Russian sculptor proposes removal of monuments to Bolsheviks in Ekaterinburg

PHOTO: monuments to Lenin and Sverdlov in Ekaterinburg

The famous Russian sculptor Konstantin Vasilievich Grunberg has proposed replacing monuments of the Bolshevik leaders Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin) and Yakov Sverdlov in Ekaterinburg with monuments to Emperor Alexander II (1818-1881) and *Empress Catherine I (1684-1727).

*Ekaterinburg was founded on 18th November 1723 and named after the Russian emperor Peter the Great’s wife, who after his death became Empress Catherine I, Yekaterina being the Russian form of her name.

Grunberg believes that by replacing the Bolshevik monuments will help solve the problem with city-planning concept. Although Ekaterinburg is called the capital of the Urals, little of the city’s history is reflected in the the center of Russia’s 4th largest city.

“Lenin’s monument should be removed from the 1905 Square, and in his place a bronze monument to Emperor Alexander II should be returned to its original pedestal” said Konstantin Grunberg.

In 1906, a monument to Alexander II [demolished by the Bolsheviks in 1917] was installed on Cathedral Square [renamed 1905 Square],near the Epiphany Cathedral [demolished by the Bolsheviks in 1930]. The monument to Lenin was installed on the site in the early 1950s.

Grunberg made the same proposal regarding the monument to Sverdlov [opened in 1927], which is situated on the Paris Commune Square in the middle of Lenin Avenue between the Ural Federal University and the Opera and Ballet Theater. The sculptor has proposed that a monument to Empress Catherine I would look more appropriate.

“Throw the monuments to Lenin and Sverdlov into a pit!” Grunberg suggested.

PHOTO: ‘You reap what you sow’ – local monarchists take revenge on the Bolshevik revolutionary and murderer Peter Zakharovich Yermakov (1884-1952), by dosing his grave with red paint symbolizing blood

Konstantin Grunberg also called for debunking the image of the revolutionary “hero” Pyotr Yermakov, who participated in the murder of the Imperial Family and whose grave is located in the cemetery next to the grave of the writer Pavel Bazhov. “People still bring flowers to his grave. We need to destroy this regicide’s grave!” the sculptor said.

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

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

Yermakov’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.

Every year, since the 1990s, Yermakov’s grave has been vandalized by local monarchists, who douse his gravestone with red paint.

The red paint symbolizes the blood which this evil man spilled, and his involvement in the brutal murder of Nicholas II and his family on 17th July 1918.

PHOTO: Grunberg’s monument to the Holy Royal Martyrs, Church on the Blood

Konstantin Vasilievich Grunberg [born in Sverdlovsk in 1944] is a famous Russian sculptor who has eight monuments to his credit. Among them is the sculptural composition of the Holy Royal Martyrs situated at the entrance to the Lower Church of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. The composition which was officially unveiled and consecrated on 28th May 2003, depicts the Imperial Family descending the 23 steps in the basement of the Ipatiev House, where they met their death and martyrdom on 17th July 1918.

© Paul Gilbert. 15 January 2022

Moscow to host conference on Imperial Family’s murder

On 28th November 2021, the international scientific conference “Secrets of the Murder of the Royal Martyrs. New Materials of the Investigation and Independent Examinations,” will be held in the large congress hall of the Cosmos Hotel in Moscow.

The conference is a joint project of three Orthodox foundations in pursuance of the resolutions of the Councils of Bishops in 2016 and 2017, which provide for a broad public discussion of the materials of a comprehensive examination of the investigation, which were carried out between 2015 to 2021.

The conference will be attended by more than 15 scientists involved in the process of studying the Ekaterinburg Remains, currently interred in the Catherine Chapel, a side chapel of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Each speaker will be alloted 15-20 minutes.

The first cohort of specialists consists of “experts of modern investigation”: forensic physician, doctor of medical sciences, professor Vyachesl av Popov, forensic physician, doctor of medical sciences, professor Vladimir Trezubov, geneticist, doctor of biological sciences Yevgeny Rogaev, anthropologist, candidate of biological sciences Denis Pezhemsky , forensic doctors, Doctor of Medical Sciences Viktor Z vyagin and Sergey Nikitin, Doctor of Historical Sciences Lyudmila Lykova, Candidate of Historical Sciences, Associate Professor Evgeny Pchelov. The participation of the investigator V. Soloviev and M. Molodtsova is also expected.

The second cohort of conference participants includes “independent experts”: forensic expert, candidate of medical sciences Yuri Grigoriev, forensic medical expert-criminalist, candidate of medical sciences Konstantin Teplov, dentist-orthopedist of the highest category Emil Agadzhanyan, doctor of historical sciences , professor at the Sorbonne Andrey P Achinsk th (France), Candidate of Historical Sciences Peter Valentinovich Multatuli, historians Leonid Bolotin, Inn and Simon, Mark Knyazev, a lawyer, a doctor juridich Sgiach Science Mikhail l Kuznetsov, a lawyer, PhD in law, Ph.D. George Shayryan.

The organizers of the conference are President of the St. Basil the Great Russian Educational Foundation Vasily Boyko, Chairman of the Women’s Orthodox Patriotic Society of the Patriarch Hermogenes Foundation Galina Ananyina, Director of the International Foundation for Slavic Writing and Culture Aleksander Bochkarev.

NOTE: the conference will be telecast LIVE [in Russian] at 6:00 am EST on 28th November.
CLICK on the image below to set a REMINDER

© Paul Gilbert. 26 November 2021

“ROC will not recognize Ekaterinburg remains,” claims prominent Russian forensic scientist

PHOTO: Vladimir Soloviev the State Archives of the Russian Federation in Moscow

A very troubling interview was published in today’s edition of Бизнес Online [Business Online], whereby legendary forensic scientist Vladimir Soloviev stated: “there will no recognition of the Ekaterinburg remains in November by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).” Below, is a condensed version of the interview.

Now retired, Vladimir Nikolaevich Soloviev, 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. Over the years, the case of the Ekaterinburg remains took up much of his professional career.

BO: Do you know what is happening today with the ROC’s investigation?

VS: All work on the identification of the Ekaterinburg remains was completed a long time ago. As far as I know, a historical examination is still underway. But this can be carried out indefinitely.

Marina Molodtsova, who heads the investigation team today, is a good and qualified specialist. I have no issues with her. But, she is a person of the system. If she is issued an order – she salutes. Putin gave carte blanche to the patriarch, and until such time that the president gives an order for closure, the investigation will continue.

BO: At the end of June, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to submit the results of the examinations on the identification of Ekaterinburg remains for consideration by the Bishops’ Council, which is to be held in November. But, frankly, after everything that has happened during the last 30 years, it is hard to believe that the issue of recognizing the remains will be resolved this year.

VS: I can’t believe it either, and there will be no recognition of the Ekaterinburg remains by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, when they meet in November. Patriarch Kirill is a very proud person. He would have to explain in front of everyone why the Lord does not love him, why he did not enlighten him during these 30 years. After all this time, Kirill was against the recognition of the remains. He was, in fact, the main ideologist of this position. Vsevolod Chaplin (1968-2020), shortly before his death, told me about a conversation he had with the Patriarch. According to Chaplin, Kirill told him that he would do anything to avoid resolving the issue of the Ekaterinburg remains during his life.

I foresee that at the Bishop’s Council they will say that the church is not completely satisfied with the results of the research and investigation, and that something is missing, yet . . . again!

BO: In an interview given to me a few days before his death, Geliy Trofimovich Ryabov (1932-2015), bitterly said: “When I decided to make our discovery public [grave of Nicholas II and family members in 1991], I naively believed that it would contribute to reconciliation, by bringing closure to our country’s history. But I did not take into account that this war would be permanent. At a certain moment, I came to the conclusion that if I knew how all this would turn out, I probably would not have disclosed the burial place of the Imperial Family.” Have you ever had such thoughts, or regrets that you got involved in this, as it is now obvious is hopeless?

VS: Of course, in terms of career, I resigned, so to speak, but not on a high note. First of all, of course, the church and the church community did their best to discredit me. They accused me of anything! But, if there was an opportunity to go back in time, 30 years ago, I would do it all over again.

I will say, however, that perhaps it was good that this case has been dragging on for as long as it has. If it was completed within the “normal” time frame and the remains were immediately buried, the image of the Imperial Family would have quickly faded away, come to naught. It is thanks to all these scandals that their tragic fate received so much attention by so many scientists and experts.

© Paul Gilbert. 18 July 2021

Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg 2021

PHOTO: members of the Double-Headed Eagle Society carry an icon of the Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II on the square in front of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

On the night of 16/17 July, a Divine Liturgy in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, took place on the square in front of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. The Divine Liturgy and Cross Procession are the highlights of the annual Tsar’s Days held in the Ural capital.

Traditionally, several tens of thousands of people participate in the Tsar’s Cross Procession – 10 thousand in 2020 [due to COVID], 60 thousand in 2019 and 100 thousand in 2018 [100th anniversary]. Despite the pandemic, an estimated 3 thousand Orthodox Christians and monarchists took part in this year’s Divine Liturgy.

PHOTO: on the night of 16th July 2021, an estimated 3 thousand pilgrims attended the Divine Liturgy at the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

In addition, the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs was honoured with Divine Liturgies held in Orthodox churches across Russia and around the world. In addition, many people lit candles in front of icons, while offering prayers in the privacy of their homes around the globe. The author of this article was one of them.

The Divine Liturgy was led by eight bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church: Metropolitan Eugene of Yekaterinburg and Verkhotursky, Metropolitan of Tashkent and Uzbekistan Vikentiy, Metropolitan of Chelyabinsk and Miassky Alexy, Bishop of Orsk and Gaysky Irenaeus, Bishop of Isilkul and Russian-Polyansky, Bishop Theodosius of Nizhny Novgorod and Nizhny-Polyan Kamyshlovsky Methodius, Bishop of Zlatoust and Satka Vincent.

PHOTO: Orthodox Christians gather on the square in front of the Church on the Blood to honour the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs

Metropolitan Eugene addressed the faithful, who had assembled on the square in front of the church:

“The sacred, solemn, tragic, joyful night has come, which we call the Tsar’s night within the Tsar’s Days. A night that combines in itself the tragedy of Good Friday, the Gethsemane struggle that the Holy Royal Martyrs experienced at this place. And on the same night, the great joy of the Resurrection of Christ and the glory into which the Holy Royal Martyrs entered from this place is revealed. All this is experienced very closely by every person, and we have the opportunity to draw here both the hope of the resurrection and our strength to endure these Gethsemane temptations.

“At this time 103 years ago, the August Family, having prayed to God, saying: “In Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit,” just like we do when to go to sleep. And after a few minutes, footsteps sounded along the corridors, they began to be raised, woken up and taken to the basement. We know today what glory it ended with. And I would like to wish everyone to be inspired by their faith, humility and patience,” – said Metropolitan Eugene.

The night service was broadcast live by the Soyuz Orthodox TV channel to 87 countries around the world. You can watch the Divine Liturgy in its entirety, by clicking on the VIDEO below, duration 2 hours and 41 minutes:

Vladyka conveyed to the participants in the Divine Liturgy the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill to be attentive to each other and to observe all the necessary health and safety measures during the pandemic. He called on everyone to pray for the sick and also for their doctors. Metropolitan Eugene also emphasized, that when the Cross Procession to Ganina Yama begins, “I will put on a mask and, which I hope, will set a good example so that we all show humility – this is our discipline, this is our strength.”

Following the Divine Liturgy, a Cross Procession took place from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama. Pilgrims follow the route in which the bodies of the Imperial Family were transported to Ganina Yama – a distance of 26 km (16 miles), taking about four to five hours to walk on foot.

PHOTO: in the early morning hours of 17th July 2021, an estimated 2 thousand pilgrims participated in a Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

Due to the fact that the Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region cancelled this years Cross Procession (due to the COVID situation), the head of the Ekaterinburg Diocese, Metropolitan Eugene of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky defied the order, and led 2 thousand believers on today’s Cross Procession to Ganina Yama. This year, however, the roads were not closed to traffic, forcing the pilgrims to walk on narrow sidewalks and the shoulder of the highway to safely make the journey.

PHOTO: pilgrims arrive on foot at the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama, after walking a distance of 26 km (16 miles) from the Church on the Blood, a journey taking about four to five hours

At approximately 6:30 am, another Divine Liturgy was performed at Mine No. 7, where the bodies of members of the Imperial Family and their loyal servants were thrown into the mineshaft by their killers. More than 80 clergymen prayed together with the arch-pastors of the Russian Orthodox Church.

PHOTO: Divine Liturgy was led by Metropolitan Eugene of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye at the Cross, erected over Mine No. 4, where the bodies of the Holy Royal Martyrs were thrown by their killers into an abandoned mine

The Divine Liturgy was led by Metropolitan Eugene of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, Metropolitan of Tashkent and Uzbekistan Vikenty, Bishop of Isilkul and Russian-Polyansky Theodosius, Bishop of Nizhny Tagil and Nevyansk Theodosius.

Holy Royal Martyrs, pray to God for us! 🙏
Святы Царственные мученики, молите Бога о нас! 🙏

© Paul Gilbert. 17 July 2021

The last divine service for the Imperial Family in Ekaterinburg

On this day – 14th July (O.S. 1st July) 1918 – the last divine service was held for the Imperial Family in Ekaterinburg

In October 1918 – three months after the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family – Fr. John Storozhev, recalls this service in the Ipatiev House on 14th July (O.S. 1st July) :

“… Taking up our [Fr. John Storozhev and Deacon Vasily Buimirov] places, the deacon and I began the reader’s service [similar to a liturgy, but much shorter since it does not include the Eucharist]. At a certain moment in the service, it is required to read the prayer “With the Saints Give Rest”. For some reason, on this particular occasion, the deacon, instead of reading, sang the prayer, and I, too, began to sing, somewhat disconcerted by this departure from the customary practice. But we had scarcely begun when I heard the members of the Romanov family, standing behind us, fell to their knees, and here I suddenly felt the sublime spiritual comfort that comes from shared prayer.

“This experience was even stronger when, at the end of the service, I read a prayer to the Mother of God, which, in highly poetic and moving words, expressed the plea of the afflicted person to be supported in his sorrows and receive the strength to bear his cross worthily.

“In addition, the deacon recited the Ectenia [often called by the better known English word litany], and I sang. Two of the grand duchesses sang along with me, and sometimes Nicholas Aleksandrovich sang in a low bass (for instance, he sang the “Our Father” and some other things). The service was uplifting and good, and the family prayed fervently.

“The Tsar was clad in a khaki tunic and trousers with tall boots. On his chest he wore a St. George’s Cross. He had no shoulder boards [epaulettes]. He impressed me with his firm gait, his calmness. and especially his manner of looking steadfastly and firmly into one’s eyes. I didn’t notice any fatigue or traces of low spirits in him. It seemed to me that he had barely visible gray hair in his beard. His beard had been longer and wider when I saw him the first time. It seemed to me now to be trimmed.

“After the service, everyone approached the cross and the deacon handed prosphora [a small loaf of leavened bread used in Orthodox liturgies] to Nicholas Alexandrovich and Alexandra Feodorovna. Upon departing, I walked very close to the former grand duchesses, and heard a whispered “Thank you”. I don’t think it was just my imagination

“The deacon and I were silent until we reached the Art School building, and here, suddenly, he said to me: “You know, father, something’s changed there. Something’s happened”. His words struck a chord with me, and I stopped and asked why he he had gotten that impression. “Well, they were all different somehow. And also nobody sang.” And I have to say that, truly, this service of 14/1 July was the only one at which none of the Romanov’s sang with us (and the deacon had been present at all five services at the Ipatiev House).”

Source: The Last Sacred Service Observed by the Imperial Family in Yekaterinburg. The Testimony of Archpriest Ioann Vladimirovich Storozhev. First English translation published in Sovereign No. 6 (2018) , pg. 129-140

© Paul Gilbert. 14 July 2021

Ekaterinburg’s annual Tsar’s Cross Procession cancelled

PHOTO: tens of thousands participate in the annual Cross Procession in Ekaterburg

The Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region Yevgeny Kuyvashev announced today, that the traditional Tsar’s Cross Procession, which is held annually in Ekaterinburg on the anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, has been cancelled due to a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the region.

In the past four days, more than 300 new cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in the region every day. Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, more than 96 thousand people contracted the virus in Ekaterinburg and the Sverdlovsk region, 3.9 thousand of whom died. Russia is now experiencing a third wave and ranks fifth in the highest number of cases. More than 5.6 million cases have been recorded in Russia with more than 138 thousand deaths.

“This year the Cross Procession during Tsar’s days will not be held … The new strain t hat is spreading throughout the region is even more dangerous. Many more people are now in need of oxygen, the hospitals are filled to capacity. Therefore, we are cancelling the procession this year,” the governor stated.

Kuyvashev also published a photo from last year’s procession, in which, according to the Ekaterinburg Diocese, only 10 thousand people participated. The governor noted that despite the pandemic, many of the pilgrims did not use masks and did not practice social distancing. As a result, many of those who participated in last years’ Cross Procession, fell ill with the coronavirus shortly thereafter. He stressed that next year, providing the pandemic has been eliminated, it will be possible to hold a procession “on an even larger scale than before.”

Traditionally, several tens of thousands of people participate in the Tsar’s Cross Procession in the Ural city – 60 thousand in 2019 and 100 thousand in 2018. The procession follows the same route that the regicides carried the murdered remains of the Imperial Family and their faithful servants to an abandoned mine at Ganina Yama. The procession does not go to Porosnkov Log, where the regicides buried them in a second unmarked grave. The route of the procession begins at the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama – a distance of 26 km (16 miles), taking about four to five hours to walk on foot.

PHOTO: Metropolitan Evgeny of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky

The head of the Ekaterinburg Diocese, Metropolitan Evgeny of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky was quick to respond to the governor’s announcement, by writing in his Telegram page about the importance of upholding the tradition of the Tsar’s Cross Procession, sacred to many Orthodox Christians and monarchists, and about the choice of each of us in a situation where there can be no ideal solutions.

“The tradition of the Tsar’s Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood to Ganina Yama has outgrown the framework of the so-called Tsar’s Days events and has become sacred for tens of thousands of people. And now people will continue to follow the holy path. But, will they walk along safely blocked streets? Or on narrow sidewalks next to dangerously speeding cars? Time will tell.

“In the current pandemic situation, there are no perfect solutions. Everyone must independently find a balance between courage and fear, responsibility and caution.

I will definitely go!”, declared Vladyka Yevgeny.

“The decision of the authorities, who have cancelled this years Tsar’s Cross Procession, is well founded, however, one should not stigmatize believers as the culprits of the spread of the coronavirus.

“Our goal is not death from fear of the coronavirus or from the coronavirus itself, but life with God and love for our neighbours.

“I urge everyone to take maximum precautions to protect themselves and of those around them. I pray that the Lord will preserve all of us in health and long life, and I bless you to add caution and love for your dearest to your prayer” Vladyka Yevgeny concluded.

© Paul Gilbert. 8 July 2021

30th anniversary of the exhumation of the remains of Nicholas II and his family

PHOTO: Avdonin and his team excavate the burial site at Porosenkov Log in 1991

WARNING: please be aware that this post includes graphic images which some readers may find disturbing.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the exhumation of the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family, discovered at Porosenkov Log in 1979. The Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local Lore in Ekaterinburg have published archival photos of the excavations, which were not carried out until 1991.

The photos show the excavations, which were initiated in the Porosenkov Log area on the Old Koptyakovskaya Road on 11th July 1991. Geologist Alexander Nikolaevich Avdonin and curator from the Institute of History and Archaeology of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Lyudmila Koryakova and their team experts, all participated in the exhumation of the skeletons, which, were later established as the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, their three daughters Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia and their four faithful retainers.

PHOTO: Avdonin and his team excavate the burial site at Porosenkov Log in 1991

According to the museum “1991 was a turning point for Russia” and “the country’s political future was uncertain.” On 12th June 1991, the presidential elections of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) were held, which was won by Boris Yeltsin – Russia’s first president. It was at this point that “more than 70 years of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was coming to an end.” This is what prompted Avdonin to initiate excavations.

It was in 1979, that Avdonin and Gely Trofimovich Ryabov (1932-2015) discovered the unmarked grave containing the skeletons of the Romanovs in the north-western outskirts of Sverdlovsk. At first Avdonin believed that the time was not yet right to announce their discovery, however, Yeltsin’s victory convinced him that it was high time. On 10th July 1991, he turned to Governor Eduard Rossel and said that he knew where the remains of the Imperial Family were buried.

PHOTO: remains of the Imperial Family exhumed from the burial site at Porosenkov Log in 1991

Despite the fact that the political situation in Russia seemed extremely unstable, Rossel decided to exhume the remains. On 11th July 1991, Avdonin and Rossel assembled a team of local archaeologists, who began the excavation of the grave at Porosenkov Log. Upon the discovery of the remains, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation opened a criminal case. The outcome of the investigation divided many Russian Orthodox Christians – some of whom recognized the authenticity of the remains, while many others did not. The investigations and examinations are still ongoing, however a final decision on the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg remains will be made by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which will take place in November of this year.

PHOTO: Alexander Avdonin (right) with Nikolai Borisovich Neuymin, director of the Romanov Memorial Hall in Ekaterinburg, standing at the burial site at Porosenkov Log

Emperor Nicholas II and his family were all shot in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg on the night of 16/17 July 1918. The bodies were taken out of the city, where their murderers attempted to destroy the remains with fire and acid in the area of ​​old mines in the Ganina Yama tract. Their horrific mission failed, after which the remains were transported 3.8 km and buried near the Old Koptyakovskaya Road [Porosenkov Log]. The grave remained a secret until 1979, when the remains were found by a team of enthusiasts led by the Ural geologist Alexander Avdonin, who worked under the patronage of Geliy Ryabov, at that time assistant to the head of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs.

It was not possible to extract and study the remains at that time. Avdonin’s team, together with archaeologists, did this in 1991, only to discover that two skeletons were missing. It was not until 2007, that the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria, were discovered in a second grave just meters from the main burial site.

© Paul Gilbert. 7 July 2021

Nicholas II’s grave was an “open secret” in Soviet Russia during the 1920s

PHOTO: the remains of Nicholas II, his wife, three of their children and their four faithful retainers were buried under the “sleepers bridge” at Porosenkov Log by their murderers in 1918

We hid them so well that the world will never find them,” boasted Commissar for Supply in the Ural Region Soviet Pyotr Lazarevich Voykov (1888-1927), on the location of the murdered remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

While the burial site of the Imperial Family at Porosenkov Log remained a secret to the world for more than 60 years, it was in fact an “open secret”[1] to a select few in the Soviet Union in the 1920s.

In January 1928 – ten years after the murders of Emperor Nicholas II, his family and four faithful retainers – the famous Soviet poet Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky (1893-1930) visited Sverdlovsk. It was at the city’s Business Club that he met the Chairman of the Ekaterinburg City Executive Committee Anatoly Ivanovich Paramonov (1891-1970), making enquiries about the city and the last days of the Imperial Family.

Paramonov took Mayakovsky to the Ipatiev House, and then in minus 30-degree frost, along the Old Koptyaki Road to the place where the remains of the Imperial Family had been buried by their murderers – members of the Ural Soviet on 17th July 1918.

“Of course, it was nothing special – to see the grave of the tsar. In fact, nothing is visible there. It is very difficult to find as there are no signs or marks, this secret place is familiar only to a certain group of people,” Mayakovsky wrote in his diary.

PHOTO: Vladimir Mayakovsky and Anatoly Paramonov

Three months after his trip to the Urals, Mayakovsky wrote the mockingly pathetic poem The Emperor, which indicated the place of burial with absolute toponymic accuracy. In his poem, Mayakovsky reveals clues: “Beyond the Iset [river], where the wind howled, the executive committee coachman fell silent and stood at the ninth verst.”[2] “Beyond Iset at the ninth verst” is a key clue that indicated where to look for the tsar’s grave on the Old Koptyaki Road. The poem further notes: “Here the cedar was torn with an ax, notches under the root of the bark, at the root, under the cedar, there is a road, and in it the emperor is buried.”

The Emperor was published in the Soviet literary magazine Krasnaya Nov on 4th April 1928. Mayakovsky’s poem made a terrible impression on the Russian/Soviet poet Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva (1892-1941). She deplored Mayakovsky’s justification of the terrible massacre, as a kind of verdict of history. She insisted that the poet should be on the side of the victims, not the executioners, and if the story is cruel and unfair, he must speak against it. In 1929, in response, she began working on a poem about the Tsar’s Family entitled Heart and Stone.

Mayakovsky’s poem, as well as other evidence such as the “Yurovsky note”, helped Soviet and Russian geologist Alexander Nikolayevich Avdonin and Soviet writer and filmmaker Geliy Trofimovich Ryabov (1932-2015) locate the remains of the Imperial Family in 1979[3].

PHOTO: Pyotr Voykov and Boris Kowerda

In 1926, Mayakovsky visited Voykov in Warsaw, where the latter served as Soviet Ambassador to Poland. It was during this visit that Voykov told Mayakovsky about the regicide which took place in Ekaterinburg. Voykov was assassinated in Warsaw on 7th June 1927, by Boris Sofronovich Kowerda (1907-1987) a White émigré and monarchist. Kowerda planned to kill Voykov in order to “Avenge Russia, and the deaths of millions of people”, as well for Voykov’s participation in the decision to execute Nicholas II and his family.

Declassified photographs taken by members of the firing squad, as well as those who did not participate in the regicide, but who knew of the location of burial site, aided Paramonov and Mayakovsky to locate the “sleepers bridge” (see photo below).

The murderer Pyotr Zakharovich Ermakov (1884-1952) used a Mauser pistol[4], during the liquidation of the Imperial Family in the basement of the Ipatiev House. He brought it with him to the place where the bodies lay so that he could be photographed (see photo below).

“In the first half of the 1960s, one of the sons of the murderers applied to the Central Committee of the Communist Party with a letter addressed to the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev (1894-1971), boasting that his father had participated in the murder of the Imperial Family. He presented Khrushchev with two pistols that he had preserved: one for the Soviet leader, the other – to be handed over to Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro (1926-2016) as the leader of the world revolution. At that time, documents in all the archives were still sealed, yet two of the executioners were still alive. And for history, the Radio Committee recorded their memories, which had been preserved and “coincided with those of Yakov Mikhailovich Yurovsky” (1878-1938), said Sergei Mironenko, Director of the State Archives of the Russian Federation [GARF} in Moscow.

Yurovsky served as commandant of the “House of Special Purpose” [Ipatiev House], and the chief executioner of the Tsar and his family. But his memories raised a lot of questions – some historians believe that the typewritten text may have been specially falsified by the GPU-NKVD-KGB, in order to send future search efforts on the wrong track, or a story written by a third party, such as the Soviet historian Mikhail Nikolayevich Pokrovsky[5].

PHOTO: in the 1920s, the murderer Pyotr Zakharovich Yermakov returned to Porosenkov Log. On the reverse of this photo, he wrote: “I am standing on the grave of the Tsar”.

According to Vladimir Nikolaevich Solovyov, 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 death of the imperial family, “the real breakthrough was made quite recently”.

Shortly after the completion of the work of the government commission, a safe was discovered in another archive, not in the State Archive, but in the former Central Party Archive, which had not been opened for many decades. It contained a manuscript of the famous Soviet historian Mikhail Nikolayevich Pokrovsky (1868-1932), a typewritten copy of which is kept in the State Archive. The discovery immediately confirmed that this is Yurovsky’s recollection, recorded by Pokrovsky. According to Sergei Mironenko, the bottom of the last page of the manuscript had been torn off. Apparently, it contained the name of the place where the bodies were hidden. So there is no evidence? There is! As shown by the graphological examination, handwritten by Pokrovsky and Yurovsky, the name was entered into the typewritten version, the authenticity of which is considered beyond any doubt.

“Interestingly, at the end of the classic text of Yurovsky’s note, there is an addition, made in pencil, which precisely indicates the place where the bodies were found,” said Solovyov.

PHOTO: Pyotr Zakharovich Yermakov (far right) posing with a group of prominent Ural Bolsheviks on the Tsar’s grave[6], his Mauser pistol can be seen in the foreground in front of P.M. Bykov, author of The Last Days of Tsardom (1934)

There has always been a mystique behind this story. A 1991 diagram clearly shows the location of the bodies. Their remains were not laid, but simply dumped by their murderers. For example, Olga’s skull is under the skeleton of her father. But even in the photo of the burial site, opened in 1991, a telephone cable is clearly visible. When laying it, the cutter even cut off the arm of one of the skeletons. But how could the Soviet telephone technicians know where they were laying the cable, because even if they had read Mayakovsky’s poem, the instructions were too obscure for them to link it to the burial site.

One more detail – small but important. According to Mayakovsky’s poem, he wrote about “the cedar was torn with an axe”. During a comprehensive survey of the area, a fallen stump, clearly cut long ago with an axe was found.

PHOTO: Mayakovsky’s photo pinned to a tree at Porosenkov Log


[1] An “open secret” is a concept or idea that is “officially” secret or restricted in knowledge, but in practice (de facto) may be widely known; or it refers to something that is widely known to be true but which none of the people most intimately concerned are willing to categorically acknowledge in public.

[2] A verst is a Russian measure of length, about 0.66 mile (1.1 km).

[3] The remains of the Imperial Family were first discarded at the Four Brothers Mine, which is today the site of the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama. Avdonin and Ryabov discovered the second grave 3.8 km down the highway at Porosenkov Log.

[4] Yermakov’s revolver can be seen on display in the Romanov Memorial Hall, located on the top floor of the Museum of History and Archaeology of the Urals, in Ekaterinburg

[5] Pokrovsky was a Russian Marxist historian, Bolshevik revolutionary and a public and political figure. One of the earliest professionally trained historians to join the Russian revolutionary movement, Pokrovsky is regarded as the most influential Soviet historian of the 1920s.

His attitude to the tsar, the nobility, generals, statesmen and church leaders and diplomats of the Tsarist period appear in the Pokrovsky’s works in a completely different light – as selfish, cruel, limited, ignorant individuals. To achieve greater impact on the reader, representatives of the ruling classes and leaders were denounced with the help of satire, irony and grotesque. Thus, Pokrovsky’s negative assessment of the reign of Nicholas II was accepted as the standard in the Soviet Union, where he was vilified.

[6] Group of prominent Ural Bolsheviks, photographed at the “grave of the Romanovs”, 1924. This photo is on display in the Romanov Memorial Hall, located on the top floor of the Museum of History and Archaeology of the Urals, in Ekaterinburg

(from left to right): back row – A.I. Paramonov (chairman of the board of Uralselkhozbank and editor of Krestyanskaya Gazeta, *NN, M.M. Kharitonov (first secretary of the Ural regional committee of the RCP (b)), B.V. Didkovsky (deputy chairman of Uralplan), I.P. Rumyantsev (head of propaganda department), *NN, A.L. Borchaninov (chairman of the Tyumen regional executive committee); front row – D.E.Sulimov (chairman of the Ural regional executive committee), G.S. Moroz (head of the Yekaterinburg department of the GPU), M.V. Vasiliev (employee of Uralselkhozbank), P.M.Bykov (editor of the newspaper “Uralskaya Nov”), A.G. Kabanov, P.Z.Ermakov (employee of the Cheka)

*NN denotes “unknown identity”

© Paul Gilbert. 6 July 2021

Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg celebrates its Patronal Feast Day

PHOTO: monument to the Holy Royal Martyrs, set against the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

On 4th July 2021, the Church on the Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land, celebrates its patronal holiday.

The Church-Monument on the Blood was erected on the site of the martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II, his August family and their four faithful retainers.

At the end of 1878, a mining official, State Councillor Ivan Ivanovich Redikortsev, built a two-story stone mansion on a hill near the Church of the Ascension of the Lord. In 1908, the house was bought by a military civil engineer Nikolai Nikolayevich Ipatiev (1869-1938).

On the night of 16/17 July 1918, Emperor Nicholas II, his family and four faithful retainers were brutally murdered in the basement of the Ipatiev House. Following the regicide the house was returned to Ipatiev, who then sold the mansion to representatives of the White Army.

On 4th August 1975, a secret resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU No.P185 / 34 “On the demolition of the Ipatiev mansion in the city of Sverdlovsk” was adopted.

The Ipatiev House was demolished on 22-23 September 1977 by Russia’s future president Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007), who was at the time First Secretary of the Sverdlovsk Regional Committee of the CPSU.

On 20th September 1990, the Sverdlovsk Soviet decided to transfer the land on the western slope of the Voznesenskaya Gorka to the Ekaterinburg diocese.

On 10th October 1990, the City Executive Committee made a decision to install “a memorial symbol at the site of the murder of the Tsar’s family.” In the same month, Archbishop Melchizedek of Sverdlovsk and Verkhoturye consecrated an Orthodox Cross on the site.

On 28th December 1993, a blessing was received for the construction of the church. A state commission was gathered and architectural as well as funding plans were developed.

On 19th May 1994, with the blessing of Nikon, Bishop of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, a chapel canopy was erected over the cross, crowned with a dome and cross.

On 4th April 2000, Archbishop Vikentiy of Yekaterinburg and Verkhotursky performed a requiem for the Tsar’s family and a Divine Liturgy at the construction site of the church. In August 2000, at the jubilee Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, the Tsar’s family was glorified as a passion-bearers.

Click HERE to read my article Excavations at the site of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg in the early 2000s, published on 24th October 2020

On 23rd September of the same year, His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow and All Russia (1929-2008) laid a memorial capsule in the eastern wall of the foundation of the future church. The construction of the Church on the Blood was completed in 2003.

The completed complex comprises two churches, a belfry, a patriarchal annex, and a museum dedicated to the former imperial family; the altar of the main five-domed church, made in the Russian-Byzantine style, is directly over the site of the Romanovs’ murder. The complex covers a total of 29,700 square feet (2,760 m2).

On 16th July 2003, the upper church was consecrated in honour of All the saints who shone in the Russian land. On 18th April 2010, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia consecrated the Lower Church in honour of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers.

PHOTO: beautiful mosaic panel depicting the Holy Royal Martyrs on the wall of the Imperial Room, located in the Lower Church of the Church on the Blood

The central altar of the Lower Church is consecrated in honour of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. In the south-eastern part of the Lower Church is the Imperial Room, which contains an altar in honour of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers and their faithful servants who were martyred on this spot.

© Paul Gilbert. 4 July 2021

Faithful to the End: Klimenty Nagorny and Ivan Sednev 


Klimenty Grigorievich Nagorny (left). and Ivan Dmitriyevich Sednev (right)

Today – 28th June 2021, marks the 103rd anniversary of the death and martyrdom of two faithful servants to Emperor Nicholas II and his family – Klimenty Grigorievich Nagorny and Ivan Dmitriyevich Sednev. 

Klimenty Nagorny and Ivan Sednev selflessly served the Tsar’s children. Nagorny in particular, lay the great responsibility of protecting the Tsesarevich, even the slightest injury could put the heir to the Russian throne in danger, due to his hemophilia. Alexei was very fond of Nagorny, who in turn showed complete devotion to the Tsesarevich, faithfully sharing with him all the joys and sorrows.


Nagorny and Tsesarevich Alexei in Tsarskoe Selo, 1907

Klimenty Nagorny and Ivan Sednev voluntarily stayed with the Tsar’s family during their house arrest in Tsarskoe Selo, and then followed them to Tobolsk, where Nagorny shared a room with the Tsesarevich, serving him day and night. Together with the Imperial family, Nagorny also attended all the divine services, and the only member of the family’s retinue who was a member of the choir organized by the Empress: he sang and read for the Imperial family during services held in the house church.

In the spring of 1918 Nagorny and Sednev once again, voluntarily followed the Imperial family to Ekaterinburg. They spent only a few days in the Ipatiev House, and then were separated from the Imperial prisoners. They were arrested and imprisoned, their sole crime had been their inability to hide their indignation on seeing the Bolshevik commissaries seize the little gold chain from which the holy images hung over the sick bed of the Tsesarevich.

On 28th June 1918, they were shot in the back by the Bolsheviks, in a small wooded area behind the Yekaterinburg-2 railway station (modern name – Shartash). Nagorny and Sednev were “killed for betraying the cause of the revolution” – as indicated in the resolution on their execution. The murderers left their bodies unburied.

When Ekaterinburg was occupied by the Whites, the the half-decayed bodies of Nagorny and Sednev, were found and solemnly buried near the Church of All the Afflicted (demolished). Witnesses at the funeral recall that the graves of the former sailors of the Imperial Yacht Standart were strewn with white flowers. Their graves were not preserved – they were destroyed when the Soviet authorities built a city park on the site of the cemetery.

Both Nagorny and Sednev were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) on 14 November 1981, and both rehabilitated by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation on 16 October 2009. They have yet to be canonized by the Moscow Patriarchate. 

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!


Sednev and Alexeei Nikolaevich, in the Finnish skerries, 1914 

Nagorny, Klementy Grigorovich (1887—1918) – from 1909, he served on the Imperial yacht Standart and appointed as a footman to the imperial children. He received the Court title Garderobshik (wardrobe keeper) in 1909 and accompanied the Imperial family on every tour. In November 1913, he was appointed assistant dyadka to guard the Imperial children. He travelled with the Tsesarevich Alexei to Mogilev during 1914-16. After the Tsar’s abdication, he lived under detention with the Imperial family in Tsarskoe Selo, Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg.

Sednev, Ivan Dmitrievich (1881—1918) – was recruited into the Russian Imperial Navy in 1911, where he began as a machinist on the Imperial Yacht Polyarnaya Zvezda (Polar Star) then transferred onto the Imperial yacht Standart. By invitation he became a Lakei (liveried footman) to the Grand Duchesses, and subsequently to the Tsesarevich. Ivan lived under detention with the Imperial family in Tsarskoe Selo, Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg.

© Paul Gilbert. 28 June 2021