‘You reap what you sow’ – Monarchists take revenge on the regicide Peter Ermakov

PHOTO: the desecrated grave of the regicide Peter Ermakov in Ivanovo Cemetery in Ekaterinburg

Every year on 17th July – the day marking the anniversary of the murder of Emperor Nicholas II and his family – the grave of the Bolshevik revolutionary Peter Ermakov, has been vandalized by local monarchists, who douse his gravestone with red paint.

This annual protest began shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The red paint symbolizes the blood which this evil man spilled, and his involvement in the regicide.

Pyotr (Peter) Zakharovich Ermakov (1884–1952), was one of several men responsible for the murder of Emperor Nicholas II, his wife, their five children, and their four faithful retainers in the basement of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg.

He was also among the men in the firing squad, and considered to be the most bloodthirsty of the executioners. His Mauser revolver, which he alleges fired the fatal shot which ended the life of the Tsar is preserved today in the Museum of History and Archaeology of the Urals in Ekaterinburg.

According to his own recollections, it was he who also murdered the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the cook Ivan Kharitonov and the doctor Eugene Botkin. He often boasted of his crime, without feeling any sense of remorse: “I shot the Tsarina who was seated only six feet away, I could not miss. My bullet hit her right in the mouth, two seconds later she was dead. Then I shot Dr. Botkin. He threw up his hands and half turned away. The bullet hit him in the neck. He fell backwards. Yurovsky’s shot knocked the Tsesarevich to the floor, where he lay and groaned. The cook Kharitonov was huddled over in the corner. I shot him first in the torso and then in the head. The footman Troupe also fell, I don’t know who shot him … ”

PHOTOS: (above) Ermakov standing on the grave of members of the Imperial Family and their retainers at Porosenkov Log in the 1920s; (below) Ermakov (far right) posing with a group of prominent Ural Bolsheviks on the Tsar’s grave, his Mauser pistol can be seen in the foreground in front of P.M. Bykov, author of The Last Days of Tsardom (1934)

In the 1920s, Yermakov returned to Porosenkov Log where he had his photograph taken standing on the railway ties which concealed the second grave of the Imperial Family. On the reverse of this photo, he wrote: “I am standing on the grave of the Tsar”.

In 1951, at a reception, which gathered all the local Party elite in Sverdlovsk [Ekaterinburg], Peter Ermakov approached Soviet Red Army General Georgy Zhukov (1896-1974) and held out his hand. Frowning in disgust Zhukov looked Ermakov in the eye, and muttered, “I do not shake the hands of the murderers.”

Ermakov died in Sverdlovsk on 22 May 1952 from cancer at the age of 67, he was buried in Ivanovo Cemetery in Ekaterinburg.

In January 2022, the famous Russian sculptor Konstantin Vasilievich Grunberg has proposed replacing monuments of the Bolshevik leaders Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin) and Yakov Sverdlov in Ekaterinburg.

Grunberg also called for debunking the image of the revolutionary “hero” Pyotr Yermakov. “People still bring flowers to his grave. We need to destroy this regicide’s grave!” the sculptor said.

PHOTO: Ermakov’s Mauser revolver, which he alleges fired the fatal shot which ended the life of Russia’s last Tsar is preserved today in the Museum of History and Archaeology of the Urals in Ekaterinburg

Click HERE to read my article Yakov Yurovskys’ ashes remain hidden from vandals in Moscow, originally published on 23rd November 2019

Click HERE to read my article The fate of the regicides who murdered Nicholas II and his family, originally published on 28th October 2020

© Paul Gilbert. 17 January 2023

Beautiful winter views of the Novo-Tikvinsky Convent, Ekaterinburg

PHOTO: the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in the Novo-Tikvinsky Convent
© Ново-Тихвинский женский монастырь

Snow-covered paths, trees covered in hoarfrost, early evening twilight reflect the silent beauty of winter which surrounds the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky, depicted in these beautiful photos.

The Novo-Tikhvin Monastery is a community of female monastics. It was founded in the late 18th century, growing out of an alms-house at the cemetery church in Ekaterinburg. It is the home of the icon of the Tikhvin Mother of God. Closed in 1920 by the Bolsheviks, monastic life at the monastery was restored in 1994.

In 1918, when Nicholas II and his family were being held under arrest in the Ipatiev House, the nuns of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent were praying for them, asking God to relieve their sufferings,and to give them the strength to bear everything with Christian humility.

The sisters’ help came not only through prayer but also through deeds: disregarding their own safety, they supported the Tsar and his family by bringing various foods to them through the guards. On 18th June 1918, a month before their murder, Empress Alexandra Feodorvna made the following entry in her diary: “The kind nuns are now sending milk and eggs for Alexei and for us, as well as cream.”

I have spent many hours praying in the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky, during my visits to the Ural city in 2012, 2016 and 2018 respectively. It was during my visit to Ekaterinburg in the summer of 2016, that my hotel was situated behind the convent, and I had a clear view of the cathedral from my window. I went every morning to the cathedral to pray, and every afternoon in the beautifully landscaped gardens which surround the Cathedral.

Click HERE to read why Ekaterinburg is my favourite Russian city.

PHOTO: the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in the Novo-Tikvinsky Convent
© Ново-Тихвинский женский монастырь

PHOTO: the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in the Novo-Tikvinsky Convent
© Ново-Тихвинский женский монастырь

PHOTO: the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in the Novo-Tikvinsky Convent
© Ново-Тихвинский женский монастырь

PHOTO: the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in the Novo-Tikvinsky Convent
© Ново-Тихвинский женский монастырь

PHOTO: the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in the Novo-Tikvinsky Convent
© Ново-Тихвинский женский монастырь

PHOTO: I simply could not resist sharing this photo . . . A mother takes a photo of her little one [who looks like a little angel] sitting on a bench in the garden of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent in Ekaterinburg. The magnificent Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky can be seen in the background. The snow simply enhances the beauty of this photo. © Ново-Тихвинский женский монастырь

PHOTO: the Nativity set against the backdrop of the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky at the Novo-Tikvinsky Convent, Ekaterinburg. © Ново-Тихвинский женский монастырь

PHOTO: A lovely winters night view of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral at the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent in Ekaterinburg. On the left, you can see the new monument to four faithful servants of Emperor Nicholas II, which was installed and consecrated this past summer, on the grounds of the Convent. © Ново-Тихвинский женский монастырь

© Paul Gilbert. 9 January 2023

The fate of Anna Kuzminykh, a servant in the Ipatiev House

PHOTO: Anna (right) with her mother and son Ivan in 1916

NOTE: the publication of this article has been met with both great interest and some skepticism. As Anna “Anyuta” Vasilievna Kuzminykh (1890-1954), did not leave any paper trail, which documented her brief period in the Ipatiev House, there is much to her story which allows for speculation, therefore, her story – as told through her niece and historian many years later, should be taken with a cautionary view – PG

Thanks to the research of a Russian historian, we now have a better understanding of the fate of Anna Vasilievna Kuzminykh (1890-1954), one of the lesser known servants in the Ipatiev House, during the summer of 1918.

According to the Kambarka (Udmurt Republic in Russia) historian and archivist Razif Mirzayanov, shortly before the murder of the Imperial Family in Ekaterinburg, the Tsar ordered Anna Kuzminykh, to leave the Ipatiev House, and thereby saved her life.

“I learned about the fate of Anna Kuzminykh in 1999, from her niece Zoya Grigoryevna Zhizhina” – says Mirzayanov. Anna herself was no longer alive by that time – she had died in 1954. The historian added, that Anna had not told anyone about her brief period as a servant in the Ipatiev House, during the summer of 1918, except for her niece Zoya Grigoryevna.

Anna was born on 9th February 1890, in the village of Kambarsky Zavod (now Kambarka), into the family of a local tailor Vasily Michkov. She married Yegor Kuzminykh, when the First World War broke out, who was ordered to the Front in 1914. Following the February 1917 Revolution, Anna left Kambarka the following year to work in Ekaterinburg, leaving behind her young son Ivan and mother. By some miracle, Anna was able to get a job at the Ipatiev House, the mansion requisitioned by the Bolsheviks and renamed the “House of Special Purpose”, where Emperor Nicholas II and his family were held under house arrest from April to July 1918. Anna was entrusted with the care of two cows, which provided milk for the prisoners.

PHOTO: in 2017, Razif Mirzayanov, Chairman of the Society of Historians and Archivists of the Kambarsky District, was awarded a medal in honour for his research on the Romanov’s

THE TSAR CALLED HER ANYUTA

One day, after having milked one of the cows, Anna went up to the house with a full bucket of milk, only to be rebuffed by the Empress herself: “Anna, once again, you milked both cows in one bucket. The milk will turn sour!” “What are you talking about,” Anna replied, “this bucket is from one cow that gives so much milk.” After straining the milk, Anna returned to the barn to milk the second cow. Then, pouring flour into a bucket for a mash to feed the cattle, she heard someone’s footsteps enter the barn.

Looking around, Anna saw Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna standing before her. “Now I understand why cows are milked in buckets,” said Nicholas. One of the cows reached out to him with her muzzle, which was covered in flour, the Tsar gently stroked the animal. “Don’t you feel sorry, Anyuta, for using so much flour?” he asked the servant. “Yes, there is a lot of it, but it will be enough for a long time,” she replied briskly. From then on, the Tsar called her Anyuta.

Since there were few servants, Anna also had to work in the kitchen, helping the cook to prepare and serve meals, says Mirzayanov. She later recalled that the guards present in the dining room during lunch, often helped themselves to the food prepared for the Imperial Family.

PHOTO: the house in Kambarka, where Anna lived with her family. Her descendants still live here

THANKED FOR HER WORK AND ORDERED TO LEAVE

“On a hot summer day in early July 1918, a search was conducted in the Ipatiev House,” Razif Mirzayanov continues his story. A band of Chekist thugs examined the personal belongings of the Imperial Family, even roughly leafing through books and rummaging through linens. The captives and their faithful servants stood in silence while they carried out their work. Anna stood frightened in the doorway of the room where the Tsar knelt before a kiot with icons and prayed. He never turned around or stood up while the search was going on. One of the Chekists, while turning out suitcases, cursed and swore filthy obscenities at the Tsar. In one of the suitcases, the Chekist found a long black lace shawl. Turning it in his dirty hands, he angrily threw it to Anna and shouted: “Take it, it will come in handy for you, while you are still young!”

This black lace shawl was kept for a long time in the Kuzmin family: Anna’s daughter-in-law sometimes wore it to church, and many parishioners noted it’s beautiful workmanship, none even suspecting that it had once belonged to one of the female members of the Imperial Family.

After the search, the guards in the house were completely changed – and this detail of Anna’s story is also confirmed by historians. On 4th July 1918, Yakov Yurovsky was appointed commandant of the “House of Special Purpose”, instead of Alexander Dmitrievich Avdeev (1887-1947), the first commandant of the Ipatiev House, who was considered unreliable.

Shortly thereafter, the Tsar approached Anyuta, he thanked her for her work, and told her that his children had fallen in love with her, – says Razif Mirzayanov. He then told her to leave the Ipatiev House and never come back. He ave Anna a souvenir photo on a passe-partout, which depicted the Imperial Family, taken in 1913. With tears in her eyes, Anyuta said goodbye to the Imperial Family and left, concealing the photo and black lace shawl.

A few days later, on the night of 16/17 July, the Bolsheviks woke the Imperial Family in the middle of the night and ordered them to dress and go downstairs. The Emperor and Empress with their five children, along with four retainers: the doctor, the cook, the valet and the maid went to the basement of the house. At the request of Alexandra Fedorovna, two chairs were brought for her and her ailing son, the rest stood along the wall. Then Yurovsky brought in a firing squad, read out the verdict and gave the command to shoot every one – there were no survivors of the regicide.

PHOTO: the Emperor presented Anna with a copy of this famous photograph – taken in 1913 – as a keepsake. The Russian caption “Царь назыбал ее Анютой” translated reads “The Tsar called her Anyuta”.

COOKED “ROYAL DISHES”

There is no evidence to suggest that the Imperial Family could have guessed their captors plans to murder them in such a violent manner that fateful night, however, Anna Vasilyevna was sure that it was thanks to Nicholas II’s request that she leave the Ipatiev House that saved her life.

“After leaving the Ipatiev House, and her conversation with the Emperor, Anna went home. Her husband who had been a German prisoner of war, returned home to Russia, some 11 years after leaving for the front. Soon they had another son, Sergei, who then participated in the Great Patriotic War,” – says Razif Mirzayanov.

Subsequently, Anna Vasilievna often recalled her life in Ekaterinburg, but only her niece Zoya knew the details of her story. She didn’t keep any records, as it it was too dangerous during the Bolshevik and Soviet years. Zoya, however, remembered how Anna Vasilievna came to visit her with unusual dishes – for example, fried pike stuffed with grains and onions. “Such a dish was prepared for the Tsar’s table,” she said. The photograph of the Imperial Family – gifted by the Emperor – Anna carefully kept in a chest, but after her death, the picture was placed on a chest of drawers, and in 1970 it disappeared.

© Paul Gilbert. 9 October 2022

Ekaterinburg celebrates 300th anniversary in 2023

In 2023, Ekaterinburg will celebrate the 300th anniversary of its founding in 1723. This historic anniversary will be marked by a series of events and celebrations, plus the implementation of a number of significant construction projects dedicated to the founding of the Ural city, the center of the Sverdlovsk region and the Urals Federal District, the unofficial “capital of the Urals” and the fourth-largest city in Russia.

Preparations for the celebration began in 2017. It is estimated that the total amount of public and private funding for the celebrations and projects is 244 billion rubles [$4.4 billion USD].

Among the hundreds of events planned are the following:

  • reconstruction of St. Catherine’s Cathedral (destroyed in 1930), according to a new design and a new location
  • expansion of the Hermitage-Ural Cultural and Educational Center, branch of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg
  • Tsar’s Days, marking the 105th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, with the participation of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who will perform a Patriarch Liturgy at the Church on the Blood, and then lead the 21-km (13 miles) Cross Procession to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

PHOTO: St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent, Ekaterinburg

“Ekaterinburg: my favourite Russian city”

People often ask me “Why Ekaterinburg?” as opposed to the former Imperial capital of St. Petersburg, especially given that “Ekaterinburg has such a dark history.”

Once a bastion of Bolshevism, Ekaterinburg has slowly shed its status as the “capital of atheism”. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Urals has experienced a revival of faith, with Ekaterinburg as the center of Orthodox Russia in the region. It is important to add, that Ekaterinburg has done more to honour Nicholas II and his family than any other city in Russia. Thanks to my visits to Ekaterinburg in 2012, 2016 and 2018, it is a city which I have grown to admire and love.

Articles about Paul Gilbert and his admiration for Ekaterinburg, published in Russian media:

“Пол Гилберт: «Екатеринбург – мой любимый российский город»”
Ольга Кошкина. ‘Областная газета’ 22 октября 2019

“«Интерес мира к жизни и царствованию Николая II сохраняется по сей день»:
британский историк о Царской семье”

Ольга Кошкина. Екатеринбургская Епархия. 26 октября 2019

PHOTO: On the eve of the 300th anniversary of Ekaterinburg, the city plans to erect a statue – by the Russian sculptor Fedor Petrov – dedicated to the patron saint of the city – St. Catherine.

“The last capital of the Russian Empire”

“On a spiritual level, Ekaterinburg is the last capital of the Russian Empire, because the residence of the Sovereign was always considered the capital in Russia. Peter the Great never officially transferred the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg, but since he lived there, it was the capital,” says Russian historian Peter Multatuli.

He noted that in 1918, for 78 days, Emperor Nicholas II and his family lived in Ekaterinburg, and that is why the Ural capital can be considered the last capital of the Russian Empire. [It is important to note that many historians – myself included – firmly believe that the Tsar’s signing of the instrument of abdication, his status as Tsar remained inviolate and unassailable – PG]

“Petrograd and Moscow to one degree or another welcomed his overthrow, and they bear a greater responsibility in this than any other Russian city. No matter what anyone says, it was Ekaterinburg that served as the last Imperial residence, which, according to God’s special plan, became the Royal Golgotha,” added Multatuli.

According to him, in the near future, Ekaterinburg will play a great role in the history of Russia, because “the city named after St. Catherine and becoming the Royal Golgotha ​​will be the city of Russian resurrection.”

TSAR’S DAYS
Journey to Ekaterinburg
by Paul Gilbert

Read all about my journey to Ekaterinburg – my 3rd visit to the Urals – in July 2018, to take part in the events marking the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of Nicholas II and his family.

On 17th July 1998, independent researcher and writer Paul Gilbert travelled to St. Petersburg, for the interment of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. Twenty years later to the day, he journeyed to Ekaterinburg, to take part in the events marking the 100th anniversary of the Tsar’s death and martyrdom.

In his own words and photographs, the author shares his experiences and impressions of this historic event, which include visits to the Church on the Blood, Ganina Yama, Porosenkov Log, the Patriarchal Liturgy, exhibitions, and much more.

In addition are 24 illustrated news articles about events leading up to Tsar’s Days in the Urals, from 1st to 31st July 2018.

Gilbert’s solemn journey to the Urals allowed him to experience history in the making, and to honour the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, a century after their death and martyrdom.”

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Hardcover and Paperback editions. 152 pages + Richly illustrated with nearly
200 COLOUR PHOTOS, 65 of which were taken by the author

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO ORDER FROM AMAZON

HARD COVER EDITION @ $40 USD

PAPERBACK EDITION @ $25 USD

© Paul Gilbert. 5 July 2022

The abbess who came to the aid of the Imperial Family in the Ipatiev House

On this day – 29th July 1934 – Schema Magdalena (Dosmanova), the last abbess of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent[1] in Ekaterinburg before the 1917 Revolution, reposed to the Lord.

An early calling

Pelagia Stefanovna Dosmanova (future mother Magdalena) was born in 1847 into a merchant family in the city of Irbit, Perm province. In 1859, her pious parents brought their twelve-year-old daughter to the Novo-Tikhvinsky Monastery[2] in Ekaterinburg.

For her first obedience, the young novice helped in the convent candle factory, then in the rector’s cells. Over the years, she was entrusted with more and more complex and responsible obediences, and Sister Pelagia performed every task with zeal. All the sisters loved her, sensing in her a special spiritual strength, which was combined with a soft, loving attitude towards every person.

In 1893, Pelagia Dosmanova was tonsured and became the nun Magdalena, and just two years later the sisters unanimously elected her abbess “in the conviction that she was of a pious life, of a meek disposition,” as they wrote in the act of election.

PHOTO: the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent [Monastery] [2] in Ekaterinburg

Mother Magdalena

Having become abbess, Mother Magdalena worked tirelessly: she decorated the churches, equipped the cells of the sisters, ensuring that the monastery was in perfect order – she wanted the monastery to look like paradise.

Matushka taught the sisters to pray, and introduced them to reading books on which many generations of monastics were brought up from ancient times. She also took care of the spiritual needs of the faithful who lived near the monastery. Parents often came to visit the monastery, on one occasion a novice took them to the icon-painting workshop, Suddenly, unexpectedly for the parents, all the sisters who were there, as one, stood up and bowed low, with deep reverence. The parents were moved to tears.

Many girls came to the monastery to lead a monastic life under the wise guidance of Mother Magdalena. By 1917, the number of sisters had increased to almost a thousand.

During the First World War, Mother Magdalena, according to the commandment of the Lord, tried to ease the sorrows of her countrymen, the monastery donated money and valuables for the needs of Russia’s soldiers at the front; while an infirmary for wounded soldiers was arranged at the monastery.

Comes to the aid of the Imperial Family in the Ipatiev House

In 1918, Ekaterinburg became a place of exile for many people who were deemed objectionable to the new Bolshevik order, which included bishops, priests and members of the Imperial Family. Mother Magdalena’s heart ached for every innocent prisoner.

From April to July, when Nicholas II and his family were kept under arrest in the Ipatiev House, the nuns of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent were praying for them, asking God to relieve their sufferings, and to give them the strength to bear everything with Christian humility.

The sisters’ help came not only through prayer but also through deeds. Often disregarding their own safety, they supported the Tsar and his family, by bringing various foods to them through the guards.

Matushka gave her blessing to the sisters to carry food to the Ipatiev House for the imprisoned Emperor and his family: milk for Tsesarevich Alexei, cream, eggs, butter, bread, pastries, vegetables, and meat.

On 18th June 1918, a month before their murder, Empress Alexandra Feodorvna acknowledged the kindness shown them by the nuns, and made the following entry in her diary: “The kind nuns are now sending milk and eggs for Alexei and for us, as well as cream.”

The sisters carried food every day until the last day – 16th July – the eve of which the Imperial Family and their four faithful retainers were all shot to death in the basement of the Ipatiev House.

PHOTO: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna

In May 1918, when the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna arrived in Ekaterinburg, she was placed under house arrest [along with other members of the Romanov family], and placed in the Atamanovskie Rooms Hotel.

The sisters petitioned the Bolsheviks for the Grand Duchess to be allowed to live in the monastery. However, their request was rejected. Two months later, they were sent to the city of Alapaevsk, where they too were murdered.

The sisters also came to the aid of Bishop Germogen (Dolganev) of Tobolsk, also imprisoned in a local jail. The nuns delivered dinner to Vladyka from the monastery, Mother Magdalena visited him, and one day, at her request, Vladyka was allowed to serve a mass in prison, at which many prisoners took communion.

Matushka and the sisters of the the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent performed a confessional feat, by openly helping the Imperial Family and other prisoners. Indeed, at that time people were afraid not only to help political prisoners, but even simply to express sympathy for them, knowing that their punishment could lead to imprisonment or execution.

PHOTO: Bolsheviks seize and confiscate valuables from the Novo-Tikhvinsky Monastery, 1920s

“Monastery” on the Third Zagorodnaya

Sadly, the Novo-Tikhvinsky Monastery did not escape the fate suffered by most Orthodox churches and monasteries. In 1920, the monastery was closed, all the sisters were evicted. Over the gates of the monastery, the Bolsheviks hung a large banner: “Long live the World Communist Revolution!“. Mother Magdalene and the sisters looked at this slogan with heartache, often coming to pray at the walls of their native monastery. The monastery, which they had been landscaping for years, was now a pitiful sight, ravaged and defaced with communist inscriptions.

Mother Magdalena settled not far from the monastery, in a private house on Tretya Zagorodnaya Street (now Schmidt Street). Eighteen sisters came to live with her, while the others often came to her for prayer, advice and spiritual edification. During this mournful period, the virtues of Mother Magdalena and her spiritual experience acquired over many years were fully manifested. Having lost her pastoral position and her native monastery, she did not lose heart nor faith. Despite the hardships and persecutions under the Soviet regime, Matushka remained true to her Orthodox faith.

In the house on Tretya Zagorodnaya, the sisters lived as they did in the monastery – every night they read the akathist in front of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God; during the day they worked, read the scriptures, and went church together. Mother Magdalena combined prudent indulgence with moderate severity. She instructed the sisters to begin and end each day with the Jesus Prayer.

PORTRAIT: portrait of Schema Magdalena (Dosmanova). Artist unknown

Blessed Old Woman

The monastery had been closed for many years, yet despite this, new sisters still came to Mother Magdalena, who wanted to devote themselves to God.

In the 1920s, the Bolsheviks ordered the closure of churches and monasteries, and the arrest of priests, clergy, nuns and monks. The arrests carried out by the atheistic authorities did not bypass Mother Magdalena, but during interrogations she acted as a fool, which led the Chekists astray. She was arrested 8 times, and imprisoned for three months.

Three days before her death, predicted that she would die in three days. During the remaining three days of her life, she received daily communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. As Matushka lay on her deathbed, many believers came to say goodbye to her. She blessed each of them with the icon of Christ the Redeemer, and the icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.

On 29th (O.S. 16th) July 1934, surrounded by her children, Mother Magdalena calmly surrendered her spirit to the Lord. Just before her death, she overshadowed everyone with the Tikhvin Icon and said: “I hand you over to the Mother of God …”.

PHOTO: Mother Magdalena’s final resting place, on the grounds of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent in Ekaterinburg

Mother Magdalena was buried at the Ivanovo Cemetery in Ekaterinburg. A wooden cross was placed on the grave, and on the tablet the spiritual daughters wrote with reverence and love: “Pray to God for us, dear matushka!”.

On 5th February 2021, Mother Magdalena’s earthly remains were exhumed from her grave in the Ivanovo Cemetery, and reburied in a new resting place at the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent.

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

© Paul Gilbert. 29 July 2022

NOTES:

[1] The Novo-Tikhvinsy Convent is a community of female monastics. It was founded in the late 18th century, growing out of an alms-house at the cemetery church in Ekaterinburg. It is the home of the icon of the Tikhvin Mother of God. During the Tsarist period, the convent grew to consist of six churches, numerous cells, a hospital, and an almshouse. The dominant building on the monastery grounds is the cathedral dedicated to St. Alexander Nevsky.

[2] In English usage since about the 19th century the term “convent” almost invariably refers to a community of women, while “monastery” refers to a community of men. In historical usage they are often interchangeable.

Myrrh-streaming icon of Tsar Nicholas II brought to Ekaterinburg for Tsar’s Days

PHOTO: Alexander Chernavsky carries the miraculous Myrrh-Streaming Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, during the 21-km Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

The annual Cross Procession held during Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg on 17th July is known for many miraculous events. It was during this year’s procession, that the miraculous Myrrh-Streaming Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, once again began to stream myrrh. The icon was brought from Moscow, by the head of the Military Orthodox Mission, Alexander Chernavsky, and this miracle was witnessed by the film crew of the Orthodox Soyuz TV channel, headed by correspondent Svetlana Ladina.

“This is the 30th annual Cross Procession in which we are taking part. The icon of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II has been streaming myrrh since 1998, and today, look, droplets of myrrh on the icon itself and along the frame have appeared like “diamonds”. I think the Sovereign is happy that we are here, and these “diamonds” bless all the participants in the procession. Kiss and pray for the sovereign to open our eyes and heart,” – said Alexander Chernavsky.

The icon of the Russian Emperor Nicholas II was painted in the United States of America even before the sovereign was glorified in Russia by the Moscow Patriarchate. And this event has an amazing story . . .

VIDEO: interview with Alexander Chernavsky, and coverage of the Cross Procession from the Church on the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

The miraculous Myrrh-Streaming Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II

The Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas was commissioned by Ija Schmit (1936-2018), a Russian émigré in the United States, who used money inherited from her mother to have the icon painted in 1996.

Paul Gilbert first met Ija in 1998, when she joined his annual Romanov Tour to Russia, which that year included Moscow and Crimea. Ija was accompanied by her husband Harvey and their daughter Nina. It was during this visit that she told me about this icon, a copy of which she later gifted me.

The icon would be dedicated to the future canonization of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas in Russia[1], and in memory of her mother. After Ija’s initial inspiration to have the icon painted, she contacted iconographer Paul Tikhomirov, himself a Russian immigrant, to see if he was interested in her project. Tikhomirov’s response was, “I will make the icon shine!” They decided to depict Nicholas II in coronation robes [1996 was the 100th anniversary of his coronation in Moscow], with St. Nicholas, his patron saint, and St. Job, on whose feast day Nicholas was born, in the upper right and left hand corners. Below the figures would be printed in Russian, “This Holy Icon is for the Canonization of the Tsar-Martyr in Russia.”

Ija received the finished icon on 12th May 1996 and then traveled to Texas, where it was blessed by Bishop Constantine (Yesensky), an old family friend, who had served as Bishop of Great Britain. The icon, however, was not intended solely for family veneration. Ija and her husband, Harvey Schmit, had already arranged to have paper copies of the icon printed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II on 27th May (O.S. 14th) 1996.

Forty-four thousand copies of the icon were printed. The distribution of the icons [printed in three sizes], was handled by Ija’s own non-profit organization, the Society Honoring Russian Nobility, and income from the icons sold in the West purchased food and medicine for needy pensioners and orphans in Russia. A fourth, smaller version of the icon was printed by the thousands and given away in Russia without charge.

As word of the icon spread, Christians from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and even Serbia, began writing and requesting copies. The Society has met all these requests and distributed more than twenty thousand icons in Russia alone.

PHOTO: Alexander Chernavsky holding the miraculous Myrrh-Streaming Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, at the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

On a visit to Russia in late 1996, Father Herman [Ija Schmit’s brother] presented a number of prints to Fr. Juvenaly, the priest at the St. Nicholas Almshouse in Ryazan. On 16th (O.S. 2nd) March 1998 (the anniversary of Tsar Nicholas II’ abdication and the miraculous appearance of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God. Fr. Juvenaly blessed Dr. Oleg Belchenko with one of the prints, which the doctor took with him back to Moscow. The paper icon had been given to him in a glassfronted, three-dimensional wooden icon-case (a kiot) and Dr. Belchenko set it in a prominent place in his Moscow apartment. On 5th September, Dr. Belchenko noticed that a red spot had appeared over the right eyelid of the Tsar. The following day a second red spot appeared over the left eye. Dr. Belchenko first compared the icon with a smaller print to be sure that he had simply overlooked the distinctive marks. The smaller icon did not match. Dr. Belchenko then called Sretensky Monastery of the Meeting of the Lord to ask what he should do. The monks asked him to bring the icon of Tsar Nicholas to the monastery the following morning. Dr.Belchenko arrived early and stood through the liturgy holding the icon in a plastic bag at his side. At the end of the liturgy a moleben and blessing of the waters was held. The officiating priest recognized Dr. Belchenko, and knowing that he had come with the icon, had the choir sing a troparion for Tsar-Martyr Nicholas. Following the troparion, Dr. Belchenko noticed one of the parishioners staring at him. Finally, the man approached and asked, “What is that fragrance?” Dr. Belchenko replied: “You are probably smelling incense – I am sorry, I can’t smell anything myself because I have a cold.” The man persisted: “No. I tell you, the fragrance is coming from somewhere around you… the smell is much more refined than incense.” Dr. Belchenko replied impatiently, “You should be ashamed of talking such nonsense while the service is going on!” The man moved away embarrassed, but within a few moments other worshippers filtered over, curious about the fragrance and asking what was in the package. “Nothing, only an icon,” he replied. “Show it to us.” As Dr. Belchenko opened the package and took out the icon, the remarkable scent filled the church.

The icon of Tsar Nicholas II was displayed for veneration in the monastery church for three weeks. After Dr. Belchenko took it home, the fragrance continued to a lesser degree, and as word began to spread, Muscovites increasingly asked to come to his apartment to venerate the icon. Dr. Belchenko felt that his home was too small to accommodate many visitors, so he asked an Orthodox friend, Alla Dyakova, to keep the icon in her flat, where those who wished could venerate it. When asked how he was able relinquish such a treasure, Dr. Belchenko answered, “The icon is not mine. It belongs to all Russians.”

On 19th October, Alla Dyakova and Fr. Peter Vlashchenko, a married priest from the Ivanovo region, took the icon to Elder Kyril of St. Sergius Lavra, who was in Peredelkino, outside Moscow. Elder Kyril venerated the icon and blessed Fr. Peter and Alla with the words, “Go. Take the icon to whomever asks for it.”

On 1st November, the icon was brought to the Martha-Mary Convent in Moscow, founded by Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the sister- in-law of Tsar Nicholas II and herself a new-martyr. The day not only marked the birthday of Elizabeth, but the anniversary of Tsar Nicholas’ assuming the throne at his father’s death in 1894. The icon of Tsar Nicholas was placed on the analogion next to an icon of Grand Duchess Elizabeth. Throughout the Divine Liturgy the icon of the Tsar poured forth waves of fragrance, filling the chapel.

It is worth mentioning that the popular veneration of the Tsar-Martyr played an important role in the canonization of the Imperial Family at the Jubilee Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000 among the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.

In August 2000, the Russian Church met at a synod in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, Moscow. Amongst the things discussed was the issue of canonization. The eagerly-awaited news finally escaped the cathedral’s walls to the faithful gathered outside: Tsar Nicholas II and his family were now recognized as Saints! The date of their martyrdom was now recorded in Orthodox calendars around the world as their feast day. It is certain that influential in this decision were two paper icons of the martyrs, both of which exuded sweet-smelling myrrh and so revealed those Saints to be themselves “a sweet aroma of Christ unto God” (2 Cor 2:15).

The keeper of the miraculous image, the Moscow surgeon Oleg Ivanovich Belchenko, has travelled around Russia for many years, bringing the icon to to churches and monasteries arousing veneration of the Holy Royal Martyrs wherever it went through its aromatic myrrh. Many Orthodox Christians believe that their prayers have been answered by God through the intercession of the Tsar and his family.

Lately, due to his age, Oleg has handed over this honourary mission to Alexander Fedorovich Chernavsky, a publicist, head of the Orthodox Mission for the Revival of the Spiritual Values of the Russian People. The Myrrh-Streaming Icon of Tsar Nicholas II, appears with the same unpretentious simplicity with which the late Tsar laid down his throne and bore his final months of house arrest before his death and martyrdom.

Holy Tsar Martyr Nicholas II, Pray to God for Us! 

NOTES:

[1] The desire of many Russian Orthodox Christians for the canonization of Tsar Nicholas and his family does not stem from a belief that their personal lives were blameless, although from historical accounts and the family’s own letters it is obvious that they were Christians of great integrity. The widespread desire for the family’s canonization is based on the fact that Tsar Nicholas and his family were murdered as a result of his position as the sacramentally anointed Orthodox monarch of Russia.

© Paul Gilbert. 21 July 2022

Divine Liturgy 16th July 2022, Church on the Blood, Ekaterinburg

On 16/17 July – the eve marking the 104th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II, his family and four faithful retainers, commemorative services were held in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg and in the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

PHOTO: icon of the Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, Lower Church

PHOTO: pilgrims attend vespers in the Lower Church

PHOTO: view of the Imperial Room (above and below), Lower Church

On the afternoon of 16th July, small vespers with an akathist to the holy Royal Passion-Bearers were performed by the archpastors of the Russian Orthodox Church, headed by Metropolitan Vincent of Tashkent and Uzbekistan, in the lower church of the Church on the Blood.

On the night of 16th July, an all night vigil was held on the square in front of the Church on the Blood. An estimated 46,000 Orthodox pilgrims took part in the Divine Liturgy, followed by a Cross Procession to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

The Divine Liturgy began at 23:30, and was broadcast live across Russia by the Orthodox TV channel Soyuz, and available to watch on the YouTube channel and on the website of the Soyuz TV channel.

PHOTO: pilgrims gather on the night of 16th July on the square in front of the Church on the Blood

The Divine Liturgy was led by nine bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church: Metropolitan Eugene of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye; Metropolitan Vikenty of Tashkent and Uzbekistan; Metropolitan Alexy of Chelyabinsk and Mias; Archbishop Nikolay of Salekhard and Novo-Urengoysk; Bishop Feodosy of Isikul and Russko-Polyansk, Bishop Theodosius of Nizhny Tagil, Bishop Methodius of Kamensk and Kamyshlov, Bishop Vladimir of Shadrinsk and Dalmatov, Bishop Vikenty of Zlatoust and Satka. The archpastors were co-served by the clergy of the Yekaterinburg Diocese.

Special guests at this years’ Divine Liturgy included: governor of the Sverdlovsk region Yevgeny Vladimirovich Kuyvashev, and historian and writer Pyotr Valentinovich Multatuli, the great-grandson of Ivan Kharitonov (1872-1918), who served as the Head Cook of the Imperial family. 

“I consider the story of the murder of Emperor Nicholas II and his family in Ekaterinburg, an important part of Ural history, Ural self-consciousness – this tragic page in history will forever remain with us, many future generations will have to remember this and repent of this sin,” – said Kuyvashev.

PHOTO: the miraculous Myrrh-Streaming Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II

PHOTO: the Divine Liturgy was led by nine bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church

The expedition commander of the International Space Station, Oleg Artemiev, delivered a message of congratulation to those participanting in Tsar’s Days: “I want to convey to the parishioners and pilgrims of the Church on the Blood my warmest congratulations on the Tsar’s Days, and to all Ekaterinburg residents on the upcoming 300th anniversary of the city of St. Catherine, which, God willing, we will celebrate together in 2023″.

PHOTO: an estimated 46,000 pilgrims took part in this year’s 21-km Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martytrs at Ganina Yama

PHOTO: the procession nears the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

Following the Divine Liturgy, at about three o’clock in the morning, the combined choirs of the Ekaterinburg Diocese began to sing God Save the Tsar!, they were enthusiastically joined by the tens of thousands of pilgrims on the square.

It was at this point, that the pilgrims assembled for the 21-km [13 miles] Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama. The route of the this years procession remained unchanged from previous years, passing along the same route that the regicides transported the bodies of members of the Imperial family in 1918.

Foreign vistors from the USA, Germany, Serbia, Ukraine, Moldova, the Baltic countries, Uzbekistan and other countries also took part in this year’s Cross Procession. The column of pilgrims stretched along the road for kilometers. The procession was surrounded by police officers, 12 streets in the city center were closed. The pilgrims were accompanied by 10 mobile help groups of the Orthodox Mercy Service and volunteers of the Tsar’s Days.

PHOTO: pilgrims arriving at the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs

PHOTO: pilgrims line the the wooden causeway which surrounds the abandoned mine shaft at Ganina Yama, reflecting on the crime which took place here on 17th July 1918

PHOTO: pilgrims pray at a tall Orthodox cross, which marks the edge of the mine shaft, where the regicides threw the remains of Tsar Nicholas II and his family

The first pilgrims of the Cross Procession began to arrive at the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at about 7:00 a.m. The brethren of the monastery greeted the pilgrims with the ringing of bells. Upon arrival at the monastery, a Divine Liturgy was performed at the tall Orthodox cross located on the edge of Mine No. 7, where the bodies of members of the Imperial family and their faithful servants were thrown by the regicides. The Divine Liturgy was led by Metropolitan Vikenty of Tashkent, Metropolitan Eugene of Yekaterinburg, Archbishop Nicholas of Salekhard, Bishop Theodosius of Isilkul, and Bishop Theodosius of Nizhny Tagil. At the end of the service, Bishop Vincent and Bishop Eugene heartily thanked all the participants in the procession for their spiritual achievement.

After the prayer service, all the pilgrims were offered a hearty meal of buckwheat porridge, bread and tea, prepared by volunteers in the field kitchen. Drinking water was freely available for everyone, and a first-aid post was available. Many pilgrims sought rest under the shade of trees. A fleet of 17 buses provided by the UMMC and the regional Ministry of Transport, offered FREE transport for pilgrims to Ekaterinburg and Sredneuralsk.

© 19 July 2022. Paul Gilbert

What is Tsar’s Days?

Tsar’s Days before the 1917 Revolution

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg. Tsar’s Days in Russia actually began during the Tsarist era, however, it was banned during the Soviet years. It was restored in Ekaterinburg in 2002, to mark the deaths and martyrdom of Nicholas II and his family on 17th July 1918.

The Tsar’s Days were divided into two groups – solemn and high solemn days.

The first group included the coronation, accession to the throne, birthdays, as well as the namesake [see below] of the emperor, empress-mother, empress-wife, and the heir to the throne. The second group included birthdays and namesakes of other members of the Imperial Family.

  • A namesake consists of celebrating a day of the year that is associated with one’s given name. The celebration is similar to a birthday. Russians celebrate name days [именины in Russian] separately from birthdays. Such a celebration begins with attendance at the divine services marking that day [in the Russian tradition, the All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy], and usually with a festive party thereafter. Before the October Revolution of 1917, Russians regarded name days as important as, or more important than, the celebration of birthdays, based on the rationale that one’s baptism is the event by which people become “born anew” in Christ. The Russian Imperial family followed a tradition of giving name-day gifts, such as a diamond or a pearl.

On high solemn days, special prayers were held in churches: on birthdays, a general thanksgiving service was performed, and on the day of the namesake, a prayer service to the saint of the same name [i.e. Nicholas II + Saint Nicholas of Myra]. On the day of the accession to the throne of the sovereign-emperor and his coronation, prayers were served for a special rite.

The solemn days, were postponed until the following Sunday. If the solemn day fell on the first week of Great Lent , it was postponed to the Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. If it fell during Holy Week (the last week of Great Lent) or the first day of the celebration of Easter, the solemn day was postponed to Monday of Bright Week.

On 7th March 1917, the Holy Synod, in response to the February Revolution, began to call the “reigning” House of Romanov in the past tense and abolished “Tsar’s Days”. The corresponding decree of the Provisional Government appeared on 16th March of the same year.

Below, is a list of the four high solemn days celebrated for Nicholas II in 1913 [dates are noted in the Old Style Julian Calendar]:

May 6 – Birth of Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich ;
May 14 – Sacred Crowning of Their Imperial Majesties;
October 20 – Accession to the throne of Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich;
December 6 – Namesake of Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich.

Tsar’s Days in Post-Soviet Russia

In the 21st century, Tsar Days have taken on a whole new meaning. The annual holidays are held in mid-July in the Ekaterinburg diocese, during which divine services are held, a cross procession in memory of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, as well as a festival of Orthodox culture, including exhibitions and other social events.

The name is taken from the pre-revolutionary Tsar’s Days, timed to coincide with the anniversaries of solemn events in the lives of members of the Romanov Dynasty. The dates of the modern Tsar’s Days are timed to the dates of 21st July 1613 – the day of the anointing of the first tsar of the Romanov dynasty, Mikhail Fedorovich, and 17th July 1918 – the day of the brutal murders of the last Emperor of Russia Nicholas II and his family, in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg and 18th July – the day of the murders of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, Princes of the Imperial Blood Ioann, Konstantin and Igor Konstantinovich, Prince Vladimir Paley (son of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich) in Alapaevsk.

Events

As part of the Tsar’s Days, an all-night vigil is held in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg, which includes a Divine Liturgy followed by a Cross Procession. The Tsar’s Days Festival celebrates Orthodox culture in the Ekaterinburg Diocese. Dozens of religious and secular public events dedicated to the tsarist theme are held, including exhibitions, concerts, conferences and other events.

Some of the city’s museums and churches become venues for exhibitions dedicated to Emperor Nicholas II, his family and other members of the Romanov dynasty, who were murdered in Ekaterinburg and Alapaevsk.

The main event, for which Orthodox pilgrims come to Ekaterinburg, is the solemn divine liturgy, which takes place on the night of the murder of the Holy Royal Murders – 16/17 July, in the Church on the Blood. At the end of the Liturgy, tens of thousands of pilgrims take part in the 21 km Cross procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama.

Pilgrims from other cities in Russia organize pilgrimages from their cities to Ekaterinburg to participate in the Tsar’s Days. A growing number of Russian cities [i.e. St. Petersburg, Kazan, etc.] are today organizing their own Tsar’s Days events, but on a much smaller scale than that of Ekaterinburg.

PHOTO: His Holiness Patriarch Kirill delivers a Divine Liturgy outside the Church on the Blood on the night of 16/17 July 2018 (above); His Holiness Patriarch Kirill leads the 21 km Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama (below)

100th anniversary of the death of members of the Romanov family

In 2018, the Tsar’s days in the Ekaterinburg Diocese were timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of members of the Romanov family in Ekaterinburg and Alapaevsk. The centenary celebrations also included the XVII Tsar’s Days Festival of Orthodox Culture, a five-day visit by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a meeting of the Holy Synod.

The first procession in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, headed by Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Kirill, took place in 2002, in which more than 2 thousand pilgrims and about 100 clerics participated. In 2012, for the first time since the construction of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg, an all-night vigil and Divine Liturgy were performed in the open air.

In 2017 they estimated crowds of up to 60,000 people. In 2019, 60 thousand participated, and in 2020, 10 thousand people [due to COVID]. In addition, up to 2 thousand people gathered an alternative religious procession of the schismatic and tsarist monk Sergius (Romanov) in the Sredneuralsky Nunnery.

In 2018, more than 100,000 Orthodox Christians, monarchists, among others from across Russia and around the world took part in the Patriarchal Liturgy and procession of the cross from the Church on the Blood to the Ganina Yama.

The events marking Tsar’s Days in 2018, fell on the tail end of the 2018 Football World Cup which was held in Ekaterinburg that year. It was estimated that as many as 200,000 people flocked to the city to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the regicide, undoubtedly the largest public demonstration yet of the growing significance of the Russia’s last emperor and tsar in the cultural, historical and spiritual life of modern-day Russia.

*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

*  *  *

On 17th July 2018, independent researcher and writer Paul Gilbert travelled to Ekaterinburg, to take part in the events marking the 100th anniversary of the Tsar’s death and martyrdom.

In his own words and photographs, the author shares his experiences and impressions of this historic event, which include visits to the Church on the Blood, Ganina Yama, Porosenkov Log, the Patriarchal Liturgy, exhibitions, and much more.

Available in both hardcover and paperback editions. 152 pages. Nearly 200 COLOUR photos – many of them taken by me, during my visit to Ekaterinburg in July 2018. Click HERE to order your copy

© Paul Gilbert. 17 July 2022

The Fate of Nikolai Nikolaevich Ipatiev, 1869-1938

While the tragic fate of Russia’s last tsar, his family and their four faithful retainers is well known, the life and fate of the owner of the notorious house in Ekaterinburg, where they were brutally murdered on 17th July 1918 – Nikolai Nikolaevich Ipatiev (1869-1938), remains less familiar.

Nikolai was born on 18th February 1869 in Moscow, to Nikolai Alekseevich Ipatiev (1839-1890) a well-known architect in Moscow, who held a prominent and influential post – one of the three official architects of the first Russian Insurance Society – the most respected in the country. His wife Anna Dmitrievna Ipatieva (nee Glika) came from a family that gave Russia many remarkable intellectuals.

In addition to Nikolai, the couple had two other children, a daughter Vera and a brother Vladimir (1867-1952), who became a famous chemist, who is considered one of the founders of petrochemistry in the United States.

Nikolai was a graduate of the 3rd Moscow Cadet Corps, the Nikolaev Engineering School in St. Petersburg and the Military Engineering Academy. In 1906, after serving in the army, he retired with the rank of engineer captain and settled in Ekaterinburg, where he began working as a civil engineer. He later opened a very successful company engaged in the laying of railroad tracks.

At first, Nikolai lived in a rented apartment, but his business was so successful, that two years later in 1908, he was able to buy a two-storey stone mansion at Voznesenskaya Gorka, 49/9 paying the former owner 6 thousand rubles. He became the third owner of the house since it’s construction in the 1880s.

Nikolai and his wife lived on the upper floor of the house, while the main floor was used for his thriving business. The interiors were richly decorated with iron castings, stucco mouldings, and the ceilings were decorated with artistic painting. The house was equipped with all the modern amenities: electricity, sewerage, a bathroom with a water heater, a wine cellar, and even a telephone.

He took part in the construction of the Ekaterinburg-Perm railway. He was active in public and local history activities. He also participated in the development of the project for the construction of the building of the Ural Mining Institute. He also served as an engineer of the Railway Troops of the Russian Armed Forces, a unit in the engineering corps of the Imperial Russian Army.

PHOTO: early 20th century view of the Ipatiev House (left) from the bell tower of the Ascension Church

THE BOLSHEVIKS EVICT THE IPATIEV’S

Nikolai Ipatiev and his wife Maria Feodorovna Ipatieva (1876-1953), led a quiet and peaceful life until April 1918, when the Bolsheviks suddenly knocked on the door of their house. Nikolai’s memories of that day are preserved in the State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF).

“On 27th April, Commissar Zhilinsky [Alexander Nikolaevich Zhilinsky, 1884-1937] came to me and, announced that my house would be occupied for the needs of the council, and then ordered me to clean the entire house by 29th April,” writes Nikolai. “Having overheard the order, my wife asked Zhilinksy, among other things, whether the integrity of our belongings that we would leave in the house would be guaranteed to us; Zhilinsky replied to this that the people who would be living in the house would not damage anything.”

The choice and location of the Imperial family’s place of imprisonment is explained by Alexander Dmitrievich Avdeev (1887-1947), the first commandant of the Ipatiev House [renamed “House of Special Purpose” by the Bolsheviks] in his memoirs, that it was located “… almost in the very centre of the city, in such a place that its defence against an external attempt to free the former tsar was favourable in all respects … ”

Ipatiev was able to take only a small number of personal belongings from the house. He locked the cabinet with his valuable books in his office. His wife locked their dishes in the dining room. The rest of their belongings were locked in the basement pantry, a room adjacent to the one where the regicide was carried out, and then locked with a key.

“The keys to the locked rooms were left with me, while the members of the Commission sealed the rooms themselves with the Soviet seal,” said Ipatiev. “I had moved our folded kitchen and table utensils, chests with clothes and linen into the carriage house . After some time, the Chairman of the App. Committee Sergei Egorovich Chutskaev (1876-1944) demanded from me the keys to all the locked rooms in order to check what was in them and, after inspecting the rooms, he replaced seals on them.”

Until the very last moment, Ipatiev did not know who exactly the Bolsheviks were preparing his house for. Only after 29th April, when he had already moved out [Nikolai and his wife moved to the village of Kurinskoye], did his neighbour inform him that the ex-tsar Nicholas II, his wife and one of his daughters [Grand Duchess Maria] had been settled in the mansion. The rest of the family members were brought later.

A high double wooden fence exceeding the windows of the second floor in height, was built around the outer perimeter of the house, closing it off from the street. The fence had a single gate in front of which a sentry was constantly on duty, two guard posts were placed inside, eight outside. Machine guns were installed in the attics of neighbouring buildings.The Imperial family were held under house arrest in the Ipatiev House for 78 days, from 28th April to 17th July 1918.

PHOTO: Nikolai Nikolaevich Ipatiev (1869-1938)

“THE TENANT HAS LEFT”

Before leaving, Nikolai Ipatiev made an agreement with his cousin Yevgenia Poppel that she would send him a telegram with certain words if the Bolsheviks suddenly vacated his house. And such a telegram came to him on 22nd July – five days after the murder of the Imperial Family. It contained only four words: “The tenant has left,” whereupon Nikolai and his wife returned to Ekaterinburg.

An article appeared in the newspaper Ural Worker – stating that, “at the numerous requests of the workers, the blood-drinking tsar was shot.”

On the same day, Nikolai Nikolaevich was summoned to the local Cheka, who returned to him, the keys to his own house. By that time, all traces of blood had been washed away, the floors swept, the personal belongings of the dead packed and taken away. Nikolai and his wife never returned to the “bloody house” again, even leaving his belongings, which he had stored in the house.

Later, during an interview Ipatiev noted that “in all the years of the existence of the house, no one had died in it. And then, overnight, eleven people were all murdered at once … “

On 25th July, Ekaterinburg was occupied by the Czechoslovak Corps. Upon the arrival of the White Army, Admiral Alexander Vasilyevich Kolchak (1874-1920), ordered the Ipatiev House sealed, “the crime scene was to remain intact.” He ordered investigator Nikolai Alekseevich Sokolov (1882-1924), to launch an investigation into the fate of Nicholas II and his family, and the events which took place in the house of engineer Ipatiev, where bullet marks were discovered in the basement walls.

PHOTO: Nikolai Ipatiev’s grave at the Olshansky Cemetery in Prague

LIFE AND DEATH IN EXILE

On 28th July, 1919, Ekaterinburg was retaken by the Reds, Nikolai Ipatiev was now considered an “enemy of the Bolsheviks”, forcing him to flee the Urals.

Nikolai and his wife Maria evacuated from Ekaterinburg with the Whites. They travelled across Siberia to Japan, then moved to Turkey, but eventually ended up in Czechoslavakia in 1920, where they settled in Prague, teaching at the Civil Engineering Institute.

Nikolai died there on 20th April 1938, and buried in the crypt of the Assumption Church, at the Olshansky Cemetery in Prague. His burial niche is decorated with an orthodox icon of the Saviour Made Without Hands. On the church’s website, they note in one line: “N.I. Ipatiev, in whose house the last Russian Emperor and his august family were killed. Maria died in Prague in 1953, and is buried near her husband.

On 22-23 September 1977, the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg where Emperor Nicholas II and his family were held under house arrest for 78 days before being murdered, was razed to the ground. Click HERE to read my article How Yeltsin justified the demolition of the Ipatiev House, published on 25th February, 2020.

© Paul Gilbert. 14 July 2022

Loyal to the Tsar: General Tatishchev and Prince Dolgorukov

PHOTO: From left to right: Catherine Schneider, Ilya Tatishchev, Pierre Gilliard, Anastasia Hendrikova and Vasily Dolgorukov

On this day – 10th Julu 1918 – two faithful servants to Emperor Nicholas II – General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev and Prince Vasili Alexandrovich Dolgorukov – were murdered by the Bolsheviks.

General Tatishchev and Prince Dolgorukov, faithfully and selflessly served Emperor Nicholas II, for many years. With Christian courage and nobility, they remained faithful to the sovereign, voluntarily followed the Emperor and his family to Tobolsk, and then to Ekaterinburg.

It was on 10th July 1918, that they together took a martyr’s death at the hands of the Bolsheviks and were buried in the cemetery of the Novo-Tikhvin Convent.

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

PHOTO: General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev and Prince Vasili Alexandrovich Dolgorukov

Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev (1859 – 1918) – Adjutant-General of Emperor Nicholas II. The son of General Leonid Aleksandrovich Tatishchev (1827-1881) and Catherine Ilinishna (1835-1915), Ilya Tatishchev is one of the descendants of the founder of Ekaterinburg. He graduated from the Corps des Pages in St Petersburg, and later entered the service of the His Majesty’s Life Guard Hussar Regiment. He later served as adjutant to the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich (1847-1909). On 6th December 1895, he was promoted to colonel. From 1905 he served as Major-General of the Retinue of His Imperial Majesty. In 1910 he was promoted to Adjutant General. He was a member of the Holy Prince Vladimir Brotherhood. He faithfully followed Emperor Nicholas II and his family into exile. He was murdered by the Bolsheviks on 10th July 1918. Ilya Tatishchev is buried in the cemetery (*lost during the Soviet years) of the Novo Tikhvinsky Convent in Ekaterinburg.

Prince Vasily Alexandrovich Dolgorukov ( 1868 – 1918) – Major-General, marshal of the Ministry of the Imperial Court and lands. The son of Prince Alexander Vasilyevich Dolgorukov (1839-1876) and Princess Mary Sergeyevna (1846-1936). He graduated from the Corps des Pages in St Petersburg, and then entered the service of the Life-Guards Horse-Grenadier Regiment. In 1907, he was promoted adjutant to His Imperial Majesty Emperor Nicholas II. From 1912-1914, he served as Regimental Commander of the Life-Guards Horse-Grenadier Regiment. During the First World War, he served at General Headquaters in Mogilev. Dolgorukov faithfully and selflessly served Emperor Nicholas II for 22 years. In March 1917, he voluntarily stayed with the Emperor during his house arrest in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. In August 1917, he then followed the Emperor and his family into exile to Tobolsk.

After his arrival in Ekaterinburg on 30th April 1918, Prince Dolgorukov was arrested “in order to protect public safety.” He was placed in the political department of the Ekaterinburg prison. The Chekists tried to accuse him of planning the escape of the Imperial family. Historians call these accusations groundless. On 10th July 1918, he was shot in a wooded area near the city’s Ivanovskoe Cemetery,. His body was later discovered by a unit of the White Army, and buried in the autumn of 1918 in the cemetery (*lost during the Soviet years) of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent in Ekaterinburg.

Tatishchev and Dolgorukov were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in October 1981.

© Paul Gilbert. 10 July 2022