log, the spot were the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, his wife, three children and four retainers were discovered in 1991. The remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister Maria were discovered in a nearby separate grave in 2007.

According to Ilya Korovin, Director of the Romanov Memorial Charitable Foundation , Porosenkov Log is the only place in Ekaterinburg connected with the Imperial Family’s final days, which has survived to this day unchanged. “In Ganina Yama, unlike the Porosenkov Log, visitors cannot see the territory as it looked in 1918. Of course, with the recognition of the remains, the question of the future fate of the memorial will arise,” he said during a recent press conference.

As an argument, representatives of the fund cite the fact that in March 2016 the Ekaterinburg Diocese asked for a plot of land at Porosenkov Log, made a request to the Ministry of Culture of the Sverdlovsk Region for the transfer of the territory in and around Porosyonkov Log (added to the cultural heritage list in 2014), transferred to the ROC, to be designated as sacred land and where a memorial and monastery, similar to that at Ganina Yama would be constructed.

The Governor of Sveredlovsk Yevgeny Kuyvashev suspended the process of allocating land for an indefinite period. “Knowing the methods of preserving and developing memorial sites by the Russian Orthodox Church, one can come to the disappointing conclusion that Porosenkov Log will undergo catastrophic changes,” Korovin said. Korovin also noted that the territory of the Railway Forest Park, where the Romanov Memorial is located, is also subject to future development.

Representatives of the Romanov Memorial also added that, previously in 2007-2010 the Russian Orthodox Church planned to seize the territory in the area of ​​the Old Koptyakovskaya Road, partially cut down the forest, in order to build a cemetery and an Orthodox church. Again, the Sverdlovsk authorities were forced to intervene in order to end the conflict.

Sergei Chapnin, a member and expert of the Romanov Memorial Charitable Foundation, believes that Porosenkov Log is a civil memorial and this section of the old Koptyakovskaya Road must be kept intact.

Local Ekaterinburg historian Nikolai Neuimin notes, “if the Bishops Council recognizes that the remains of the Nicholas II and his family are authentic, then it turns out that the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs should not have been built at Ganina Yama, the place where the regicides tried to bury the bodies for the first time. The bones lay there for only a day and a half, while the remains were reburied 3.5 km away in two separate graves in what is today known as Porosenkov Log. As Ganina Yama is the main place of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians, no one will demolish or move the seven churches, even if it turns out that the remains in the Porosenkov Log are indeed genuine,” he added.

Chapnin, among others, believe that the recognition by the ROC of the Ekaterinburg will most certainly create a schism within the church. The ROC will be forced to acknowledge that for more than 100 years, they were wrong. This in itself may be perceived by many as a great embarrassment and humiliation to the church.

“Not every one in the church is ready to recognize the authenticity of the remains. Accepting the new reality will be quite difficult,” he added.

© Paul Gilbert. 14 February 2022