Nicholas II, the Union of the Russian People and the Black Hundreds

History tells us of the assassination and murder by revolutionaries of ministers and other government officials during the reign of Russia’s last tsar Nicholas II, however, there were a number of powerful counter-revolutionary political organizations and groups who carried out their own campaigns after the 1905 Revolution.

The most popular among them were the Union of the Russian People (URP), known not just for their anti-socialist, anti-liberal, and anti-Semitic views. but also for standing up against revolutionaries in defence of the monarchy and the Tsar.

The Union of the Russian People (URP) was a loyalist right-wing nationalist political party, the largest among the Black Hundreds monarchist political organizations in the Russian Empire between 1905 and 1917.

Who, making prayer, honours the people and the Tsar, in whom neither conscience nor mind staggers, who saves Russia from troubles under a hail of slander, he is called the Black Hundred!

For Faith, Tsar and Fatherland!

Orthodoxy! Autocracy! Nationality!

Holy Russia, keep the Orthodox faith, in it is your affirmation!

The movement was founded in October 1905, by two minor government officials Alexander Dubrovin (see below) and Vladimir Purishkevich, who participated in the killing of Grigori Rasputin in 1916. The URP’s aim was to rally the Russian people behind nationalism and the Tsar. By 1906 it had over 300,000 members. Its paramilitary armed bands, called the Black Hundreds, fought revolutionaries violently in the streets. Its leaders organised a series of political assassinations of deputies and other representatives of parties which supported the Russian Revolution of 1905.

Monarchy is an idea, a moral idea, that is, the idea of ​​harmony and justice, honesty and decency, trust and respect of people for each other. The monarchy is based on the best qualities of the human conscience and strives to maximize human self-realization, not as a unit of the electorate, but as a highly spiritual and self-sufficient person. A monarchist will not agree that the state should be ruled by a politician, instead he will prefer a person who has been trained and educated to rule. 

In his book “Manual of the Monarchist – Black Hundreds” (1906), the founder of the Black Hundreds Vladimir Andreevich Gringmut (1851-1907) wrote: “The enemies of the autocracy called the “Black Hundreds” simple Russian people, which during the armed revolt of 1905 stood up and defended the autocratic Tsar. Is this an honourable name, “Black Hundred”? Yes, very honourable!”

In 1905, the Union of the Russian People was established to protect the Faith, Tsar and Fatherland from godless revolutionaries The emergence of the Union of the Russian People in the fall of 1905, when all major cities of the Russian Empire were engulfed in revolutionary unrest, and the murders of the Tsar’s loyal servants had become an almost daily occurrence. Nearly 1000 Black Hundred organizations sprang up across the Empire, calling on the Russian people to stand under the banners bearing the sacred words for any Russian Orthodox patriot: “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality.” Among them were the Society for the Active Struggle against Revolution and Anarchy that emerged in St. Petersburg, the Russian Assembly, the Society of Russian Patriots in Moscow, the Russian Brotherhood in Kiev, the Patriotic Society in Tiflis, the Tsar-People’s Russian Society in Kazan, the People’s Monarchist the party in Saratov, the White Banner Union in Nizhny Novgorod, the People’s Party of Order in Kursk,

The Russian people woke up and all over the country rising up to fight against revolutionary sedition, creating for these purposes numerous national unions, societies and organizations. But the Union of the Russian People had become a truly massive, all-Russian movement, rallying many thousands of Russian patriots under its banners. It is quite symbolic that the Union first declared itself on 4th November (O.S. 22nd October), 1905, on the day of the Feast of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, on the day of overcoming the turmoil of the 17th century.

The first organizational meeting of the Union took place on 21st November (O.S. 4th December) 1905, in  the Mikhailovsky Manege in St. Petersburg. The meeting was attended by more than 20,000 people, including members of the clergy, monarchists, and prominent members of the nobility.

The Union’s Manifesto expressed a ‘plebeian mistrust’ of every political party, as well as the bureaucracy and the intelligentsia. The group looked at these as obstacles to ‘the direct communion between the Tsar and his people’. This struck a deep chord with Nicholas II, who also shared the deep belief in re-establishment of autocratic personal rule, as had existed in the Muscovite state of the 1600s.

PHOTO: John of Kronstadt (1829-1909)

Several prominent members of the Russian Orthodox Church supported the organisation, among them the Imperial family’s close friend and future Orthodox Saint John of Kronstadt (1829-1909), Hieromonk Iliodor (1880-1952), and Hermogenes, Bishop of Tobolsk and Siberia (1858-1918). It also had support from leading members of the Imperial Court and government, including Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich (1856-1929), Alexander Trepov (Prime Minister from 1916-17), and Minister of the Interior Nikolay Maklakov (1871-1918).

Emperor Nicholas II was highly supportive of the Union and patronised it: he wore the badge of the Union, and wished the Union and its leaders ‘total success’ in their efforts to unite what he called ‘loyal Russians’ in defence of the autocracy. The Tsar also gave orders to provide funds for the Union, and the Ministry of the Interior complied by funding the Union’s newspapers.

Following the 1905 Revolution, the Union was horrified by Tsar Nicholas II’s refusal to strike down harshly on the Leftist revolutionaries. The Union, therefore, decided to organise this for the Tsar, and organised paramilitary bands, which came to be known as the ‘Black Hundreds’ by the democrats, to fight revolutionaries in the streets. These militant groups marched through the streets holding in their pockets knives and brass knuckles, and carrying religious symbols such as icons and crosses and imperial ones such as patriotic banners and portraits of Tsar Nicholas II.

PHOTO: «Ру́сское зна́мя» (Russian Banner), newspaper of the URP

On 28th November 1905, the first issue of the printed organ of the Union of the Russian People – the newspaper «Ру́сское зна́мя» (Russian Banner) was published. The newspaper with a very symbolic name soon became the flagship of patriotic journalism, the fighting organ of the Russian resistance to the growing political turmoil.

On 23rd December 1905, Emperor Nicholas II received a deputation of 24 members of the Union of the Russian People, headed by its leader Alexander Ivanovich Dubrovin (born 1855).

During the reception, Fr. Arseny presented the Tsar with an icon of the Archangel Michael, under whose shadow the Union was born, and made a very welcoming speech. Dubrovin read out an address in which he reported to the Tsar about the rapid growth of the Union’s membership throughout the Empire, noting that “the heart of the people sensed that the Union of the Russian People rallied for an important and urgent matter.” The chairman assured the Tsar of the loyalty of members of the organization to him.

In conclusion, Dubrovin presented the Emperor with the insignia of the Union of the Russian People for both Himself and and for his son and Heir Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, asking him to accept them on behalf of the Union. The Emperor, having carefully examined them, received them, thanking Dubrovin. By accepting the insignia, the Tsar and Tsesarevich thus became members of the Union of the Russian People.

Apollon Maikov, who read the address from a group of loyal residents in the capital, fervently concluded: “Sovereign, we will all die for you!” The Tsar, who graciously accepted the deputation, wished the Union of the Russian People to grow and prosper, expressing the hope that with the help of God and the Russian People, He would be able to accomplish a lot for the good of Russia. Thanking everyone, the Tsar praised the monarchists: “Trust in God and trust in Me”. The good news of the highest reception of the Union deputation, the gracious treatment extended by the Sovereign to its members and his acceptance of their insignia as a member of the organization contributed to the further growth of the Union’s ranks and the realization of their activities.

Another significant event in the life of the Union of the Russian People was the solemn consecration of the banner of the Union, which took place on 26th November 1906 on the day of memory of the Holy Great Martyr and Victorious George (consecration of the Church of the Great Martyr. George in Kiev) in the Mikhailovsky Manege in the presence of about 30 thousand supporters. To the general joy of those present at this solemn event, Fr. John of Kronstadt, who, ascending the dais, bowed on all four sides to the people, who, in turn, responded with a low bow to the revered priest. Fr. John spoke to the monarchists, the essence of which was that “as a body without a soul is dead, so Russia is dead without an all-enlightening Orthodox Faith and life-creating Autocratic Power.” Then Bishop Sergius (Stragorodsky) arrived, and the divine service began, culminating in the singing of many years to the Sovereign and the House of Romanov, as well as to the founders and leaders of the Union of the Russian People and eternal memory to all who fell for the Faith, the Tsar and the Fatherland. Having sprinkled the Union banner with holy water, Fr. John of Kronstadt, kissing the banner with reverence, handed it to Dubrovin, after which the Black Hundreds, who were present at the consecration of the banner and banner, swore allegiance to Orthodoxy, Autocracy and the Russian people.

PHOTO: “The days of vengeance have befallen us …
let us repent so that the Lord will not destroy us”
From the Collection of the State Museum of the History of Religion, St. Petersburg

Between 1905-1907, an unknown artist painted “The days of vengeance have befallen us … let us repent so that the Lord will not destroy us”, marking the 1905 revolution and the creation of the Union of the Russian People. The ideological component of the painting is a call to the Russian people to abandon the revolution, to repent for participating in it; protect the tsar and preserve the monarchy, otherwise the wrath of God will overtake Russia and the Russian people will perish.

While many believe that the artist of the painting is unknown, a number of prominent contemporary Russian experts believe with a high degree of probability, that the artist is Apollon Apollonovich Maikov, one of the founders of the Union of the Russian People. His work depicts the founders of the Union of the Russian People, with the inscription

“Now, following the example of angels, the main founders of the Union of the Russian People. In the sacred books it is said that when people deviated into idolatry, God destroyed them”.

In the centre of the painting, under a light conical pillar that rises to the sky, is the Crucifixion . Near the Crucifixion in the same pillar are depicted the Emperor Nicholas II praying to God for the salvation of Russia, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna and their children. Above the Crucifixion there are two soaring angels with a crown in their hands. The light pillar, which rises to the sky and in which the Romanovs are depicted, symbolizes prayer. A conical pillar is connected to a light cloud. The New Testament Trinity is depicted inside the cloud and around it, in the same bright cloud, praying saints… The connection of the pillar and the cloud symbolizes the connection of the prayer of the celestials – the saints and the Imperial family. In the lower part of the picture, around the praying Imperial family, the Black Hundreds defenders of the monarchy with flags of Russia are depicted, among them in the foreground are the founders of the Union of the Russian People. In the center is Hegumen Arseny, who holds the Cross and the Gospel in his hands, next to him is John of Kronstadt, who holds the Cross in his hands; on the right and left sides of them – the remaining 12 founders of the Union of the Russian People: Alexander Dubrovin; Ivan Baranov; Vladimir Purishkevich; Nikolay Oznobishin; Vladimir Gringmut; Prince Alexander Shcherbatov; Pavel Bulatsel; Rostislav Tregubov; Nikolay Zhedenov; Nikolay Bolshakov; Father Iliodor; and Apollon Maikov. Hegumen Arseny and Archpriest John of Kronstadt symbolize the Saviour, and the twelve other founders of the Lord’s disciples are the apostles; who, like angels, protect the autocartic power from the demons- revolutionaries; the revolution itself, according to the author of the picture, is idolatry .

The semi-ring of the Black Hundreds depicted in the picture is surrounded by revolutionaries with red banners. Individual revolutionaries have pistols in their hands, from which they shoot at the Black Hundred monarchists; some of whom fall dead. Fiery bonfires and pools of blood are depicted between monarchists and revolutionaries. Shots, puddles of blood and bonfires symbolize terrorism and the 1905-1907 revolution in Russia. In the upper part of the picture, black clouds are depicted around the light cloud in which the New Testament Trinity is located; lightning bolts are directed from the clouds to the heads of the revolutionaries. Lightning bolts symbolize the wrath of God against the revolutionaries.

The painting today hangs in the State Museum of the History of Religion, St. Petersburg.

PHOTO: Alexander Ivanovich Dubrovin

The Union was dissolved in 1917 in the wake of the Revolution, and its leader, Alexander Ivanovich Dubrovin (born 1855) placed under arrest. There is much debate surrounding Dubrovin’s death. According to one historian Philip Rees, Dubrovin was shot in 1918 for his activities against the October Revolution. A number of other sources however place Dubrovin alive after this date and his actual date of death remains unresolved. It is known that on 21st October 1920, Dubrovin was arrested in Moscow by the Cheka. He was charged as an organizer of pogroms, murders etc. in 1905-1917 when he was the chairman of URP. In their entirety these corpus delicti (components of crime) were qualified under the Criminal Code Article “the counter-revolutionary activity”. No activity after the 1917 Revolution has been incriminated to Dubrovin.

Dubrovin’s files at the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) archives document two consecutive death sentences dated 29th December 1920 and 21st April 1921 which indicates that at least one time Dubrovin’s appeal for amnesty was satisfied. No documental traces of the actual implementation of this sentence were found. Meanwhile, according to the Small Soviet Encyclopedia published in 1929 Dubrovin was still alive by that date.

PHOTO: badge of the Union of the Russian People (URP)

On 22nd November 2004, a meeting to revive the Union of the Russian People (URP) was held in Moscow, chaired by the Russian sculptor Vyacheslav Klykov (1938-2006), famous for his magnificent monument to Emperor Nicholas II in Taininskoye (Mytishchi), which is situated about 19 km northeast of Moscow. The meeting set the groundwork for a modern-day Russian Orthodox – monarchical organization, recreated in 2005 on the basis of the ideology of the pre-revolutionary Union of the Russian People.


Dear Reader: It is always a pleasure for me to present new articles based on my own research from Russian archival sources, offering first English translations of new works from Russian media sources on my Nicholas II blog and Facebook pages. Many of these articles and topics seldom (if ever) attract the attention of the Western media. Please note that I personally translate the articles, and complement them further with additional materials, photographs, videos and links.

If you found this article interesting, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars to my project The Truth About Nicholas II – please note that donations can be made by GoFundMe, PayPal, credit card, personal check or money order, or click HERE to buy one of my Nicholas II calendars – the net proceeds help fund my work. Thank you for your consideration – PG

© Paul Gilbert. 23 November 2020

Exhibition dedicated to Nicholas II opens at Murmansk Airport

A permanent photo exhibition dedicated to Emperor Nicholas II has opened in the terminal building of Murmansk Airport.

The exhibition consists of two parts. The first part contains unique archival documents and photographs about the founding of Romanov-on-Murman, which turned out to be the last city founded during the reign of Nicholas II in 1916.

The second part will tell passengers and visitors to the airport about the history and development of Romanov-on-Murman, which today has grown into Russia’s largest city north of the Arctic Circle – Murmansk [the town was renamed in April 1918].

Deputy Governor of the Murmansk Region Vladimir Evmenkov took part in the opening ceremony of the exposition, who expressed his gratitude to the management of the NOVAPORT holding and the Murmansk airport for the efforts invested in the creation of the exhibition.

Representatives of the Murmansk and Monchegorsk Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, headed by Metropolitan Mitrofan of Murmansk and Monchegorsk, took an active part in its preparation.

Metropolitan Mitrofan sincerely thanked all the airport employees who put a lot of effort into creating the exhibition. He noted that for the Russian Orthodox Church, the life of the last Russian emperor is the life of a saint and it is very important that residents of the Murmansk region and visitors to the Arctic region to acquaint themselves with the historical facts about his life. 

In June 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin officially renamed the country’s airports, including Murmansk Airport, which was renamed in honour of Emperor Nicholas II. An online poll launched in Russia in autumn 2018 asked the public to nominate and vote on famous figures whose names could be given to more than 40 airports across Russia. Nicholas II received 68,260 votes (48%) for the renaming of Murmansk Airport.

Reconstruction of the square in front of the air terminal is coming to an end, after which a bust-monument of Nicholas II will be installed on the square in front of the main terminal.

Additional construction at the airport will include a new terminal for domestic flights within Russia. The name of Nicholas II will be placed on the facades of each of the two terminals.

© Paul Gilbert. 20 November 2020

New monument to Nicholas II opens in Penza Region

On 15th October, a new monument-bust to Nicholas II was unveiled and consecrated in the Penza region.

The monument was installed on the grounds of the Church of the “Quick to Hearken” Icon of the Mother of God in the Russian village of Proletarsky Zemetchinsky.

“The money for the monument to the Tsar-Martyr was collected in the form of donations from all over Russia” said Anatoly Tashkin-Bury, one of the two initiators of the project.

According to him, the initiative received the blessing of the hierarchy of the Penza diocese. The unveiling and consecration ceremony of the monument was attended by more than 100 people.

Tashkin-Bury added that the event was also attended by a small group of local Communists, carrying posters with provocative slogans such as “Bloody Nicholas”.

© Paul Gilbert. 10 November 2020

The myth that Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich was Russia’s last Tsar

The question of whether Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich (1878-1918) was the last Emperor of Russia, remains a subject of debate among many historians and monarchists to this day.

A heartbeat from the throne

Mikhail Alexandrovich was the youngest son and fifth child of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna, and youngest brother of Emperor Nicholas II.

At the time of his birth, his paternal grandfather Alexander II was still the reigning Emperor. Mikhail was fourth-in-line to the throne after his father and elder brothers Nicholas and George. After the assassination of his grandfather in 1881, he became third-in-line and, in 1894, after the death of his father, second-in-line. His brother George died in 1899, leaving Mikhail as heir presumptive. The birth of Nicholas’s son Alexei in 1904 moved Mikhail back to second-in-line.

In 1912, Mikhail shocked Nicholas II by marrying Natalia Sergeyevna Wulfert, a commoner and divorcee. In a series of decrees in December 1912 and January 1913, Nicholas relieved Mikhail of his command, banished him from Russia, froze all his assets in Russia, seized control of his estates and removed him from the Regency.

After the outbreak of World War I, Mikhail returned to Russia, assuming command of a cavalry regiment. When Nicholas abdicated on 15 March [O.S. 2 March] 1917, Mikhail was named as his successor instead of Alexei. Mikhail, however, deferred acceptance of the throne until ratification by an elected assembly. Nicholas was appalled that his brother had “kowtowed to the Constituent Assembly” and called the manifesto “rubbish”.

Mikhail was never confirmed as Emperor and, following the Russian Revolution of 1917, he was imprisoned and subsequently murdered by the Bolsheviks near Perm on 13 June 1918 (aged 39).

Would Mikhail have made a good Tsar?

While many of Nicholas II’s detractors insist that Russia’s last Tsar was unprepared for the throne, his brother Mikhail was even less prepared. Mikhail had no aspirations for the throne, instead he preferred the life a playboy, and his gentle disposition would have made him an easy target for manipulative ministers and generals in helping nurture their own selfish interests.

His letters to his brother the Emperor reveal a rather devious and conniving side of Mikhail. In one such letter dated 7th November 1912, Nicholas writes to his mother:

“What revolts me more than anything else is his reference to poor Alexei’s [the Tsesarevich’s] illness which, he [Mikhail] says, made him speed things up. [Mikhail is referring to his marriage. In the event of Alexei’s death, Mikhail would have become heir to the throne]. And then the disappointment and sorrow it brings to you and all of us and the scandal of it all over Russia mean absolutely nothing to him! At a time, too, when everyone is expecting war, and when the tercentenary of the Romanovs is due in a few months! I am ashamed and deeply grieved.”

Many believe that Mikhail’s ascension to the throne would have ushered in a constitutional monarchy and that this in itself would have preserved the dynasty and saved Russia. Russia, however, was not prepared for a constitutional monarchy, nor would it have preserved the dynasty nor would it have saved Russia. A constitutional monarchy would not have appeased the socialists and revolutionaries, and most certainly driven the radical elements such as the Bolsheviks to extreme measures. It has been argued that Russia should have adopted a European style monarchy. There is little similarity. Holy Russia did not need to adopt a Western style monarchy. For centuries Russia had been led by mystic forces. Monarchy was the social system that fit Russia best.

The legality of Nicholas II’s act of abdication 

Some historians further argue that Nicholas II’s act of abdication on 15 March 1917 (O.S. 2 March) 1917 was invalid for two reasons: one, because it was signed in pencil, violating all the necessary legal and procedural methods and format, and thus had no legal force; and two, because the instrument of abdication was never officially published by the Imperial Senate.

In his scholarly book ‘Russia 1917. The February Revolution,’ historian George Katkov, throws yet another interesting coal into the fire:

“ . . . when the Tsar abdicated, and later on behalf of his son, he was accused of having done so in contravention of the law of succession and with the aim of introducing a legal flaw into the instrument of abdication that would later allow him to declare it invalid.”

If this is true, it was a very clever move on the part of Nicholas II, not realizing the terrible fate which awaited him and his family 15 months later in Ekaterinburg.

One thing, however, is certain—Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich was NOT Russia’s last tsar! Nicholas II remained Emperor and Tsar of Russia until the day of his death and martyrdom on 17th July 1918.

As God’s Anointed, Nicholas II could not be displaced during his lifetime. Since the will of God was nowhere manifest, neither in the naming of his brother Grand Duke Mikhail to the throne, nor in the Tsar’s signing of the instrument of abdication, his status as Tsar remained inviolate and unassailable.

© Paul Gilbert. 6 November 2020


The history and restoration of the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir in the Alexander Palace


PHOTO: View of the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir in the Alexander Palace, as it looked in 1917
Popillon’s painting “The Dream of the Virgin” can be seen hanging on the wall 

The favourite room of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in the Alexander Palace was the Mauve (aka Lilac) Boudoir. This interior was designed by Roman Feodorovich Meltser (1860-1943). According to legend, the empress gave him a lilac branch, her favourite flower, so that the architect could choose the colour scheme for the decoration of the room.

As a result, the walls were upholstered in mauve silk and crowned with a frieze decorated with an iris styled pattern. An ornamental Louis XV style painting decorated the ceiling of the room.

PHOTOS: views of the Mauve (Liliac) Boudoir in the Alexander Palace, as it looked in 1917

The furniture and upright piano by J. Becker were been painted with ivory enamel paint. Some of the furniture items were included in the composition of the walls and fastened to the wall panels. On the shelves, cabinets and fireplace were glass vases, mainly produced by the workshop of Emile Gallé, porcelain figurines and handmade souvenirs presented as gifts to the Empress, as well as family photographs. The room was decorated year-round with fresh flowers from the gardens or hothouses at Tsarskoye Selo.

Alexandra Feodorovna spent a lot of time in the Mauve Boudoir: it was here that she rested, read, and carried out her correspondence. In the evening, the whole family gathered here. The cabinets contained books from the empress’s personal library, sheet music, drawing supplies, and board games.

Thus, at the beginning of the 20th century, the room personified the comfort of a home.

Like many other rooms in the Alexander Palace, the Mauve Boudoir suffered a sad fate – the decoration and the interior were lost during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45).

PHOTO: the current look of the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir after an extensive restoration

PHOTO: Recreated doors of the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir in the Alexander Palace

During the current restoration, fabric upholstery for the walls and curtains (fragments of fabric had been preserved in the Pavlovsk State Museum-Reserve), furniture, carpets, wood panels, a fireplace, and a picturesque frieze were recreated, based on historical samples, archival documents and photographs.

A huge amount of work has been done to recreate the doors: first, models were made, then the doors were recreated from wood.

The collection of the Alexander Palace Museum contains Alexandra’s writing table from the Mauve Boudoir, found in the park in a ruined state after the war. In 2018, test cleanings of a paint layer of the writing table were carried out, thanks to which the initial colour of the finishing of the entire interior was determined, as well as the colour scheme for the panels, built-in furniture and cabinet doors. The museum plans to restore Alexandra’s writing table to its original, thanks to descriptions and old photographs.

A painting (see first photo above in this article) by the French artist Edouard Jerome Popillon “The Dream of the Virgin” which once hung in the Mauve Boudoir will be returned to the Alexander Palace from the Pavlovsk Museum-Reserve, where it has been held for many decades. Upon the reopening of the palace next year, the painting will be on display in the room for visitors to enjoy.

PHOTO: Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna seated in the corner of the Mauve Boudoir


The Mauve Boudoir is now one of 15 interiors in the eastern wing of the palace, scheduled to open in 2021. Among the other interiors are the New Study of Nicholas II, Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II, Working Study of Nicholas II, Reception Room of Nicholas II, Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room, Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room, the Imperial Bedroom, among others.

In the future, the Alexander Palace will become a memorial museum of the Romanov family – from Catherine the Great to Nicholas II, showcasing the private, domestic life of the Russian monarchs who used the palace as an official residence. The eastern wing of the palace will be known as the Museum of the Russian Imperial Family. The multi-museum complex, which includes the Western wing is scheduled for completion no earlier than 2024.


Dear Reader: If you enjoy all my updates on the restoration of the Alexander Palace, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars – donations can be made by GoFundMe, PayPal, credit card, personal check or money order. Click HERE to make a donation. Thank you for your consideration – PG

© Paul Gilbert. 4 November 2020

A peek inside the ‘Nicholas II 2021 Calendar’



I am reaching out to friends and followers of my 26+ years of researching and writing about the life, reign and era of Emperor Nicholas II (1868-118).

If you enjoy my articles, news, photos and videos about Russia’s last emperor and tsar, please support my research in the coming new year ahead, by purchasing a copy of ‘Nicholas II 2021 Calendar’.

Each month features an iconic full-page photograph of Nicholas II (see images below), printed on glossy stock.

Each month features an iconic full-page photo
of Nicholas II printed on glossy stock


Each month features an iconic full-page photo
of Nicholas II printed on glossy stock

The entire net proceeds from the sale of each calendar goes towards my research, which includes the costly translation of articles and news from Russian media and archival sources, and more.

The price is only $10 + postage. Payment can be made by credit card or PayPal online or by personal check or money order (Click HERE to download and print an order form to pay be check or money order )

THANK YOU to those of you who have already purchased a copy,
your interest and support of my research is much appreciated – PG

© Paul Gilbert. 2 November 2020

The development of the Russian Empire during the reign of Nicholas II

Unlike those who talk about the unpreparedness, weakness and lack of will of Nicholas II, Russian historian Andrei Anatolyevich Borisyuk, is convinced that the Emperor knew what the country needed during the first years of his reign, and brilliantly fulfilled his mission as sovereign.

“He immediately took effective and ingenious steps for the development of the state,” says the historian. – The economy, bolstered by a growing railway system, was rapidly being developed. Metallurgy was being completely rebuilt. The Urals which was considered the main center of metallurgy, was soon outpaced by the Donbass region, where seven metallurgical plants were built under Nicholas II. Nearby were huge coal reserves, located in the Krivoy Rog iron ore basin. While firewood was being used to smelt metal in the Urals, coal was used in the Donbass. Before 1914, metalworking and mechanical engineering were developing at a record pace in the Empire. These rates even exceeded those of Stalin’s five-year plans.

Double-decker trains and aeroplanes

Recently a double-decker train was put into service between Moscow and Bryansk, but the implementation of the new railcars was delayed by a hundred years. Historic photographs prove that already in 1905, modern-looking double-decker cars, produced in Tver, were already running on Russian rails. It is clear that it was impossible to build them without a very high technological level of production.

During the reign of Nicholas II, the Empire began to produce aeroplanes and cars. During the First World War, 6,300 aircraft were built in “backward” Russia. At the same time, the production of submarines and other high-tech products was developing.

The production of cement increased 15 fold, which was necessary for the rapidly gaining momentum in the construction industry. Such an increase was a result of the changes to urban construction and development. For the first time, the construction of seven- and eight-story apartment buildings was underway in Russia. Many of these buildings have survived to this day in Moscow, where they are often mistaken for Stalinist ones, but in reality they were built during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II.

Agriculture was also increasing. In terms of the harvest of wheat and sugar beet, Russia ranked first in the world, in terms of the total volume of grain harvest – the United States ranking second. This growth was not accidental, it was the result of the reforms of Pyotr Stolypin (1882-1911), who served as Prime Minister of Russia, and Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Empire from 1906 to his assassination in 1911. But it is interesting to note that many of these reforms were already in place by the time the brilliant statesman came to head the government. The essence of the reforms resulted in the peasants having the right to personal ownership, giving a person the opportunity to buy and sell land without being constrained by any conditions. The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, drove everyone into collective farms, again turning people into disenfranchised slaves.

Huge sums of money were allocated for the creation of experimental agricultural enterprises. Farms, and experimental stations were emerging, and agronomy was developing. It was at this time that the first tractors appeared in villages.

1908: universal education program

The actions and decisions of the Emperor lead to a huge economic recovery. The state began to finance subsidized sectors of the economy, such as the social sector. The standard of living of the population was increasing. Education received tremendous support. In 1908, a universal education program was launched in the Russian Empire. During the reign of Nicholas II, more than 65 thousand schools were built.

“The pre-revolutionary program of universal education was denied in Soviet times,” says Andrei Borisyuk. – “The creation of this system was attributed exclusively to the Soviet Union, but documentary sources provide an unambiguous understanding that the universal education program began during the reign of Nicholas II. I researched the documents of the Ministry of Public Education of the Russian Empire, which are in the Russian State Historical Archives, and they prove that the program created 65 thousand new schools.”

The population was growing at a record pace, while mortality was decreasing. One of the many myths regarding the Russian Empire was that the population was allegedly starving, that every few years there was a terrible famine that claimed the lives of millions of people. Hunger in any case is reflected in the statistics, if there was one. But we know two peaks – the famine of the 1920s and 1930s. There were no such peaks in the Russian Empire; the mortality rate was consistently decreasing due to an increase in living standards. The claim that the revolution saved people from hunger does not stand up to scrutiny. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian Empire was an advanced high-tech country with rapidly developing industrialization and education.

Science was also developing. It was during the reign of Nicholas II, that the scientist Alexander Stepanovich Popov (1859-1906) invented the radio in 1895. In 1911, the world’s first broadcast of television data was carried out in Russia by Boris Lvovich Rosing (1869-1933). 

It is interesting to note that Rosing was one of the many talented pupils of the Russian education system. The Ministry of Public Education, which was established in 1802 by Emperor Alexander I, stated that any citizen of the Russian Empire, regardless of class, could receive an education. Some were able to finish one class of the primary parish school, others – three classes of the district school. There was further opportunity to study in gymnasiums, provincial schools, universities. Primary school education was free.

Another pupil Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863-1945), went on to study the atom, and later said that nuclear energy will soon overshadow the power of the owners of gold, land and capital. The first radium laboratory was created and a radium mine under development.

Also noteworthy is Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935) who is considered to be one of the founding fathers of modern rocketry and astronautics. His works later inspired leading Soviet rocket engineers such as Sergei Korolev and Valentin Glushko and contributed to the success of the Soviet space program. Tsiolkovsky was also one of the many talented pupils of the education system of the Russian Empire.

Choosing between Liberalism and Communism

“The development of Russian civilization evolved over many centuries, reaching amazing heights,” says Andrei Borisyuk. – From the birth of this civilization, we can say that Russia was a country of high values ​​and technology. Here churches and monasteries were being built, but at the same time industrial enterprises were opening, factories being built, radio was created, and advanced technological developments carried out. This is the land of scholars and holy ascetics. Why is this important to us now? In his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order the American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington writes that modern geopolitics is built more along the borders of civilizations than along the geographical borders of countries. That is, civilization is primary for explaining the logic of historical processes. Civilization is a global space built on certain values. An understanding of basic values, that underlie our civilization is literally a matter of national security. What values ​​are at the heart of Russia? On what did the Russian people assert themselves? An appeal to historical Russia shows that these were the traditional values ​​of Faith, Motherland and Family. Relying on them, our country achieved maximum results and victories. Any attempt to deviate from these values resulted in very grave consequences for Russia. This ultimately happened in 1917. During that year the Russian people made a choice between Western European liberalism (February Revolution) and Western communism (October Revolution). The choice of the latter to deviate from the Russian Empire’s historical path of development, ended in failure. By putting pragmatic values ​​first, the economy began to develop more slowly under the Bolsheviks.

Vintage newsreels and old photographs captured many of the Empire’s achievements. The Sormovo machine-building plant, and the Putilovsky plant which produced steam locomotives are just two examples which speak otherwise. Both workshops have survived to this day. And then there are the oil refineries, the power plant in St. Petersburg which is considered a masterpiece of architecture in comparison with the present industrial buildings. It is interesting to note that the same tower cranes used during the construction of the Russian-Baltic Shipyard in 1913, are still in use today. “Backward Russia?”

One photo captured the agricultural equipment of the “joint-stock company of Bryansk factories”, which the then “marketers” brought to an agricultural fair in the Amur region. By 1916, the peasants in the Samara region rejoiced at the arrival of the first tractors which they used to plow the land at their experimental station.

The skylines of both St. Petersburg and Moscow were dotted by the cupolas of beautiful churches and cathedrals. In the village of Pidma, a two-story school was built, which even today stands out with its severity and grace. A post office and a rural store in the Arkhangelsk hinterland more resemble a village palace even today. And the houses in Borodino, near Moscow, are examples of design and style which reflect the beauty of the Russian Empire.

Civilization is life. The Russian Empire in this sense was much more civilized than the modern world, which distorts the concept of the family and imposes destructive ideas. During the reign of Nicholas II, the population of Russia grew by 50 million people. In the pre-revolutionary years, the country’s population increased by 3.6 million people annually. This population growth in itself refutes the assertions of the Bolshevik propaganda that both hunger and want reigned in the Empire. Sadly, of course, diseases were present, and class inequality was still visible, but the fact that the number of inhabitants of Russia was growing also testifies to its prosperity,


Born in Moscow on 15th November 1989, Andrey Anatolyevich Borisyuk is one of a new generation of post-Soviet researcher and historian dedicated to challenging the popular held negative myths and lies about Russia’s last emperor and tsar.

He studied at the Orthodox St. Tikhon University, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, in Russian history.

He is the author of 2 Russian language books on Nicholas II: История России, которую приказали забыть. Николай II и его время.2018; and Рекорды Империи. Эпоха Николая II. 2020.

© Paul Gilbert. 1 November 2020

The October Revolution 1917 in the International Context. Interview with Professor Dominic Lieven

CLICK on the IMAGE above to watch VIDEO in English. Duration: 24 minutes.

A remarkable interview with Cambridge Research Professor D. Lieven (born 19 January 1952) about the reasons for and the outcomes of the 1917 October Revolution, as well as his family’s personal experience with it. He also speaks about Russia’s involvement in WW1, the Russian-German relationships, and gives an extraordinarily objective evaluation of Tsar Nicholas II’s abilities as a ruler, and comments on the most important decisions during his reign. Dominic Lieven is a research professor at Cambridge University (Senior Research Fellow, Trinity College) and a Fellow of the British Academy and of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Professor Lieven is the third child, of five children, of Alexander Lieven, of the Baltic German princely family, tracing ancestry to Liv chieftain Kaupo. He is the elder brother of Anatol Lieven, British author, Orwell Prize-winning journalist, and policy analyst, and he is distantly related to Christopher Lieven (1774–1839), who was Ambassador to the Court of St James from Imperial Russia over the period 1812 to 1834, and whose wife was Dorothea von Benckendorff, later Princess Lieven (1785–1857), a notable society hostess in Saint Petersburg and influential figure among many of the diplomatic, political, and social circles of 19th-century Europe. Lieven is a great-grandson of the Lord Chamberlain of the Imperial Court of Russia.

He is the author of numerous books on on Russian history, on empires and emperors, on the Napoleonic era and the First World War, and on European aristocracy, including: Russia’s Rulers Under the Old Regime, Yale University Press (1989); The Aristocracy in Europe 1815/1914, Macmillan/Columbia University Press (1992); Nicholas II: Emperor of all the Russias, John Murray/St Martin’s Press/Pimlico (1993); and The End of Tsarist Russia: The March to World War I and Revolution, Penguin Random House (2015).


This video is produced as part of the project for the book The Romanov Royal Martyrs, which is an impressive 512-page book, featuring nearly 200 black & white photographs, and a 56-page photo insert of more than 80 high-quality images, colorized by the acclaimed Russian artist Olga Shirnina (Klimbim) and appearing here in print for the first time. EXPLORE the book / ORDER the book.

© Mesa Potamos Monastery. 30 October 2020

Monument to the meeting of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna in Russia unveiled in Crimea

PHOTO: Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich,
Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt and Rhine

On 30th October, a monument dedicated to the meeting of Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich (future Emperor Nicholas II) and his future bride Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt and Rhine (future Empress Alexandra Feodorovna) in Russia (1894) was unveiled and consecrated in the courtyard of the Central Library in the Crimean city of Alushta, .

Sculptors Irina Makarova and her husband Maxim Bataev, began work on the monument in February. Together, they created a composition consisting of four bronze sculptures. each a little over two meters high, a granite pedestal and an arch.

The funds for the monument were allocated by the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation and the Double-Headed Eagle Society for the Development of Russian Historical Education.

“Our composition was not easy. The arch unites two loving hearts – Nicholas and Alix, and is also crowned with an Orthodox cross,” said the sculptor Irina Makarova. – “In addition, there are other persons – Nicholas’ uncle Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, and his wife, the sister of the bride, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, who helped unite the two loving hearts. They were all together in Alushta on that day in 1894.”

PHOTO: The consecration of the monument to Nicholas and Alexandra in Alushta

“We decided to portray Nicholas Alexandrovich in a Hussar uniform – it was in this outfit that he got married,” added Irina Makarova. “In her hands Elizabeth Feodorovna is depicted holding a small icon of the Saviour as the personification of spirituality. After all, she supported her sister when Alix doubted whether to change her faith The arch is also a symbol of Orthodoxy and Holy Russia.”

“My husband and I worked together on every detail,” – said Irina Makarova. – “We argued for a long time over the likeness of the future Emperor. We took the advice of Konstantin Valerievich, slightly changing the shape of the eyes and nose so that Nicholas II would become recognizable in his youth. After that we managed to achieve maximum realism.”

According to local residents, this monument will immortalize not only the meeting of two loving hearts, but also their loyalty for one another.

“I kiss and caress you endlessly, I want to show you all the power of my love for you,” wrote Alexandra Feodorovna to her husband. “Always yours to death and beyond …”

Click HERE to read 3 additional articles (with photos) about the Monument to Nicholas and Alexandra in Alushta

© Paul Gilbert. 30 October 2020

The fate of the regicides who murdered Nicholas II and his family


PHOTO: Pyotr Ermakov, Mikhail Medvedev-Kudrin,
Pavel Medvedev, Yakov Yurovsky and Grigory Nikulin

The murders of Emperor Nicholas II, his family and four faithful retainers in Ekaterinburg on 17th July 1918, remains one of the darkest pages in 20th century Russian history. To this day, historians and investigators are not entirely sure of all those who participated in the regicide, only the names of some of them are known – those who admitted that they were a participant in the regicide, or those of whom were identified by witnesses. The fate of many of these regicides also ended tragically, their lives being overtaken by disease or an equally violent death.

It is known that the direct leader of the liquidation of the Imperial family was Yankel Khaimovich, better known as Yakov Yurovsky. He lived until 1938 and died of a duodenal ulcer. In Soviet times, they said that his son was not responsible for his father’s crime, but the apple didn’t fall far from the tree in the Yurovsky family. The eldest son Alexander, ended up in the Butyrka prison in 1952, but was released a year later. The daughter Rimma was also arrested in March 1938. She served a sentence in the Karaganda forced labour camp until 1946. Yurovsky’s grandchildren were not spared either, dying under mysterious circumstances. Two died after falling from a roof, while the other two were burned to death in a fire. It is worth recalling that the blood of Tsar Nicholas II was spilled by Yurovsky. He himself recalled: “I fired the first shot and killed Nikolai on the spot.”

The leading Russian playwright and historian Edvard Radzinsky was most intrigued by the idea that there was photographic evidence of the murdered remains of the Imperial family.

“Yurovsky was a professional photographer,” he says. “He confiscated a camera from the Tsarina. It was impossible for him to take pictures immediately after the execution — he was a little bit crazy, they continued to be alive, they continued to kill them. But afterwards, he had three days. He had an opportunity to take a camera to the grave. It is impossible for a man who likes pictures not to take such pictures.”

Could there be any truth to his idea, or did Radzinsky give birth to yet another Romanov conspiracy theory? Radzinsky is a playwright, and perhaps his creative imagination got the better of him, but who knows? Yurovsky had already proven what he was capable of, so anything was possible! There is also the possibility that Yurovsky took such photos to take with him when he left for Moscow after the murders, as evidence to Lenin and Sverdlov that the regicide had been carried out?

“IF” such photographs ever existed, we can surely assume that they would have been destroyed. Lenin was both crafty and careful not to leave a paper trail that would implicate him in dubious affairs – murder being one of them.

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

The personality of Pyotr Ermakov was no less significant in the murders of the Imperial family. According to his own recollections, it was he who killed the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the cook Ivan Kharitonov and the doctor Evgeny 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 … ” Ermakov died of cancer on 22nd May 1952.

Since the 1990s, Ermakov’s grave in the Ivanovo Cemetery in Ekaterinburg. has been repeatedly vandalized by local monarchists, who regularly 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.

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

He left a testimony regarding another regicide: “Stepan Vaganov dealt with the grand duchesses: they lay dying in a heap on the floor and groaned … Vaganov continued to shoot at Olga and Tatiana … I don’t think any of us shot the maid Demidova. She sank to the floor, shielding herself with pillows. Vaganov, later pierced her throat with his bayonet … ” Death found Vaganov in the same ill-fated year of 1918. When Kolchak’s army took Ekaterinburg, Vaganov did not escape, instead he hid in a basement, where he was found by relatives of those killed during the raids. They did not stand on ceremony for long – they killed him on the spot. Perhaps in vain, because he could have given interesting testimony, having fallen into the hands of the investigators who were engaged in clarifying the fate of the Imperial family. But the fact remains: Vaganov did not die of natural causes.

Pavel Medvedev turned out to be not just a murderer, but also a thief. He recalled: “Walking around the rooms, I found six 10-ruble credit tickets under the book Закон Божий (God’s Law), in one of them, and appropriated this money for myself. I also took some silver rings and some other knickknacks.” Medvedev, unlike Ermakov, fell into the hands of Kolchak’s troops. He fled from Ekaterinburg, but, was captured, and he was charged with “murder by prior conspiracy with other persons and the seizure of the property of the former Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, the heir to Alexei Nikolaevich and Grand Duchesses Olga, Maria , Tatyana, Anastasia, as well as the physician Dr. Botkin, the maid Anna Demidova, the cook Kharitonov and the footman Troupe. “In 1919, Medvedev died in prison from typhus, however, his widow claimed that he was killed by White Guards.

PHOTO: Philip Goloshchekin

It was no coincidence that Sergei Broido ended up in the Ipatiev House, but he also took part in the murder of the Imperial family by order. Mikhail Medvedev-Kudrin, who also took part in the murders, recalled: “It is known that Broido, along with Ermakov and Goloschekin, arrived in a car at the Ipatiev House on the eve of the murder. It is believed that due to a lack of men to carry out the execution, he was recruited at the last minute by order of Yurovsky.” On 8th March 1937, Broido was first convicted under Article 58 of the RSFSR Criminal Code, for being a Trotskyist, and subsequently shot.

The youngest regicide was Viktor Netrebin. At the time of the crime, he was only 17 years old. Netrebin disappeared in 1935. The Latvian Jan Cemles also disappeared.

But there were also those who organized the murders of the Imperial family and their retainers. Among them was Shaya Itsikovich, known as Philip Goloshchekin, who is known to be one of the organizers. It was he who came up with the idea of ​​execution, even travelling to Moscow to discuss his plans with Lenin and Sverdlov. Goloshchekin was not present himself during the murders, but he took part in the removal and destruction of the remains. On 15th October 1939, Goloshchekin was arrested for sympathizing with the Trotskyists. Another fact from his biography is particularly noteworthy. After his arrest, and during interrogation the People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs Nikolai Yezhov, claimed that he had a homosexual relationship with Goloshchekin. On 28th October 1941, Goloshchekin was shot near Samara. A colleague and another organizer of the execution of the Imperial family, Yakov Sverdlov, described Goloshchekin as follows: “I stayed with Goloshchekin for several days, things are bad with him. He has become neurasthenic and becomes a misanthrope.” An interesting fact is that Sverdlov did not die of natural causes. According to the official version, he died of the Spanish flu, which raged after the First World War, but there is a second version, according to which the workers beat Sverdlov in Oryol and he died from the injuries he sustained.

Pyotr Voikov was also an organizer and participant in the murder of Nicholas II and his family. Diplomat-defector Grigory Besedovsky, who knew Voikov personally, recalled: “As commandant of the Ipatiev House, the execution of the decree was entrusted to Yurovsky. During the execution, Voikov was supposed to be present, as a delegate to the regional party committee. He, as a scientist and chemist, was instructed to develop a plan for the complete destruction of the bodies. Voikov was also instructed to read the decree on the execution to the Imperial family, with a motivation that consisted of several lines, and learned this decree by heart in order to read it out as solemnly as possible, believing that thereby he would go down in history as one of the main participants in this tragedy”. Voikov was killed in Warsaw in June 1927 by the Russian émigré Boris Koverda. During interrogation, Koverda stated about the motives of his act: “I avenged Russia, for millions of people.” Boris Koverda spent 10 years in Polish prisons and was granted amnesty. After his release in 1937, he lived another 50 years and died in Washington at the age of 79.

Not only did these men committed regicide, they also helped to drown Russia in blood. Today, streets, squares and even metro stations of Russia’s cities are named after some of them. Is this right? No! These men will forever, have their names inscribed in the history of Russia, not as scientists or engineers, but as murderers.

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

© Paul Gilbert. 28 October 2020