Nicholas II in the NEWS – July 2020

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At the end of each month I will post links to noteworthy articles about Nicholas II from English language media sources, complemented with photos and videos.

Please click on the titles (highlighted) below to read each respective article:

Inherited Love: On the families of the parents of holy Royal Martyrs Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra by Xenia Grinkova. Published in Russian Orthodoxy on 31st July 2020

When we look at the life of the holy Royal Passion-Bearers, their podvig as a family strikes us most. Truly, they succeeded in embodying the Christian family ideals on the earth and bringing up their daughters and son in it like nobody else. And, of course, it was from their wise parents that the saints, like “most honorable branches of the pious root” (from the service to Right-Believing Prince Alexander Nevsky), received the rudiments of what later blossomed forth and led them to heavenly abodes.

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The Khodynka tragedy: A coronation ruined by a stampede by Yulia Afanasyenko Published in Russia Beyond on 23rd July 2020

A huge public celebration of the coronation of Nicholas II was planned at the Khodynskoe field in Moscow, but poor organizing caused a disaster.

This terrible tragedy is one in which contemporary historians like to flog like a dead horse, some of whom blame the newly crowned emperor for the incident. Sadly, it is one which haunted him to the final days of his reign.

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A Life Blessed by the Tsaritsa by Vladimir Soloviev. Published in Russian Orthodoxy on 17th July 2020

Not long ago was the fortieth day after the repose of Archbishop Agapit (Gorachek) of Stuttgart (ROCOR). More and more reminiscences about this remarkable man have been sent to the Russian website Pravoslavie.ru and continue to come; that is what an indelible impression this bright personality has left in the hearts of those who knew him.

This is a story of Archbishop Agapit, but through him of the “Ekaterinburg remains”—bone fragments discovered in a gully outside Ekaterinburg, which recent investigations have shown with near certainty to be those of the Royal Family. These investigations were conducted for over ten years on the highest level. They encompassed all aspects of forensic science, including genetic testing in a number of laboratories. It is told by one of the main investigators, who through his work gained a personal understanding of Archbishop Agapit’s close connection with the Holy Royal Martyrs and his service to them in this important matter.

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VIDEO OF THE MONTH: Nicholas II. The Early Years

Rare photographs from the childhood and teenage years of Tsar Nicholas II, whose exceptional virtues from his earliest years of age were politeness, affability, and affection. His characteristic shy, tender, and somewhat sad smile always made an impression on all. He tried to see only the good side of people and was ready to show love to all.

All the quotes used in the captions of this video are from the book “The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal”.

Duration: 8 minutes, 47 seconds

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THANK YOU to every one who responded to my annual summer appeal for donations. Your contributions will help me greatly with my research to clear the name of Russia’s much slandered tsar during the coming year ahead.

There are many web sites, blogs and Facebook pages dedicated to the Romanovs. Therefore, I am especially grateful to those of you who follow my work faithfully on a daily basis.

I work very hard searching Russian archival and media sources to bring something new to the table every day. This includes articles researched by a new generation of Russian historians; news on the Romanovs, their palaces, exhibitions, etc; photos, videos and more.

Click HERE to make a donation with GoFundMe

Click HERE to make a donation by credit card or PayPal

Click HERE to make a donation by personal check or money order

THANK YOU for your consideration, and for your continued interest and support of my work.

PAUL GILBERT
Independent Researcher and Publisher

© Paul Gilbert. 31 July 2020

Documentary – The Murder of the Romanovs: Facts and Myths

Daria Strizhova talks with Elena Chavchavadze about her new documentary. Please note that this video is only available in Russian (click on the image above to watch)

On July 19, the television channel Russia-1 showed the second film of “The Murder of the Romanovs” documentary project. This new Russian-language documentary sheds light on one of the most tragic pages in the history of the Russian state.

The first film, “Regicide: A Century-long Investigation” tells about the origins of the investigation into the murder of the Imperial Family. The second part, “Murder of the Romanovs: Facts and Myths” is the result of the painstaking research work by E. N. Chavchavadze and G. I. Ogurnaya—who together, introduce the viewer to unique archival documents.

—Elena Nikolaevna, tell us about the background of making these films dedicated to the Imperial Family. How did it all begin?

—Part of the code of honor for me and my family is to always seek the truth in everything. By the time we started working on the films on the murder of the Romanov Dynasty for the TV channel Russia, we had already filmed five episodes of the series, “Romanovs: A Royal Matter,” “War and Peace of Alexander I,” “Alexander III: Strong, Powerful.” The material itself showed us which direction to go next. And it was impossible to avoid the topic of regicide.

I was worried, realizing that the topic is too big. Let’s recall the words of Voykov who said: “The world will never find out what we did to them.” This poses a challenge to researchers. Is it possible to unravel this tragic mystery? But you know how it is: Fear has big eyes. As far as I know, a number of fundamental studies by anthropologists, criminologists, geneticists, graphologists, and other scientists are nearing completion. And we hope that the next film in the cycle will be dedicated to the results of this long-term work.

—Your film is called, “Murder of the Romanovs: Facts and Myths.” I’d like to dwell on this in more detail. What is a fact and what is a deliberately created myth? The film quotes Lenin’s words: “We don’t need to tell Joffe the truth (about the murder), so it will be easier for him to lie later.”

—We tried to clearly show the mechanism by which a myth turns into fact, and a fact becomes a myth and dissolves with time.

I must say that the plan of “blurring” the truth worked on a global level. All the Bolsheviks’ negotiations and diplomatic correspondence was constructed so as to divert suspicion away from the top of the Soviet leadership. This is a very thoughtful, masterly calculation. Only such a position would have allowed them to remain in power, as at that time they were entirely dependent upon Germany.

And how “interesting” the newspaper articles were! How well they were edited—again with an understanding of the colossal power of influence on the public consciousness! It’s in the papers, so it must be true.

When the investigator Sokolov managed, with much difficulty, through Prince Orlov’s agency in Russia, to get an agitation pamphlet talking about the murder of the Imperial Family while he was in France, he included it to the case. But this primitive article, intended for the proletariat, had been carefully edited by someone by then. We don’t know who the editor was, but probably it was Pokrovsky, a famous falsifier of history. But he was certainly a very astute man. But unfortunately, Sokolov took it all at face value. And today many people adhere to the theory that was presented in his book, because it was the only work on the topic of regicide at the time. And given that the book was created under certain conditions, under the pressure of the circumstances, and on the basis of such obviously unreliable documents, who will figure out the truth? The investigator Sokolov did a great job, and no one belittles the significance of his works for history. But, you know, the details settle everything.

—Unfortunately, the majority form their personal opinion not based on documents, not on the materials of the investigation, but on articles in the press and online. How many books have been written justifying this or that theory!

—And therefore, I think it’s necessary to dive into the archival material, to compare facts. Who was familiar with whom and when; where could this or that declaration have come from? Beginning my work on the film, the director G. Ogurnaya and I decided not to stick to any of the previously voiced theories. We simply did our work, during which connections and details started to emerge. Our films feature previously unknown documents that have only now become available—in particular, the note of Colonel Baftalovsky, which is of great interest. It is the testimony of the officers who were the first to arrive at Ganina Yama.

—There is an opinion, including from experts, that they could in no way have destroyed their bodies at Ganina Yama; and there are opposite statements as well. This is difficult to understand…

—Clothing and personal items were burned. Baftalovsky’s note is a very important testimony. Undoubtedly, the interest around this topic is so great that various people sprout up like mushrooms in the information space, clearly and colorfully expounding various theories. And amateur trackers—they are innumerable—sometimes write appalling nonsense. But people believe them, revere them, and look up to them. But there is another position, which was voiced by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, and for us it is the only true and possible one: it is the path of painstaking work and conscientious scientific methods. I believe the truth will be voiced by the Russian Orthodox Church.

The first film—“Regicide: A Century-long Investigation”—is dedicated exclusively to the murder that was committed in the Ipatiev House. The second film—“Murder of the Romanovs: Facts and Myths,” which was aired thanks to the channel Russia-1 and the History of the Fatherland Foundation—covers a short period of time in the summer of 1918 and reveals a certain connection between three crimes. At first we had the idea of focusing more on each of the events and making an individual film for each—on Perm, Alapaevsk, and Ekaterinburg—and we could have gathered enough material for this. But, unfortunately, we were limited by screen time. So we tried to isolate the main points.

Even now you can find opinions among the researchers dealing with the Romanovs that, for example, Alapaevsk (the murder of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth) and Perm (the murder of Grand Duke Michael) were both the decision of the local Council of People’s Commissars. Gabriel Myasnikov, for example, wrote an entire book about this. But when we went to Perm and started talking with people who work in the archives with the originals, we were presented a completely different picture. We were fortunate enough to meet some wonderful archivists.

—You managed to convey their very conscientious attitude to the work: It’s not just an academic interest, but a deep personal experience.

—People work for decades with great love for their inconspicuous but extremely important work, not expecting any encouragement or reward. They know their topic incredibly well. As you have correctly noted, they perceive what happened as if it happened yesterday in front of their eyes. Just like us, they perceive these events very deeply, and I’m glad that our joint work on the film expands our circle of not only professional acquaintances, but also personal ones.

—The film provides a unique archival audio recording. How did you manage to get it?

—It’s a restored archival audio recording that was preserved as “top secret.” It just recently became available to researchers, and, indeed, it sheds light on many facts. Other materials are stored in the Russian state archive of socio-political history. Many storylines from this story were not included in the film. We would be happy to continue this work, but not before all the appointed examinations are finished. This is science, not the pursuit of spectacular sensations. Even if the resolution of the investigation doesn’t suit someone, or disappoints someone, or someone says: “No, it can’t be,” because some materials came from people who aren’t very religious, for example—it’s still an insufficient argument.

—How much only the information trail from Geliy Ryabov is worth…

—Geliy Ryabov became a believer in much thanks to what happened. He spoke with Archpriest Alexander Shargunov and passed on some of his findings to him. We filmed Fr. Alexander for “Regicide: A Century-long Investigation.” Ryabov’s second wife told us a lot. All the circumstances of his story turned out to be simpler and more logical, and in the end, everything really falls into place, like pieces of a puzzle.¹

The murder of Tsar Nicholas II is spoken of as a ritual act, but it would be more correct to speak of it as sacred; and I, as a researcher, cannot completely deny this. But to be fair, it should be said that when we were in New York, working with newspapers published before the revolutionary events of 1917, we came across cartoons in articles about Russia where the head of Emperor Nicholas II was drawn separately. Can be this be considered an argument for the theory about his decapitation? I don’t think so. Why would they have carried his head to Moscow, thus taking a completely unjustified risk, since random people could have witnessed it? And as you’ve probably already realized from the documents presented in our film, the last thing in the world Lenin and his cohorts wanted was to be connected with the murder of Emperor Nicholas—for political gain, of course. And these people knew how to appreciate benefits.

—In other words, the expression “sacred murder” has a symbolic meaning?

—The expression “sacred murder” is just not only in relation to the Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, but first of all to Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, who in fact was the main contender for the Russian throne.

The reception of power was postponed until the Constituent Assembly was called. And if Kolchak had managed to win, no doubt the Constituent or National Assembly would have been called first. It’s quite likely that it would have called Michael Alexandrovich to head the state, because the dynasty was not interrupted. The Pavlovian Laws (the Act of Succession of 1797) provided that if someone leaves, then another member of the dynasty is placed on the throne by force of law, “so the state wouldn’t be without heirs, so the heir would be appointed by the law itself, so there wouldn’t be even the slightest doubt as to who is to inherit, so as to preserve the right of birth in the inheritance, without violating the rights of the natural heir, and to avoid difficulties in the transition from generation to generation.”

That’s why the murder of Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich was first. The Bolsheviks weren’t sure of their position; they had to hurry. According to the documentary evidence, the greatest amount of disinformation was aimed at concealing the murder of Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich.

As bitter as it is to realize, investigator Sokolov and other researchers paid very little attention to the investigation in Perm. The official story is that it was a disappearance. A man disappeared. He was there, and then he suddenly disappeared. There was a lot of evidence that he was seen here and there, then in Harbin, then somewhere else. The officers swore they caught a glimpse of him in the crowd—a mass psychosis, an unwillingness to accept the reality. If Michael Alexandrovich is alive—no matter where—it means they have hope. And Russia has hope. Do you get it? This is a very deep motive. And it is this motive that can cast doubt on all such evidence taken together.

When we put the three murders in a line, a lot of things became obvious. At that time, the English Consul Preston—who reported in London on what was happening—was in Ekaterinburg, along with a mass of representatives of international organizations, including the American, Finnish, and Swedish Red Cross. It was full of outside observers. The Brest Peace, which was treasonous to Russia, had already been concluded. The Germans were sitting in the Council of People’s Commissars—just like the Americans sat in our government under Chubais² a few decades later.

—There is the view that a “ticking time bomb” was placed under the edifice of the Russian state at this time. What do you think about this?

—I agree with this hypothesis. It’s no accident that the name “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” doesn’t have the word “Russia” in it. An interesting fact: In August 1916 in Switzerland, there was a meeting of bankers from warring powers, including Germany, to which Russia was not invited.

Russia was to be divided into spheres of influence according to the principle of divide and conquer. This would have been impossible to do under the existing monarchy. Lenin was entrusted with ensuring that Russia lose the war. The plan was to have Russia leave the war through the revolution and, as a result, violate the agreements with its allies about how no one warring party should conclude a separate peace treaty. This would automatically exclude Russia from the list of future winners, which is what happened. A massive information attack to discredit Tsar Nicholas II was carried out throughout the entire world. When we were dealing with this historical period for the film “Revolution: A Trap for Russia” and were communicating with English researchers, they said that in England society was even more certain than in Russia that revolution was coming in Russia, that the Tsaritsa was a German spy, and that everything was controlled by Gregory Rasputin, and so on. That’s how the propaganda worked.

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—One of the conclusions of your film is that the facts of the history are very malleable, and to establish the truth, we still have to reexamine and reevaluate our past. The question for modern man is: If this was done on such a scale and with such success, is it possible that the mechanism turning myths into facts is still active today?

—Of course. We see this in the example of our brothers in Ukraine, or if we look at what is happening in the United States right now. If we replace the word “proletariat” with “black,” we’ll get a traced copy of the events of a century ago in Russia. The scenery changes, but the rhetoric remains the same: “oppressors and the oppressed”—it’s nothing new.

There’s an expression: You have to accept your past, your successes, and your failures. It seems to me this is happening in Russia now. The best thing we can do is to accept the historical truth. It’s my Russia, and I accept its history as God gave it to us, to paraphrase Pushkin.

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1. Together with Alexander Avdonin, in 1979, Ryabov discovered the remains that are believed to belong to the Royal Martyrs.—Trans.

2. A Russian politician and businessman who was responsible for privatization in Russia as an influential member of Boris Yeltsin’s administration in the early 1990s—Trans.

© Daria Strizhova / Pravoslavie.ru. Translated by Jesse Dominick. 27 July 2020

10,000 march in Royal Martyrs procession in Ekaterinburg

The Ekaterinburg Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church hosted its annual Divine Liturgy and Cross Procession in honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs last night from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers in Ganina Yama.

Some 10,000 Orthodox faithful joined in the Cross Procession this year, from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs, built on the site where the remains of Nicholas II, his family and four retainers were first callously discarded, before they were later reburied at Porosenkov Log some 1.3 km away.

The size of the procession was significantly reduced this year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The local authorities had urged the faithful not to participate. In 2018, 100,000 participated in the Divine Liturgy and Cross Procession on the 100th anniversary of the Holy Royal Martyrs, and 60,000 in 2019.

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The evening began with the Divine Liturgy celebrated on the square in front of the Church on the Blood by Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhotursky , His Grace Bishop Methody of Kamensk, His Grace Bishop Evgeny of Nizhny Tagil, His Grace Bishop Alexei of Serov, and His Grace Bishop Leonid of Argentina and South America.

After the Divine Liturgy, the faithful began a 21-km Cross Procession, along the same route used to transport the murderers used to transport the bodies of the murdered Tsar Nicholas II and his family in 1918.

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The procession was accompanied throughout by mobile groups from the Orthodox Mercy service, Tsar’s Days volunteers, representatives from the Nika charitable foundation, and Cossacks of the Orenburg Military Cossack Society, all of whom provided various means of assistance to the pilgrims.

Around 6:00 AM, the procession headed by Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhotursky and the hierarchs and clergy reached the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs, where the monks greeted the pilgrims with the ringing of the monastery bells.

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Upon arrival, a moleben was served to the Holy Royal Martyrs and Metropolitan Kirill addressed the faithful:

“We pray and believe that the Lord, through the prayers of the Holy Royal Martyrs and Confessors of our Church, still preserves our land and covers it with His Heavenly covering. We hope that with God’s help we will lead an Orthodox Christian way of life and will take an example from righteous people, such as the Holy Royal Family and their faithful retainers, and all those who laid down their lives for our homeland and our Holy Church. Through their prayers, the Lord will forgive and have mercy on all of us by the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Holy Royal Martyrs, and all the saints who have pleased God from time immemorial.”

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The Tsar’s Days celebrations continue tonight in Alapaevsk where the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodoron, the Nun Barbara, and Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, the Princes of the Imperial Blood Ioann (John) Konstantinovich, Konstantin Konstantinovich, Igor Konstantinovich, and Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley, and Grand Duke Sergei’s secretary Fyodor Remez were martyred on July 18, 1918.

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Святой Царь Мученик Николай, Моли Бога о Нас!
Holy Royal Martyr Nicholas II, Pray to God for Us!

© Paul Gilbert. 17 July 2020

‘Nicholas II: The Last Orthodox Tsar of Russia’ with Paul Gilbert

Emperor Nicholas II reigned for 22 years. With his murder, the last Orthodox Christian monarch, along with the thousand-year history of thrones and crowns in Russia, ended, ushering in an era of lawlessness, apostasy, and confusion, one which would sweep Holy Orthodox Russia into an abyss which would last more than 70 years.

This new video production is based on the research of project colleague and independent researcher Paul Gilbert, who also presents this video.

In the first 24 hours of it’s release on YouTube, some 3,000 people had watched the video!

The creators have done a remarkable job of incorporating a wonderful collection of photos – both vintage B&W and colourized by Olga Shirnina (aka KLIMBIM) – vintage newsreel film footage and music.

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Vintage B&W photo of Nicholas II colourized by Olga Shirnina (aka KLIMBIM)

One viewer noted on his Facebook page: “Only 20 minutes long, this is the BEST portrayal of the last Tsar’s Orthodox faith I have ever seen. Very well-made, historical and moving.”

The crowning moment of the video is near the end, which shows film footage of the actual canonization ceremony performed on 20th August 2000 by Patriarch Alexei II (1929-2008) in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. You can hear His Holiness calling out each of the names of the Imperial Family. The footage is extremely moving to watch.

This 20-minute video is presented in the framework of the production of the book The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal published by Mesa Potamos Publications in 2019.

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The Romanov Royal Martyrs 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, colourized by the acclaimed Russian artist Olga Shirnina (Klimbim), and appearing here in print for the first time.

Click HERE to read my review Romanov Book of the Year: The Romanov Royal Martyrs

Click HERE to explore the book. Click HERE to order the book

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I am truly honoured to be a research colleague of this important publishing project. I am most grateful to Father Prodromos Nikolaou and the Holy Monastery of St. John the Forerunner of Mesa Potamos in Cyprus for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this new video which tells the story about Russia’s last Orthodox Christian monarch.

This is my second video produced within the framework of the production of the book The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal published by Mesa Potamos Publications in 2019. My first video The Conspiracy Against Nicholas II was released in 2018 with more than 32,000 views to date:

© Paul Gilbert / Holy Monastery of St. John the Forerunner of Mesa Potamos. 9 July 2020

Nicholas II in the NEWS – June 2020

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PHOTO: Portrait of Emperor Nicholas II in the uniform of colonel of the Austro-Hungarian 5th Uhlan regiment, painted in 1899 by Artist: Ernst Friedrich von Liphart (1847-1932)

From the Collection of the Hrvatski povijesni muzej / Croatian History Museum in Zagreb, Croatia

At the end of each month I will post links to noteworthy articles about Nicholas II from English language media sources, complemented with photos and videos.

Please click on the titles (highlighted) below to read each respective article:

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On the Russian Revolution and Today (Do not be a Robert Service) by John Mark N. Reynolds. Published in Patheos on 29th June 2020

John Mark N. Reynolds writes probably the most honest assessment to date of what has to be one of the WORST books ever written about Nicholas II.

I am referring to ‘The Last of the Tsars: Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution‘ written by the “Sovietologist” Robert Service and published in 2017 by Macmillian..

Reynolds writes: “Service thinks the last Tsar mentally inflexible . . . but Service does nothing to prove this is so” . . . Nicholas II was “intellectually inflexible, but Robert Service does not prove that fact” . . . etc., etc.

Reynolds rightly notes that ‘The Last of the Tsars: Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution‘ is a “throw away book”, and I could not agree more!

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Alex Webber visits Carska

Tsar Trek by Alex Webber. Published in THEfirstNEWS on 25th June 2020

Alex Webber writes in the Polish-English language newspaper THEfirstTIMES about Nicholas II and his former hunting palace Białowieża.

While the hunting palace has not survived, the former elegant private station for the Imperial family has! A visionary benefactor has revived the rotting station as a Tsarist-themed hotel named Carska.

Perched on a disused railway siding sit four saloon wagons, each lovingly reinvented as an opulent suite. [It is important to note that these are NOT part of the Imperial Train, the last wagons of which were destroyed at Peterhof in 1941 – PG]

“The magical world of Carska is not unlike waking up trapped in the pages of a novel by Tolstoy,” says Webber. “This is not a hotel, I think to myself, but a portal to another time.”

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The cross procession in Ekaterinburg is held annually on 17th July

Church Hopes to Hold Annual Royal Martyrs Procession in Ekaterinburg Despite Coronavirus. Published in Orthodox Christianity on 24th June 2020

Preparations are underway in the Ekaterinburg Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church for the annual Royal Days celebrations in honor of the holy Royal Martyrs, who were brutally murdered in Ekaterinburg on the night of July 16-17, 1918.

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Monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II in Zlatoust

Tsar Nicholas II Monument Defaced on Cathedral Grounds in Urals. Published in Orthodox Christianity on 18th June 2020

It seems that the toppling and vandalizing of monuments has become the “norm” in today’s society.

A monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II in the Russian city of Zlatoust is the latest target

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VIDEO OF THE MONTH: Laying the Foundation Stone Ceremony and Feast of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo on 2 September (O.S. 20 August) 1909

Much of this historic newsreel is new to me! Please take a few moments to watch Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family laying foundation stones for the cathedral which served as the family church during their residency in the nearby Alexander Palace.

At 2:05 we see the Emperor greeting dignitaries and other guests, presenting each with a small icon.

From the Russian State Documentary Film & Photo Archive (RGAKFD). Duration: 3 minutes, 5 seconds

© Paul Gilbert. 30 June 2020

Nicholas II: Recommended CDs

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For those of you who share an interest in Russia’s last emperor and tsar, I highly recommend these CDs, both of which feature music honouring his life and reign.

The first, God Save the Tsar. Military Band Music of Imperial Russia (2013) features 25 archival recordings from 1900 to 1912. Of particular note are 2 versions of ‘God, Save the Tsar!’ assorted regimental marches which include ‘Tsesarevich Nikolai Alexandrovich March of 6 May 1892’, among others.

This CD includes an illustrated 36 page booklet, which includes the following 3 essays: The Last Tsar; Military Music in Imperial Russia; Russian Military Music in the Reign of Nicholas II; as well as notes on each of the 25 recordings featured on this excellent CD.

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The second, Царь Николай / Tsar Nikolai (1999) features 12 recordings by the prominent Russian singer and folk musician. Zhanna Bichevskaya (born 1944).

Her voice, her words touch one’s soul. Some critics have dubbed her the Russian Joan Baez. Her unique style of music is often described as Russian country-folk. She performed a series of White Guard officer’s songs, as well as a series of patriotic, monarchist and religious songs, including songs dedicated to the Romanov Holy Martyrs. One does not need to understand Russian to be touched by these beautiful songs.

NOTE: this CD can also be ordered from online shops that specialize in CDs imported from Russia, some of which are located in the United States.

Of particular note on this CD is the haunting title track Царь Николай (Tsar Nikolai) – click on the video below to listen to his beautiful melody. The video features vintage film footage of Nicholas II and his family.

© Paul Gilbert. 29 June 2020

Nicholas II Vintage Newsreels No. 1 – 5

No. 1 – Emperor Nicholas II in Crimea. Easter 1916

For Orthodox Christians, the annual Orthodox feast is Easter, which is celebrated lavishly with family. On that day, all the children of God are equal.

If possible, Emperor Nicholas II and his family spent Easter at Livadia. The Emperor and Empress greeted the entire household with the traditional three kisses of blessing, welcome and joy. To members of the Court and the Imperial Guard, the sovereigns gave their famous Easter eggs. Some were simple: exquisitely painted eggshells from which the yolk had been drawn through tiny pinholes. Others were more elaborate created by Faberge.

As seen in this vintage newsreel, the tsar exchanges the traditional three kisses of blessing, welcome and joy to each officer and soldier, repeating the words ’Christ is Risen!’ to which the soldier replies ’Truly, he risen!’ Each is presented with an egg, which are carried in small wooden boxes by a line of officers, who are laden with boxes filled with Easter eggs

Sir John Hanbury-Williams recalled in his diary on 23rd April 1916:

“A perfectly beautiful Easter morning. There bad been a midnight service, and then we all paraded at the Imperial house, H.I.M. presenting us each with china Easter eggs made by Fabergé.”

Duration: 1 minute, 24 seconds with musical background

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No. 2 – Emperor Nicholas II in Smolensk. 31st August 1912

The newsreel opens with the Imperial Train arriving at the railway station in Smolensk, whereby the Emperor walks down the platform to review the honour guard. He is then seen receiving gifts and the traditional bread and salt from local officials and dignitaries.

At 2:39, you will notice a rather plump chap appearing from the right hand side of the screen. This is Prince Vladimir Nikolaevich Orlov (1868-1927), one of Nicholas II’s closest advisors. Between 1906-1915, Orlov headed the Emperor’s Military Cabinet, he also served as the the Emperor’s personal chauffeur. For many years, he was one of Nicholas II’s most trusted aides, however, his negative feelings towards Rasputin, eventually led to his dismissal from the Imperial Court.

Further into the newsreel, we see carriages carrying the Imperial Family arriving at the Cathedral Church of the Assumption. Their visit coincided with events marking the 100th anniversary of the Patriotic War of 1812. Upon leaving the cathedral, they pass by students of the Smolensk Diocesan School. If you watch closely, you will see the dedicated Minister of the Imperial Court, Baron V.B. Fredericks, who constantly shadowed the Emperor.

The newsreel concludes with a view of the Imperial Family, standing on a hill overlooking Smolensk.

Duration: 5 minutes, 54 seconds with musical background

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No. 3 – French President Raymond Poincare’s State Visit to Russia, 1912-1914

In this newsreel we see Emperor Nicholas II with President Raymond Poincare of France at Krasnoye Selo, the summer military capital of the Russian Empire. We see Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and her daughters getting into some of the fine automobiles which the Emperor was so fond of.

This is followed by a parade of grand dukes and generals on horseback. Empress Alexandra Feodorovna is then seen riding in an open carriage with President Raymond Poincare, the Emperor on horseback riding along side.

Members of the Imperial Family join Poincare in a tent, positioned on a slight hill, where they can witness manoeuvres in honour of the French president’s state visit. Towards the end of the footage, the Empress is seen nodding as soldiers file past the tent and its guests.

Duration: 4 minutes, 19 seconds, no audio

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No. 4 – Emperor Nicholas II at Revel in 1908

[1] Arrival of the Imperial train in Revel (modern day Tallinn, Estonia). We see Emperor Nicholas II, along with members of his family and retinue walking along the platform

[2] A launch carries the Emperor and his family to the Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’

[3[ Arrival of a train in Revel carrying the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, Queen Olga of Greece, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, Prince P.A. Oldenburg, among others

[4] A launch carries the Dowager Empress and members of the Imperial Family to the Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’

[5] The arrival of the British Royal Yacht ‘Victoria and Albert’, carrying King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra at Revel, 27th May 1908

Duration: 8 minutes, 30 seconds with musical background

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No. 5 – Historic visit to Riga in the summer of 1910 by Emperor Nicholas II

At the beginning of the newsreel we see the Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’ sailing into the harbour. It is one thing to admire the ‘Standart’ in photographs, however, it is only when one views it in a moving image, that one can put into perspective the sheer size of this magnificent “floating palace” – 128 m (420 feet) in length and 5557 tons standard in weight. It was the envy of all the royal houses of Europe and Great Britain.

Nicholas II’s visited Riga with his family for three days – from 3 to 5 July 1910. The Imperial Family arrived for the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the capture of Riga from Sweden by Russian troops, making it part of the Russian Empire.

The highlight of the visit was the grand opening and consecration of the monument to Emperor Peter I on the Alexander Boulevard in Riga, which is also featured in this video.

Alexandre Spiridovitch writes about the tsar’s 1910 visit to Riga in his memoirs Last Years of the Court at Tsarskoe Selo Volume II (1910-1914) – first English language edition published in 2017 [now out of print].

Duration: 5 minutes, 1 second with Russian language audio

© Paul Gilbert. 26 April 2020

VIDEO: French President Raymond Poincare’s State Visit to Russia

I am delighted to share this vintage newsreel depicting French President Raymond Poincare’s State Visit to Russia. Pomcare visited Tsar Nicholas II in St. Petersburg on two occasions in 1912 and 1914.

Pomcare visited Tsar Nicholas II in August 1912, to bolster France’s military alliance with the Tsarist state.

In his book July 1914: Countdown to War (published in 2014) Russian historian Sean McMeekin claims that Poincaré won election as President of the Republic in 1913, his electoral victory aided by some two million francs in Russian bribes to the French press.

In 1913, it had been announced that Poincaré would visit St. Petersburg in July 1914 to meet Tsar Nicholas II. Accompanied by Premier René Viviani, Poincaré returned to Russia for the second time (but for the first time as president) to reinforce the Franco-Russian Alliance and giving France’s support for Russian military mobilization during the July Crisis of 1914.

In this newsreel we see Emperor Nicholas II with President Raymond Poincare of France at Krasnoye Selo, the summer military capital of the Russian Empire. We see Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and her daughters getting into some of the fine automobiles which the Emperor was so fond of.

This is followed by a parade of grand dukes and generals on horseback. Empress Alexandra Feodorovna is then seen riding in an open carriage with President Raymond Poincare, the Emperor on horseback riding along side.

Members of the Imperial Family join Poincare in a tent, positioned on a slight hill, where they can witness manoeuvres in honour of the French president’s state visit. Towards the end of the footage, the Empress is seen nodding as soldiers file past the tent and its guests.

Duration 4 mins., 19 sec. Very impressive!

© Paul Gilbert. 17 April 2020

VIDEO: Visit of Emperor Nicholas II to Riga, July 1910

This vintage newsreel captures events of the historic visit to Riga in the summer of 1910 by Emperor Nicholas II.

At the beginning of the newsreel we see the Imperial Yacht Standart sailing into the harbour. It is one thing to admire the Standart in photographs, however, it is only when one views it in a moving image, that one can put into perspective the sheer size of this magnificent “floating palace” – 128 m (420 feet) in length and 5557 tons standard in weight. It was the envy of all the royal houses of Europe and Great Britain.

Nicholas II’s visited Riga with his family for three days – from 3 to 5 July 1910. The Imperial Family arrived for the celebration marking the 200th anniversary of the capture of Riga from Sweden by Russian troops, making it part of the Russian Empire.

The highlight of the visit was the grand opening and consecration of the monument to Emperor Peter I on the Alexander Boulevard in Riga, which is also featured in this video.

Alexandre Spiridovitch writes about the tsar’s 1910 visit to Riga in his memoirs Last Years of the Court at Tsarskoe Selo Volume II (1910-1914) – first English language edition published in 2017 [now out of print].

© Paul Gilbert. 8 April 2020

UPDATE: Nicholas II Equestrian Monument in Kulebaki

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Photo © Irina Makarova

On 13th December 2019, I published an article Nicholas II Equestrian Monument Planned for the Russian city of Kulebaki (with photos) of a truly splended equestrian monument of Nicholas II by the sculptor Irina Makarova, which is to be installed in the Russian city of Kulebaki in July of this year.

I am pleased to share the following three videos by Max Bataev, which depict the process of creating this impressive equestrian of Russia’s last emperor and tsar:

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Equestrian of Nicholas II dominates the Monument to the Heroes of World War One in Moscow

Note: the Russian media refer to this monument as the first equestrian monument of Nicholas II to be established in Russia. The Kulebaki monument will be the second equestrian monument to Nicholas II in Russia, the first was established in Moscow.

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Ministry of Defense on the Frunze Embankment in Moscow

On 16 December 2014, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu opened a sculptural composition dedicated to the heroes of World Wars I and II on the grounds of the Ministry of Defense on the Frunze Embankment in Moscow. The WWI monument features Nicholas II on horseback, recognizing and honouring his efforts during the Great War.

© Paul Gilbert. 4 April 2020