Russia after Putin: would he restore the monarchy?

PHOTO: Russian president Vladimir Putin holding a replica of the of Imperial Crown of Russia

In the late 1960s, the aging Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco (1892-1975) decided to name a monarch to succeed him. In 1969, Franco formally nominated as his heir-apparent Prince Juan Carlos de Borbón [the grandson of King Alfonso XIII, the last king of Spain], who had been educated by him in Spain, with the new title of Prince of Spain. This designation came as a surprise to the Carlist pretender to the throne, Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma, as well as to Juan Carlos’s father, Juan de Borbón, the Count of Barcelona, who had a better claim to the throne, but whom Franco feared to be too liberal.

By 1973, Franco had surrendered the function of prime minister (Presidente del Gobierno), remaining only as head of state and commander in chief of the military.

Due to Franco’s declining health, Juan Carlos first began periodically acting as Spain’s head of state in the summer of 1974. Franco died in November the following year and Juan Carlos became king on 22 November 1975, two days after Franco’s death, the first reigning monarch since 1931, although his exiled father did not formally renounce his claims to the throne in favor of his son until 1977.

Is it at all possible that a similar shift of power would occur in a post-Putin Russia? How popular is the idea of a restoration of the monarchy in Russia in the 21st century? Who are the contenders? Let’s take a closer look . . .

Russia after Putin

During the past year, Western media have fuelled speculation about President Vladimir Putin’s alleged declining health. Rumours of his physical well-being have been rife, with a range of theories from cancer to Parkinson’s. Some Western news outlets have even gone so far as to state that he will be dead by the end of 2024.

Given the current political situation between Russia and the West, coupled with stealth efforts to protect Putin, and a lack of reliable sources for these news reports, one must take them with a grain of salt, treating them as nothing more than propaganda.

Despite Western predictions of Russia’s pending economic collapse, the country appears to be adapting to sanctions imposed by the United States, Great Britain, and European Union. Growing demand for Russian energy imports has helped keep the country’s besieged economy afloat. China and India, Asia’s biggest and third-biggest economies, respectively, have been the biggest drivers of the trend. This includes crude oil, pipeline gas, liquefied natural gas and coal

According to Fareed Zakaria: “Russia’s performance in the war has been poor, but it is doing better, especially at holding territory. Russia has also been able to stabilize its economy, which the IMF projects will do better this year than the UK’s or Germany’s. Russia is trading freely with such economic behemoths as China, and India, as well as neighbors like Turkey and Iran. Because of these countries and many more, outside of the advanced technology sector, it has access to all the goods and capital it lost through the Western boycott. There is now a huge world economy that does not include the West, and Russia can swim in those waters freely.”

In addition, the Russian ruble has gained against the dollar after collapsing immediately after the Ukraine invasion.

While Putin remains unpopular in the West, his popularity among his own people remains high. In January 2023, over 80 percent of Russians approved of activities of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The popularity level saw an increase compared to September 2022, when it stood at 77 percent.

Contrary to Western media hype, President Vladimir Putin, now 70, looks remarkably healthy and shows no sign of stepping down any time soon . . . but, “what if” he decided to step down as president, “what if” he was forced from office or “what if” he died in office, who would succeed him? Would Putin repeat Franco’s historic decision, and restore the monarchy in modern day Russia?

Who are the contenders?

There are currently more than 50 Romanov descendants scattered around the world, however, only three of them are seeking to wear the Russian crown: the Spanish born Princess Maria Vladimirovna, her son Prince George Mikhailovich, and the German born Prince Karl Emich of Leiningen.

Princess Maria Vladimirovna (b. 1953)

PHOTO: Princess Maria Vladimirovna at St Isaac’s Cathedral, St Petersburg. September 2021

Princess Maria Vladimirovna Romanova was born in Madrid, Spain on 23rd December 1953, the only child of Prince Vladimir Kirillovich (1917-1992) and Princess Leonida Bagration-Mukhrani (1914-2010). She is a granddaughter of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich (1876-1938) and Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna (1876-1936). She is a great-great-granddaughter in the male line of Emperor Alexander II (1818-1881).

Maria “Masha” Vladimirovna styles herself as a “Grand Duchess,” however, this is incorrect. The last grand duchess of Russia was Nicholas II’s younger sister Olga Alexandrovna, who died on 24th November 1960, in Toronto, Canada. Masha’s supporters style her as “Empress de Jure”.

On 23rd December 1969, Maria swore an oath of loyalty to her father, to Russia, and to uphold the Fundamental Laws of Russia which governed succession to the defunct throne. At the same time, her father issued a controversial decree recognising her as heiress presumptive and declaring that, in the event he predeceased other dynastic Romanov males, then Maria would become the “Curatrix of the Imperial Throne” until the death of the last male dynast. This has been viewed as an attempt by her father to ensure the succession remained in the Kirillovich branch of the Imperial Family, while the heads of the other branches of the Imperial Family, the Princes Vsevolod Ioannovich of the Konstantinovichi, Roman Petrovich of the Nikolaevichi and Prince Andrei Alexandrovich of the Mihailovichi declared that her father’s actions were illegal.

On 4th September 1976 (civil) in Dinard, France and at the Russian Orthodox Chapel in Madrid, Spain on 22nd September 1976 (religious), Maria married Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia [born 1943], of the defunct House of Hohenzollern. Franz Wilhelm is a great-grandson of Emperor Wilhelm II. Franz Wilhelm converted to the Eastern Orthodox faith prior to the wedding, taking the name Michael Pavlovich and receiving the title of a Grand Duke of Russia from Maria’s father.

The couple separated in 1982, a year after the birth of their only child, George Mikhailovich. Following the divorce on 19th June 1985, Franz Wilhelm reverted to his Prussian name and style, and converted back to his Catholic faith.

Upon the death of her father on 21st April 1992, Maria “succeeded” him as head of the Russian Imperial Family, a move which was vehemently opposed by ALL the other living descendants of the Romanov family.

The Romanov Family Associations two successive presidents said of Maria’s claims: Prince Nicholas Romanovich, who maintained his own claims to dynastic status and to headship of the Romanov family, “Strictly applying the Pauline Laws as amended in 1911 to all marriages of Equal Rank, the situation is very clear. At the present time, not one of the Emperors or Grand Dukes of Russia has left living descendants with unchallengeable rights to the Throne of Russia,” and his younger brother, Prince Dimitri Romanovich, said of Maria’s assumption of titles, including “de jure Empress of all the Russias”, “It seems that there are no limits to this charade”.

Despite all the fuss over morganatic marriages within the Imperial Family – made by both herself and her father in the 20th and 21st centuries – in January 2021, Masha announced the morganatic engagement of her son to Rebecca Virginia Bettarini from Italy. Bettarini converted to Russian Orthodoxy and took the name Victoria Romanovna [named after Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna, wife of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich]. Masha granted permission for the couple to marry. She decreed that Bettarini will have the title Princess, with the predicate “Her Serene Highness” and the right to use the surname Romanov.

It is important to emphasize, that Maria Vladimirovna never had or has any authority to hand out titles or awards as she is not and never has been a ruling monarch. Despite this, Maria actively, and completely illegally distributes orders, medals and even titles of the Russian Empire. While many orders and awards of the Russian Empire have been officially restored in the modern Russian Federation, an ordinary civilian, and not a representative of the state, distributes the same order in appearance and name to her supporters on behalf of the “Imperial House”.

Prince George Mikhailovich-Hohenzollern (b. 1981)

PHOTO: Gosha is an honourary member of the Brotherhood in Christ Motorcycle Association

Prince George “Gosha” Mikhailovich was born in Madrid, Spain on 13th March 1981, he is the only child of Princess Maria Vladimirovna and Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia.

Gosha styles himself as a “Grand Duke,” however, this is incorrect. The last grand duke of Russia was Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich, who died on 30th October 1956, in Paris, France. His mother attributes to him the title of Tsesarevich: heir apparent or presumptive in the Russian Empire, a title which no longer exists. 

As the son of a cadet member of the branch of the House of Hohenzollern which formerly ruled the German Empire and Kingdom of Prussia, Gosha is legitimately a German prince, and has much more rights to the German throne than that of Russia. His father, who stopped using his Russian title after his separation, has said of his son, “I have his German passport right here; I always carry it with me. It says he is Prince George of Prussia”.

In 2013, Gosha established the Russian Imperial Foundation, whose director he later married. In 2019, George moved to Moscow, he is the only Romanov descendant currently living in Russia. He is a successful and wealthy businessman, and while thousands of his countrymen are being sent home in body bags, George and Victoria live in the lap of luxury in their sumptuous home in Moscow.

Despite all the fuss over morganatic marriages within the Imperial Family – made by both herself and her father in the 20th and 21st centuries – in January 2021, Masha announced the morganatic engagement of her son to Rebecca Virginia Bettarini from Italy. Bettarini converted to Russian Orthodoxy and took the name Victoria Romanovna [named after Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna, wife of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich]. Masha decreed that her future daughter-in-law would have the title of Princess, with the predicate “Her Serene Highness” and the right to use the surname Romanova

The couple married on 24th September 2021 in a civil ceremony in Moscow. The religious wedding took place on 1st October at Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in St Petersburg. The Russian and some Western media outlets hailed the event as both the Romanov “wedding of the century” and the “first Romanov to marry in Russia”, since the fall of the Romanov dynasty in 1917. Neither are correct. Around 1500 guests attended the lavish ceremony, including numerous members of various defunct royal houses of Europe. 

In May 2022, the couple announced that Princess Victoria was expecting their first child. On 21st October 2022, a son was born in Moscow. Once again, Masha issued yet another title: her first grandchild would be called “His Serene Highness Prince Alexander Georgievich Romanov”.

On 1st November 2022, the Romanov Family Association issued a statement claiming that the new Romanov baby “cannot rightfully be considered a member of the Russian Imperial Family”.

Prince Karl Emich of Leiningen (b. 1952)

The German-born 70-year-old Prince Karl Emich of Leiningen, has an even more ridiculous claim to the non-existent Russian throne. Prince Karl is a grandson of Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna (1907–1951), eldest child of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, who claimed the Russian crown while in exile in 1924. He is a great-great-grandson of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and grandnephew of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich – father of Princess Maria Vladimirovna.

 In 2013, the Monarchist Party of Russia declared him the primary heir to the Russian throne upon his conversion from Lutheranism to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and in 2014 announced the formation of the Imperial Throne, wherein Karl Emich had agreed to assume imperial dignity as Emperor Nicholas III.

Prince Karl married three times: He married Princess Margarita of Hohenlohe-Öhringen on 8 June 1984. Princess Margarita died in 1989 in a car accident. His second marriage took place on 24 May 1991, whereby he married morganatically Gabriele Renate Thyssen. The couple divorced in 1998. On 8 September 2007, Prince Karl married his third wife Countess Isabelle von und zu Egloffstein. On 12 April 2010, they had a son, Prince Emich of Leiningen. The family lives at Kunreuth castle in Bavaria.

Karl Emich and his supporters argue that the marriage of Maria Vladimirovna’s parents was in contravention of the Pauline Laws. They maintain that the House of Bragation-Mukhrani – to whom her mother was born – did not possess sovereign status and was not recognized as equal by Nicholas II for the purpose of dynastic marriages at the time of the union of Princess Tatiana Konstantinovna and Prince Constantine Bragation-Mukhransky in 1911, thirty seven years prior to that of Princess Leonida and Prince Vladimir Kirillovich. Therefore, as the next of kin to Vladimir (in the exclusion of his daughter), the Russian Monarchist Party recognises Karl Emich as the heir to the Russian throne, since he and his wife converted on 1st June 2013, from Lutheranism to Eastern Orthodoxy, enabling his accession. The couple received Orthodox names of Nikolai Kirillovich and Ekaterina Fyodorovna.

Russian Monarchist Groups

Russian Monarchist Party

The Russian Monarchist Party was established in 2012, by Russian businessman and politician Anton Alekseyevich Bakov (born 29 December 1965), and its current Chairman. It is the largest of numerous monarchist organizations founded since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, which supports a return of monarchy in Russia, ousted in 1917. In 2013 the Russian Monarchist Party declared German Prince Karl Emich of Leiningen as heir to the Russian throne.

In 2015 Bakov announced the Party’s plans to run for the upcoming 2016 Russian State Duma elections. In early 2016 in an interview with RBK news agency, he confirmed this intention and stated that Anastasia would again become the front person of the planned campaign, and he personally would not run. However, the party did not end up participating, and has since failed to garner much support for a restoration of monarchy in Russia.

In early 2016 Bakov announced the Monarchist Party plans to organize a public trial for Lenin and Stalin, accusing them of killing millions of Russians and thus significantly slowing down the normal evolution of society and state.

Konstantin Malofeev (b. 1974)

PHOTO: Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev (right) with his “good old friend” Prince George Mikhailovich (left)

Konstantin Valeryevich Malofeev (b. 1974) is a Russian businessman and chairman of non-government pro-monarchism organisation Society for the Development of Russian Historical Education Double-Headed Eagle. He is chairman of the board of directors of the media group Tsargrad dedicated to Russian Orthodox Christianity and support of President Vladimir Putin.

The Orthodox billionaire and philanthropist Konstantin Malofeev, a long-time friend of Princess Maria Vladimirovna and her son Prince George Mikhailovich. Malofeev served as “Guest of Honour” at the wedding of his “good old friend” George Mikhailovich, and Rebecca Bettarini, held in St. Petersburg on 1st October 2021.

PHOTO: Malofeev attended the wedding of Prince George Mikhailovich-Hohenzollern and Rebecca Bettarini in St. Petersburg

Since 2014, Malofeev and his companies are designated to the lists of individuals sanctioned by the European Union, United States, and Canada, during the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine, accusing Malofeev of trying to destabilize and financing separatism in Ukraine.

In September 2019, the Bulgarian government banned him from entering the country for ten years over an alleged spying conspiracy aimed at turning the country away from its pro-Western orientation and further toward Moscow. In April 2022, the United States Department of Justice indicted Malofeyev on the charge of evading IEEPA sanctions.

While all of Malofeev’s initiatives in Ukraine were, formally, privately organized and funded, intercepted phone calls between him and his lieutenants on the ground in Ukraine, as well as hacked email correspondence, showed that he closely coordinated his actions with the Kremlin, at times via the powerful Orthodox priest Bishop Tikhon whom Malofeev and Putin (in their own words) share as spiritual adviser; at other times via direct coordination between Malofeev and Putin’s advisers, but also via Malofeev’s close collaboration with the Kremlin-owned Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RIIS), chaired by former KGB/SVR General Leonid Reshetnikov.

Zemsky Sobor

The Zemsky Sobor of 1613 was a meeting of representatives of the Estates of the realm of the Tsardom of Russia, held for the election of a Tsar after the expulsion of the Polish-Lithuanian Occupiers at the end of the Time of Troubles. It was opened on 16th January 1613 in the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. On 3rd March 1613, the Sobor elected Mikhail Feodorovich Romanov (1596-1645) as Tsar, establishing the House of Romanov. The coronation of Michael I is widely considered to be the end of the time of troubles.

In modern times, the Zemsky Sobor called itself the Congress of White Monarchists. They met in Vladivostok in the summer of 1922, issuing a proclaimation for the restoration of the Romanov Dynasty on the Russian throne. It was the only attempt to restore the monarchy in Russia during the civil war.

On 23rd July 1922, the Zemsky Sobor of the Amur region of the Provisional Priamurye Government was convened in Vladivostok, by Mikhail Konstantinovich Diterikhs (1874-1937). Diterikhs was a general of the White Army in the Russian Far East, who convened the assembly four years after the murder of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. He issued a proclaimation for a new monarchy, naming Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich [1856-1929] as the Tsar of Russia, with Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow [1865-1925] as the honourary chairman of the Zemsky Sobor. Neither Nikolai or Tikhon were present at the assembly, and the plan was cancelled when the region fell to the Bolsheviks two months later.

Does the monarchy have a future in Russia?

It is Maria and George’s claims which garner the most publicity. They are supported by the Legitimists – a small group of zealots – most of whom are American, and have no say whatsoever in the monarchist debate in modern day Russia. They work tirelessly to promote their agenda to any one who will listen to them.

Despite what the Legitimists claim on their blog and social media, neither Maria Vladimirovna nor her pompous arrogant son George Mikhailovich, are very popular in post-Soviet Russia. This prompted Maria Vladimirovna to utilize a public relations firm to make her son more familiar and “likeable” to the Russian people. Most Russians – including monarchists – dismiss their claims as “pretenders” to the non-existent Russian throne

It is interesting to note that Maria and her son George DO NOT recognize the Ekaterinburg Remains as those of Emperor Nicholas II and his family; nor did either one of them attended the Tsar’s interment in St Petersburg on 17th July 1998; both continue to “maintain good relations with Vladimir Putin”.

The idea of restoring monarchy in post-Soviet Russia is not popular with most Russians. In the summer of 2019, a poll conducted by REGNUM of some 35,000 Russian citizens showed that only 28% supported the idea of restoring the monarchy, more than half (52%) of which would NOT support placing a “Romanov” on the throne!

The latter is supported by the abbot of the Archangel Michael Monastery of the Alexander Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, Father Afanasy Selichev, who said: “If we carefully read the latest edition of the laws on succession to the throne, it becomes absolutely clear that the current Romanovs have no right to occupy the Russian throne.”

And even if Russia opted to restore the monarchy, why would the Russian people want a European princess or prince to rule over them? A Zemsky Sobor would be the only logical option, whereby a new Tsar would be Russian born.

On a more personal note, while this author is a devout monarchist, I do not recognize any person as the claimant to the now defunct throne of Russia. I believe that the Russian monarchy ceased to exist upon the abdication of the Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II on 15th (O.S. 2nd) March 1917 and the murder of both the Tsar and his family on 17th July 1918.

If the monarchy is ever to be restored in 21st century Russia, it is up to the citizens of Russia to make that decision, no one else.

© Paul Gilbert. 23 March 2023

The unholy alliance of Maria and Vlad

PHOTO: Maria Vladimirovna, clearly delighted in meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin, during her visit to Moscow, in September 2012

* This article was updated with additional information on 14th March 2022

On 24th February 2022, Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. Since that time, an estimated 2000+ civilians have been killed in Ukraine; cities and towns have been bombed to submission; nuclear plants have been bombed; and according to French president Macron “the worst is yet to come”.

Many monarchists and Romanovphiles awaited a statement on the invasion, from the Spanish born princess, Maria Vladimirovan, the self aclaimed “Head” of the now defunct Russian Imperial House, who resides in a luxurious apartment in Madrid, Spain.

Maria issued a carefully worded statement the same day, one which was promptly translated into English by Russell E. Martin, a prominent American mouthpiece for Maria Vladimirovna. Martin acts as both translator and International Communications Advisor to the so-called “Chancellery of Her Imperial Highness”.

Riding in Martin’s back pocket is Nicholas B.A. Nicholson, [aka “Mr. X”], a well known Facebook troll, who from April 2020 to September 2021, served as Curator of the Russian History Museum in Jordanville, NY.

Together, Martin and Nicholson coo and fawn over this ridiculous woman, and work diligently to spread her agenda to an English speaking audience in the West. Their work is aided by a small group of Legitimist zealots, most of whom are American.

In her statement, Maria noted that she is both “alarmed” and “grieved” by those who have been “pitted against each other and spilt their blood; how peaceful citizens are dying and suffering; how parents shed inconsolable tears over the coffins of their children . . . ”

She closes her statement by saying – “I, my son and heir, The Grand Duke George of Russia, and his spouse, Princess Victoria Romanovna, pray for the immediate implementation of peace.”

What is particularly disturbing, however, is Maria’s failure to acknowledge the one person who is responsible for all the blood spilt, human suffering and death: Vladimir Putin!

She further adds – “The Russian Imperial House does not make statements of a political nature, and in any event, in the current conditions we do not have complete information that would allow us to make them”.

If this so called “Empress de jure” knew anything about her ancestors, she would know, that each and every Romanov monarch was very much involved in politics. Claiming that she lacks “complete information” is a spineless wat if skirting the issue, especially given all the reliable sources available.

Several months back, Russell Martin noted in one of his articles, that the “Russian Imperial House maintained good relations with Vladimir Putin” – a comment which has since been deleted by the author. In truth, Putin merely tolerates this family, nothing more.

As an example of not getting “involved in politics”, it is interesting to note that Maria openly supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Not only did she snuggle up to Putin’s agenda, she illegally awarded Natalya Poklonskaya, a popular Russian politician, who from 2014 to 2016 served as Prosecutor of the Republic of Crimea, the Imperial Order of St. Anastasia. On 30th November 2017, Poklonskaya returned the Order and nobility title.

So, in light of recent events, why has Maria Vladimirovna not spoken out against Putin? While she has kept her word—for the most part, any way—that she does not involve herself in politics, she wouldn’t dare criticize Putin, knowing the consequences which she would face. For one, her “Chancellery” would be closed in Moscow; her son and his morganatic wife—both of whom live in Moscow—would be asked to leave the country; and Maria herself would be persona non grata in Russia. In addition, their Russian passports would most likely be revoked.

If Maria Vladimirovna wants to gain any respect, then she must take a stand, and denounce the deranged Russian president, who is obsessed with destroying Ukraine, and murdering thousands of innocent men, women and children.

As one of my Facebook followers noted: “Her “statement” was a masterpiece of pomposity and obfuscation, achievemening nothing other than massaging her own ego!”

© Paul Gilbert. 5 February 2021

Romanov “wedding of the century”? Not quite!

George Mikhailovich Romanov with his bride Rebecca Bettarini

On 1st October, the wedding of George Mikhailovich Romanov [a Spanish citizen] to his fiancé Rebecca Bettarini [a citizen of Italy] was held in St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

More than 1,500 guests crammed the historic cathedral. Guests refused to wear protective masks or practice social distancing, despite the record number of daily COVID-19 cases and deaths in Russia[1].

The Russian and some Western media outlets hailed the event as both the Romanov “wedding of the century” and the “first Romanov to marry in Russia”, since the fall of the Romanov dynasty in 1917. Neither are correct.

PHOTOS: guests crammed the historic cathedral, defying protection from COVID

PHOTOS: guests crammed the historic cathedral, defying protection from COVID

For the record . . .

George Mikhailovich is “NOT” the first Romanov to marry in Russia since 1917, despite what the misinformed media are reporting! In fact, a total of six Romanov weddings have been held in Russia since 1917. It is interesting to note that the so-called “Russian Imperial House” headed by George’s mother Princess Maria Vladimirovna, has made no effort to correct this faux pas!

Between 1917 and 1920, five marriages among the members of the Russian Imperial House were concluded in Russia:

On 22nd April 1917, Prince Gabriel Konstantinovich (1887-1955) married Antonina Rafailovna Nesterovskaya (1890-1950) in Petrograd.

On the same day Prince Alexander Georgievich Romanovsky, Duke of Leichtenberg (1881-1942) married Nadezhda Nikolaevna Karelli (1883-1964) in Petrograd.

On 25th April 1917, Princess Nadezhda Petrovna (1898-1988) married Prince Nikolai Orlov (1891-1961).

On 18th July 1917, Princess Elena Georgievna Romanovskaya, Duchess of Leichtenberg (1892-1971) married Count Stefan Tyshkevich (1894-1976) in Yalta, Crimea.

On 25th November 1918, Prince Andrey Alexandrovich (1897-1981) married Duchess Elizabeth Sasso-Ruffo (1887-1940), in Ai-Todor, Crimea.

After being widowed in 1989, Prince Dimitri Romanovich (1926-2016) married Dorrit Reventlow (born 1942) in Kostroma on 28 July 1993. His second marriage was the “FIRST” time a Romanov had been married in Russia in more than a century.

Through his paternal lineage, Prince Dimitri was a great-great grandson of Emperor Nicholas I (1796–1855), who founded the Nikolaevich branch of the Russian Imperial Family. At his death on 31 December 2016, the male line of the Nicholaevich branch of the Romanov family died out.

Maria Vladimirovna and her half sister Helen Louise Kirby

An unimpressive guest list

In the weeks leading up to the wedding, Maria Vladimirovna’s public relations team issued press releases, detailing an impressive list of royals and dignitaries who would attend her son’s nuptials, in reality, however, none of them attended.

Prominent on the guest list was Queen Sofia of Spain, who was present at George’s christening, but she failed to attend. None of the many Romanov descendants scattered around the world were even invited, as Maria and her son, both look down their noses at them.

The guest list was unimpressive to say the very least, which included a few petty Russian politicians, although the Chairman of the Communist Party Gennady Zyuganov sent the couple a congratulation!

There were no reigning kings or queens of the European royal houses or ambassadors to represent them. The only “royals” in attendance, were a few princes and princesses and members of numerous, now defunct European royal houses.

In addition, the groom’s father Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia was notably “absent”. The wedding was also attended by Maria Vladimirovna’s half sister Helen Louise Kirby [born 1935], whose attendance, according to the Russian media, marked Helen Kirby’s first public appearance in 10 years.

Kirby is the daughter of Leonida Georgievna Bagration (1914-2010) and her first husband Sumner Moore Kirby (1895–1945), a wealthy American businessman, and one of the heirs to the F.W. Woolworth fortune.

Maria Vladimirovna is the daughter of Leonida Georgievna Bagration (1914-2010) and her second husband Vladimir Kirillovich Romanov (1917-1992). It is through her mother’s marriage to Kirby, that Maria enjoys a lavish lifestyle to this day, with homes in Madrid and Paris.

Despite the hoopla, those who gathered outside the cathedral were few and far between, many were there, simply out of curiosity.

It should also be noted, that no live broadcast of the wedding was conducted on any federal or regional TV channel in Russia. So much for the “Romanov wedding of the century!”

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Kudos to Russian president Vladimir Putin

The Interfax News Agency reported that while Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had been invited to the wedding of George Mikhailovich to Victoria Bettarini in St. Petersburg, would not be attending.

Putin also stated that he would not be congratulating the newlyweds either, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in response to the relevant question on Friday.

“No, the president is not planning to congratulate the newlyweds in any way. Once again, this wedding has absolutely nothing to do with our agenda,” Peskov said.

This is a clear indication that Putin does NOT recognize the current descendants – Maria Vladimirovna and her son George Mikhailovich, as anything more than Russian citizens.

In addition, the Interfax News Agency does not identify Maria and George by their self-adopted and false titles, “Grand Duchess” or “Grand Duke”.

The truth about Nicholas II

Why is this article relevant?

I am dedicated to clearing the name of Russia’s much slandered Tsar. This includes identifying those who broke their personal oath to Nicholas II, including George Mikhailovich’s great-grandfather Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich (1876-1938), a member of the Russian Imperial Family, who not only lacked a moral compass, but openly defied his Sovereign, culminating in committing treason against Him in 1917.

Under no pretext can we admit to the throne those whose ancestors belonged to parties involved in the 1917 revolution in one way or another. Nor can we admit those whose ancestors betrayed Tsar Nicholas II. Nor can we ignore those who ancestors openly supported the Nazis. Thus, without any reservations, the right to the succession to the throne of the Kirillovich branch should be excluded.

Any one who supports this branch of the family, dishonours the memory of the Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II.


[1] Russia has confirmed 7,612,317 cases of coronavirus and 210,801 deaths, according to the national coronavirus information center. On 1st October Russia recorded its highest coronavirus death toll for a fourth day running of 887 deaths. On 4th October, 25,781 new coronavirus cases and 883 deaths were recorded.

© Paul Gilbert. 4 October 2021

Putin’s negative assessment of Nicholas II

Putin’s attitude to Nicholas II

During his presidency, Vladimir Putin has spoken negatively about Nicholas II on more than one occasion, describing his role as a ruler “erroneous” and “absurd”. Putin believes that Nicholas II ruled the country incorrectly, made many mistakes, which is why Russia lost the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) and later lead Russia unprepared into the First World War. Putin further believes that during the war, Nicholas II personally made a number of errors of judgment and policy, which forced his highest ranking military officers to seek his removal from the throne by forcing the Tsar to abdicate. The main conspirators were mainly military leaders and self-serving politicians of the Duma.

Vladimir Putin has also publicly referred to Russia’s last tsar as “Bloody Nicholas” on more than one occasion. His negative attitude towards Nicholas II, however, does not reflect his assessment of other Russian monarchs, including the Emperors Peter I, Nicholas I, Alexander II, and Alexander III.

“Nicholas the Bloody”

A video has been circulating on YouTube for some years now, in which Putin is caught on camera making an insult towards Nicholas II. Entering his Kremlin office (probably on the day of his first inauguration on 7th May 2000), Putin responds to these words spoken by one of his aides: “From this roof [Grand Kremlin Palace], Nicholas II looked out over Moscow.”

“Well, he had nothing to do, so he ran across the roofs,” Russia’s new President remarked contemptuously.

During a meeting with members of construction teams in Sochi in the summer of 2011, Putin referred to the Tsar as “Nicholas the Bloody”. This epithet runs counter to both the position of the Russian Orthodox Church, which canonized Nicholas II on 20th August 2000, and with the ideology of the Russian authorities during the past 20 years.

Then, on 4th March 2014, during a press conference in Novo-Ogaryov on the events in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, Vladimir Putin once again, used the Soviet propaganda epithet “Nicholas the Bloody”. He was responding to a question by a journalist of the Interfax news agency, Putin said the following: “A simple Ukrainian citizen, a Ukrainian man suffered both under Nicholas the Bloody and under [Leonid] Kravchuk …”.

Then again, on 15th March 2014, the day marking the anniversary of the bloody February coup of 1917, in which Emperor Nicholas II  was forcibly removed from the throne, and who accepted a martyr’s crown on 17th July 1918, Putin during a press conference boorishly insulted the popularly revered Tsar-Martyr, referring to him as “Nicholas the Bloody”.

PHOTO: The inauguration of Russian President Vladimir Putin is held in the Andreevsky Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow. The thrones of Emperor Nicholas II, Empresses Alexandra Feodorovna and Maria Feodorovna, can be seen in the background.

Why is Putin negative about Nicholas II?

Vladimir Putin probably has a negative attitude towards Nicholas II, because he grew up in Soviet times, where, in principle, Nicholas II was presented as an unambiguously negative character, who refused to progress and generally failed any undertakings. It was during the Soviet years, that Russia’s last tsar was more often than not, referred to as “Bloody Nicholas” – old habits die hard.

During the Stalin era, documents and photographs which depicted the last tsar were seized and destroyed, as they were deemed as “ideologically harmful”. It was Joseph Stalin who ordered the Romanov archives closed and sealed. They were even off limits to historians, unless for propaganda purposes. Up until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, these private documents and photographs effectively lay untouched.

Russian historian Pyotr Multatuli notes: “Stalin forbade any mentioning of the hideous crime in Ekaterinburg, because he was well aware that it was working against his regime.

“Stalin, too, was building his empire, but it was an empire that did not have anything in common with the Russian Empire. Stalin’s empire did not pursue the interests of the Russian people. What was the nature of the Russian monarchy? There was God, the Tsar as the father of the people, and the people were his children, whom he loved, but whom he could also punish.”

Perhaps the key to unravelling Putin’s negative attitude towards Nicholas II lies in his words, spoken during a press conference on 22nd December 2010, when Putin served as Prime Minister of Russia under President Dmitry Medvedev:

“And, frankly speaking, he was not an important politician. Otherwise, the empire would have survived. Although this is not only his fault.”

Putin believes, that Nicholas II, as an autocrat, bears the main responsibility for what happened during his 22+ year reign, which resulted in the collapse of both the monarchy and the Russian Empire.

Putin is the only top Russian official who speaks out negatively against Nicholas II. The rest of the top officials, for example Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and Russia’s former Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky, have both only spoken positively about the last Tsar.

PHOTO: President Vladimir Putin posing in front of a portrait of Nicholas II, in the Museum of His Majesty’s Lifeguards Cossack Regiment in Courbevoie, France in 2008.

The Russian clergy evaluate Putin’s epithet

Putin’s criticisms of Nicholas II have offended both Orthodox Christians and monarchists over the years, however, Archpriest Valery Rozhnov of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), issued the following statement dated 7th March 2014:

“Since the words of the president in Russian political culture are often perceived as political truth, the phrase about the “Nicholas the Bloody” can have far-reaching consequences.

“As you know, the epithet was part of Soviet propaganda, which was based on many human lives during the reign of the last Russian emperor. However, after the collapse of the USSR, the rhetoric changed, and Nicholas II began to be presented as a victim of circumstances and a tragic figure. It was only when the Russian Orthodox Church canonized the tsar as a saint, that the authorities began to reassess Nicholas II. President Boris Yeltsin, for example, even participated in the burial of the tsar’s remains in the Peter and Paul Cathedral [17th July 1998].

“Through Putin’s words, Soviet rhetoric once again returned to official discourse. This can have serious consequences both for the Russian Orthodox Church and for Ekaterinburg, where Nicholas II became a figure of meaning. Ekaterinburg as a place of the execution of the royal family and a place of repentance for this crime has become a center of pilgrimage and tourism. There is a monument to the imperial family in the city; a church and a monastery were built in their honour. If Nicholas II is again declared “Bloody” and not saint, then this entire industry may be called into question.

“Whether the phrase dropped by Putin is yet another sign of the return of Soviet propaganda clichés, or is this just his personal opinion, which does not claim any ideological status, the position will become clear in the future. In particular, the rhetoric of Russian officials in relation to Nicholas II and tsarist Russia in general will be of particular interest, especially given the century since the beginning of the First World War.”

PHOTO: In 2016, Putin visited an exhibition dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the artist Valentin Serov, held at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. He was photographed admiring Serov’s iconic portrait of Emperor Nicholas II (1900).

Putin denounces Lenin for murder of Nicholas II

Since Putin’s rise to power, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has proclaimed the last tsar, his wife and children, as saints, which was viewed with fear in a country where the Imperial family are still victims of a century of myths and lies, much of which are based on Bolshevik propaganda. In addition to canonization, the Church also decided to build a grand church on the site where the family was murdered in Ekaterinburg on 17th July 1918. In 2003, during a visit to the Urals, President Putin visited the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg.

Despite the negative comments made by Putin, he has also made a number of positive gestures regarding Nicholas II, which left many people surprised. During a state visit to France in 2008, Putin visited the Museum of His Majesty’s Lifeguards Cossack Regiment in Courbevoie, where he posed in front of a portrait of the tsar.

On 25th January 2016, while speaking at an inter-regional forum of the All-Russia People’s Front, Vladimir Putin denounced Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, for “brutally executing Russia’s last Tsar along with all his family and servants”. Putin further criticized Lenin, accusing him of placing a “time bomb” under the state, and sharply denouncing brutal repressions by the Bolshevik government, murdering thousands of priests and innocent civilians.

In the weeks leasing up to the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Nicholas II, rumours in the Russian media speculated that Putin would attend the Patriarchal Liturgy, to be performed by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on the night of 16/17 July 2018. Sadly, this was not to be, instead, he flew to Helsinki, where he met with US president Donald Trump. More than 100,000 people from across Russia and around the world descended on the Ural capital to honour the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs.

Putin’s presence on the eve of the centenary, would have indeed been an historic event, one which perhaps would further seal post-Soviet Russia’s condemnation of the Bolsheviks for committing regicide, but also shedding the century of myths and lies, which perpetuated during the Soviet years.

Sadly, the 100th anniversary of the Romanovs’ deaths passed with little notice in Russia. The Russian government ignored the anniversary, as it surprisingly did the year before, when Russia marked the 100th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution. No prominent state museums or venues hosted events to mark the anniversary. The few exhibitions and other events organized were tellingly modest.

PHOTO: On 17th July 2019, members of the State Duma for the first time observed a minute of silence in memory of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II, and all those killed in the Civil War (1917-1922)

On a more positive note, on 17th July 2019 – Russia’s State Duma for the first time observed a minute of silence in memory of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II and all those killed in the Civil War. (1917-1922)

According to Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, “reconciliation begins when we all understand that this cannot be repeated and this is unacceptable.”

“Today we are making a proposal to honour the memory of the last Russian tsar, to honour the memory of the innocent victims – all those who died in the crucible of the Civil War,” the speaker addressed his colleagues, who after these words, rose from their seats.

It should come as no surprise that members of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, did not comply with the moment of silence.

The fact that this is the first time in the history of Russia’s State Duma, that they honoured the memory of Nicholas II is truly unprecedented! The minute of silence was repeated in 2020 and will be repeated each year from hereon.

Also, in 2019, in an unprecedented move, the Russian media reported that President Putin had urged the Russian Orthodox Church to “reach a verdict soon” on the Ekaterinburg Remains.  

PHOTO: portraits of Nicholas II and Vladimir Putin, by the contemporary Georgian artist David Datuna

© Paul Gilbert. 15 March 2021


Dear Reader

If you enjoy my articles, news stories and translations, 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 GoFundMePayPal, credit cardpersonal check or money order. Thank you for your consideration – PG

Putin, the Church and the last Tsar


Russian President Vladimir Putin

Since coming to power in 1999, Russian President Vladimir Putin has embraced the Russian Orthodox Church and the symbols of Imperial Russia

Today, the Romanovs are the subject of a rather unusual debate between two powers that have reconciled in Putin’s Russia: the Church and the State.

For more than two decades, the heads of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) – Patriarch Alexei II (1929-2008) and Patriarch Kirill (2009-present) – both refused to recognize the remains found in the vicinity of Ekaterinburg as those belonging to the Imperial family.

Even after successive DNA tests, the ROC prevented the bones of Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister Grand Duchess Maria from being buried with the rest of the their family in the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in St. Petersburg.

The issue made headlines again in July, when the Russian Investigative Committee, the country’s top criminal investigation body, confirmed that, after 37 new forensic analyzes, it was possible to conclude – again – that the bones belonged to members of the Imperial family.

“Based on the numerous findings of the experts, the investigation came to the conclusion that the remains belong to Nicholas II, his family and their retainers,” said a committee spokesperson.

But why does Russia’s leading criminal investigation body continue to reconfirm facts related to a homicide that happened more than a century ago?


President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

A long way

The whereabouts of the remains of the Imperial family were one of the best kept secrets during the Soviet period.

Only in 1979 did a geologist with an amateur detective streak, Alexander Avdonin, discover the first bones in the vicinity of Porosenkov Log, near Ekaterinburg.

Citing fear of reprisals from the regime, he reburied them where he found them and kept them there until 1991, after the Soviet Union disintegrated.

An extensive investigation and a series of DNA tests (for which even Prince Philip donated blood) proved that the bones belonged to Nicholas II, his wife, three of their five children and four retainers who were also murdered with the Imperial family.

One of the big questions Russia was asking at the time was where were the remains of the Imperial couple’s other two children. Anastasia’s whereabouts were also cause for speculation, but evidence has since proven that she died along with her family.

“In 1998, after a five-year investigation, the Russian government decided to bury the bones in the Romanovs family tomb in St. Peter and St. Paul’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, as a political gesture of reconciliation and atonement for the crimes committed in the Soviet period”, says Marina Alexandrova, a professor at the University of Texas, in the United States.

The Holy Synod, the governing body of the Orthodox Church, however, opposed the decision and called for a more thorough investigation before the burial.

“Due to the political motivation of the event and the absence of consultation with the Russian Orthodox Church, the patriarch did not participate in the ceremony and rejected the test results,” says the professor.

The country’s president at the time, Boris Yeltsin, challenged the Church and gave the green light for the funeral. The act was the background of great friction that marked the Yeltsin government and the head of the Orthodox Church – at the time still weakened by decades of Soviet oppression.

Yeltsin would resign shortly afterwards, on the night of December 31, 1999, leaving the post in the hands of his then prime minister, a former KGB agent who had become his discreet shadow: Vladimir Putin.

A new stage in the relationship between State and Church then began.


Emperor Nicholas II and Russian President Vladimir Putin

Putin, the Church and the last tsar

As Pablo de Orellana, professor at King’s College London, UK, explains, the beginning of Putin’s government marked a new phase, of “rescuing” the Romanov dynasty, which went beyond the golden double-headed eagles and other symbols of Imperial Russia.

“In his administration, some traditions of Tsarist Russia were re-instituted,”  he points out, “But I believe that one of the most important elements in this regard is the rebirth of the Orthodox Church, which has returned to being as powerful as before and is now recognized as the country’s official religion.”

In a referendum held in June to determine whether Putin would remain in power until 2035, Russians also voted Orthodoxy the country’s official religion, which was seen as a consolidation of relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Kremlin.

And it is in this new context that the Romanovs become key figures for the powers. “The Russian Imperial family is vital for the current regime and for the nationalist narrative that drives it, because it is the connection between Russia’s past and present, between the before and after of the Soviet regime,” says De Orellana.

“For the Church, the Romanovs’ theme is central, because the Russian Orthodox Church is part of the Imperial family and the Imperial family is part of the Church.”

Since Putin’s rise to power, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has proclaimed the last tsar, his wife and children, as saints, which was viewed with fear in a country where the Imperial family are still victims of a century of myths and lies, much of which are based on Bolshevik propaganda.

In addition to canonization, the Church also decided to build a grand church on the spot where the family was murdered in Ekaterinburg.

But one theme remained an obstacle: the authenticity of the remains of the last tsar.

“The Russian Church has been reluctant to recognize the bones as belonging to the Romanov family since they were officially exhumed in 1991 near Ekaterinburg,” says Alexandrova.

“And although multiple DNA tests and forensic analyzes in Russia and other countries have shown that they do indeed belong to the Imperial family, their doctor and three faithful servants, the issue remains controversial to this day.”


Alexei and Maria

The remains of the tsar’s two other children who were not found with the family were not discovered until many years later, in 2007.

“DNA tests carried out both inside and outside Russia have confirmed that they are the remains of Alexei and Maria,” says the professor at the University of Texas.

“The Russian Orthodox Church, however, again refused to acknowledge the discovery and denied the burial in the family tomb.”

In the years that followed, the boxes containing 44 bone fragments remained on dusty shelves in the Russian State Archives. In December 2015, their remains were transferred to the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow, where they remain to this day.

“Their remains have not yet been buried, which, ironically, runs counter to orthodox tradition in general.”


Members of the Imperial family were exhumed so that new DNA tests could be performed

New investigations

In 2008, the Russian Supreme Court officially rehabilitated the Imperial family and recognized that Nicholas II and his family were victims of political repression.

Two years later, another Russian court ordered the investigation into the murder to be reopened, which was in charge of the country’s top criminal investigation body.

In 2015, as determined by instances of the Orthodox Church, the remains of the Imperial family were once again exhumed and subjected to DNA tests, which confirmed again that it was the Tsar and his family – including Alexei and Maria.

The funeral of the last Romanovs was scheduled to take place in October of this year, but the Church asked to postpone the ceremony again to conduct an investigation of its own. “To date, no results have been announced,” says Alexandrova.

On the eve of the centenary of the massacre in 2018, the Russian government announced that the new investigation had once again confirmed that the bones belonged to the Romanovs. This year, again on a date close to the anniversary, they again released the findings.


The reasons for the debate

According to De Orellana, the dispute over the authenticity of the remains found in Ekaterinburg shows how, during the Putin government, the Church once again became a “legitimizing institution” – and that, therefore, “also legitimizes what one wants to tell about history. “.

“We see this in how the Church on several occasions had the final say, as in the question of where the bodies will be”, he points out.

In this sense, the expert believes that the position of the church in the case of the Romanovs generates a delicate political conflict.

“The Putin government needs to end the story, it needs the bodies to be ‘found’ also symbolically, ‘to bring them home’ and to have a place where they can be celebrated.”

“All this reconstruction is important, because Putin reinvented Russian nationalism based on the same nationalist theories as the tsars. In other words, it is not just an obsession to demonstrate that the bones actually belong to the last Tsar and his family, but an effort to establish continuity between the past and today’s Russia”, he adds.

Roman Lunkin, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society, a state organization, assesses that both the government and the Church are involved in a mutual process of revisionism of the history of Tsarism for “their own benefit”.

“The Russian Church does not want to recognize that the remains belong to the Imperial family, because there is a risk of internal division as a consequence of this,” he ponders.

According to Alexandrova, according to orthodox beliefs, it is a serious sin to pray before “false images”. The church, for its part, is reluctant to accept the result of the investigations carried out until today on the grounds that it was not invited to participate in the process.

There are still some people who believe that members of the Imperial family had managed to escape and live in secrecy in Europe and the United States.

“They think that what happened in 1918 was a ritual murder by Bolsheviks of Jewish origin. There is also a movement that sees Nicholas II as a Christlike figure who died for the sins of the Russians.”

Even if these movements are not really popular, he says, they would be strong enough to cause repercussions in the media, something that the head of the Church would certainly like to avoid.

“For the Church, the murder of the Imperial family is a symbol of all the evil of the Soviet period, of Satanism and of Marxist ideology. For the State, however, the Soviet period is also a period of victories – and the last tsar is not an example of a strong leader, “says Lunkin.

“So it is evident that the glorification of the Imperial family means different things for both the state and the church.”

© Paul Gilbert. 10 August 2020

Putin’s plan to restore the Romanovs


This 3-part series by Matthew Dal Santo was published in The Interpreter, which features in-depth analysis & expert commentary on the latest international events, published daily by the Lowry Institute.

Although dated – originally published in July 2016 – it is still an interesting and thought provoking read.

He is the author of the forthcoming book, A Tsar’s Life for the People: The Romanovs and the Redemption of Putin’s Russia, to be published by Princeton University Press.

Putin’s plan to restore the Romanovs (Part 1) published 16th July 2016

Official treatment of Stalin reflects the result of this impasse, neither to suppress nor promote popular support for his legacy.

Putin’s plan to restore the Romanovs (Part 2) published 17th July 2016

If there’s a Russian leader whose reputation has been unequivocally rehabilitated during the Putin era, it’s Nicholas II.

Putin’s plan to restore the Romanovs (Part 3) published 18th July 2016

Russian monarchists are remarkably fond of observing that nobody says Russia’s next tsar must be a Romanov.


Dr. Matthew Dal Santo has been a Danish Council Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen since 2014. He writes on conservatism as an ideological programme in modern Russia, with a special interest in Russian foreign policy. He has written analysis and commentary on Russian and European affairs for The Australian Broadcasting Casting Corporation (ABC) and has appeared on Radio National’s Counterpoint programme.

His work has been published by The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (Canberra, Australia), The Lowy Institute (Sydney, Australia), The Center for the National Interest (Washington, D.C.) , The Nation (New York), and The Spectator Australia. He travels frequently to Russia and is currently writing a book (provisionally entitled The Romanovs, 1917 and the Redemption of Putin’s Russia) on the cult of Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, and on how ordinary Russians see their country’s place in the world in the approach of the 2017 centenary of the Russian Revolution.

He studied history and European languages (BA first-class honours and University Medal) at the University of Sydney (1999-2004) and graduate-level history (MPhil, PhD) at the University of Cambridge (2004-9). In 2007, he was elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge and taught as an Associate Lecturer in Cambridge’s Faculty of History. In 2011, he entered the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Matthew speaks Russian, French, Italian, and Danish. He lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, with his wife and daughter.

© Paul Gilbert. 3 August 2020