Monument to Rasputin proposed for St. Petersburg

PHOTO: artist concept of the monument to Rasputin near the Alexander Palace

Earlier this week, a model of a proposed monument to Grigori Rasputin was shown to journalists, during a press conference held in St. Petersburg. The model – the fruit of five years of creative work by the artist – was displayed in Rasputin’s apartment on Gorokhovaya Street.

The monument is a project by the Artproekt sculptural workshop in Moscow, famous for its Orthodox patriotic sculptures. The studio’s most notable works include, Dmitry Donskoy, Alexander Nevsky, John of Kronstadt, Sergius of Radonezh, and Nicholas the Wonderworker.

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (1869-1916) remains one of the most controversial figures during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II. The head of the Artproekt workshop, Yevgeny Korolev, believes it is important to rethink the image of Rasputin: “All the claims against Rasputin are not confirmed by real documents, so what are the accusations against this man based on? One of the historians I spoke with wrote eight volumes in which he debunks these myths.”

The project is surrounded by a veil of secrecy, even the sculptor remains unknown at this time. The 2.5 m [8.2 ft.] monument depicts Rasputin [who stood 1.93 m / 6.3 ft.] carrying the Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich (1904-1918) in his arms.

PHOTO: model of the proposed monument on display in Rasputin’s apartment

The monument is almost ready – it only has to be cast in bronze, and the place for it’s installation has yet to be determined. The sculptor and his supporters believe that it should be installed in one of three places in or near St. Petersburg. For example, at Tsarskoye Selo, where Rasputin was originally buried in the Alexander Park; or next to the Petrovsky bridge, where his body was discovered in the Malaya Nevka; or in the garden of the Yusupov Palace, where he was murdered.

According to the the head of the restoration department Viktor Voronin, “It will be next to impossible to erect a monument in the garden of the palace. The Yusupov Palace is a cultural heritage site, where the installation, in principle, of new sculptural objects is prohibited by law.”

In late 1906, Rasputin began acting as a healer for Nicholas II’s only son and heir, Alexei, who suffered from haemophilia. He was a divisive figure at court, seen by some Russians as a mystic, visionary, and prophet, and by others as a religious charlatan. In the early morning of 30th December [O.S. 17th December] 1916, Rasputin was murdered by a group of conservative noblemen who opposed his alleged influence over Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Emperor Nicholas II.

PHOTO: detail of the proposed monument depicting Rasputin carrying Alexei

Historians often suggest that Rasputin’s scandalous and sinister reputation helped discredit the tsarist government and thus helped precipitate the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty a few weeks after he was murdered. Accounts of his life and influence were often based on hearsay and rumour.

In recent years, the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed some concern over the growing movement by some Orthodox Christians, who are calling for the canonization of the controversial and enigmatic figure of Grigori Efimovich Rasputin. Meanwhile, many other Orthodox Christians consider such a move as blasphemy.

This will be the second monument to Rasputin installed in Russia, the first was installed in Tyumen in 2014.

© Paul Gilbert. 8 March 2021

VIDEO: ‘The Lost Life of Alexei Romanov’ with Jonathan Jackson

The Lost Life of Alexei Romanov’ is the latest in a series of videos produced by the Mesa Potamos Publications, publishers of ‘The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal’ – my personal choice for Romanov Book of the Year in 2019.

Of particular note in this 38 minute English language video are the following images and newsreels:

Compare the image of Alexandra holding her newborn son at 1:39 with that of the haunting image at 4:46—what a shocking difference. Poor Alexandra looks tired, worn out both physically and emotionally from watching over and caring for her sick son. Click HERE to read my article “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged” – In Defence of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, published on 20th July 2020.

The newsreel footage of the 5 children laughing and playing on the deck of the Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’ from 5:37 to 6:43 made me laugh and smile. Both, however, faded into sadness, knowing the horrific fate which awaits them.

At 11:00 we see the children marching around the well, situated in the Italian Courtyard at Livadia Palace in Crimea, carrying their flowered banners for the White Flower Day festivities, and each wearing a Kodak camera around their necks.

At 20:21 we see a mischievous Alexei throwing a snowball at his tutor Pierre Gilliard, only to turn around and realize that his prank has been caught on camera, forcing him to laugh and run off.

At 23:16 Jonathan Jackson reads a letter written by Alexei to his friend Nikolai Vladimirovich Derevenko nicknamed “Kolya” (1906-2003), which was discovered after the murders in the Ipatiev House. Alexei concludes the letter with the prophetic words “The END”. This is followed by a very moving interview many years later with Kolya.

The most poignant moment in the video, however, has to be at 25:58. We see Alexei seated in a motorcar with Minister of the Imperial Court Count Vladimir Frederiks (1838-1927). At 26:11, Alexei turns around smiles and nods at the camera. It is a most fitting ending.

Narrator Jonathan Jackson offers a heartfelt chat at the end. A devout Orthodox Christian, Jackson shares with viewers his love for the Holy Royal Martyrs. His words will reflect those of many viewers, regardless of their respective faith or beliefs.

Personally, I was profoundly moved by this video about Tsesarevich Alexei. The exceptional newsreel footage brings the heir to the throne to life. This combined with the black and white archival photographs, the astounding colourizations by Olga Shirnina, and narration by Jonathan Jackson make this one of the finest videos produced by the Mesa Potamos Publications to date.

Holy Royal Martyrs, pray to God for us!

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.

© Paul Gilbert. 16 December 2020

Faithful to the End: Klimenty Nagorny and Ivan Sednev 

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

Today – 28th June 2020, marks the 102nd anniversary of the death and martyrdom of two faithful servants to Emperor Nicholas II and his family – Klimenty Grigorievich Nagorny and Ivan Dmitriyevich Sednev. 

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

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Nagorny and Tsesarevich Alexei in Tsarskoe Selo, 1907

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

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

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

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

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

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

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Sednev and Alexeei Nikolaevich, in the Finnish skerries, 1914 

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

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

© Paul Gilbert. 28 June 2020