26 July 2012, 16:54
New proof will hopefully end dispute over royal remains authenticity - House of Romanov (updated)
Moscow, July 26, Interfax - The House of Romanov will be guided by the Russian Orthodox Church's position on the authenticity of the remains of the family of the last Russian tsar Nicholas II.
The House of Romanov head, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, will recognize the remains buried at the Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg as those of the royal family, if the Russian Orthodox Church says they are authentic, the House of Romanov spokesman Alexander Zakatov told Interfax on Thursday.
The Russian Orthodox Church and the House of Romanov have not recognized yet that the remains are authentic, citing the absence of sufficient evidence.
It emerged on Thursday that the Moscow Patriarchate may change its position on the "Yekaterinburg remains."
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia told the Holy Synod in Kiev on Thursday that important information has arrived from New York, where the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is headquartered, connected with circumstances of the death of the imperial family. "I hope these circumstances will help shape our position, including on the so-called 'Yekaterinburg remains,'" the Russian Patriarch said.
"We have learnt that material evidence - a report by investigator Nikolay Sokolov, [who probed the execution of the royal family in 1919 on commission from Admiral Alexander Kolchak] - was discovered in Brussels some time ago, when the church built in commemoration of the martyr-tsar was being restored," Zakatov said.
"Perhaps these materials and additional tests will throw light on some aspects of the situation. It would be premature to speculate on radical change, but Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna has been informed of the latest developments by Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia," he said.
"We hope a new investigation will lead us to more objective results than those obtained by a commission in 1998," he added.
"The Russian Orthodox Church's refusal to recognize the Yekaterinburg remains as authentic were due to serious doubts. If these doubts are dispelled, the church will probably change its position. And in this case the head of the House of Romanov will join the church in recognizing the remains as authentic," Zakatov said.
He said that lead containers were found when a wall of the church was being restored in Brussels, and one carried a letter about the history of this material evidence, he said.
"Investigator Sokolov handed the material evidence to Prince Shirinsky-Shikhmatov at one time. Then the prince's son handed it over to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. It was initially kept at an Orthodox church in Paris and was then passed to the church under construction in Brussels," Zakatov said.
"The lead containers carried glass jars filled with soil from the Ganina Yama site where the bodies of the royal family and their domestic servants were burned," he said.
"The glass jars are filled with soil and clay mixed with tissues that remained after the bodies were burned. This provides certain genetic matter for further tests," he said.
Eleven people, including members of the Russian Imperial Family and people from their entourage, were shot at the Urals regional council presidium's order in the early hours of July 17, 1918.
A grave with nine bodies was found on Staraya Koptyakovskaya Road near Yekaterinburg in July 1991. The remains were identified as those of Emperor Nicholas II, his 46-year-old wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, their daughters Olga, 22, Tatyana, 21, and Anastasia, 17, and their servants Yevgeny Botkin, 53, Anna Demidova, 40, Aloizy Trupp, 62, and Ivan Kharitonov, 48.
The remains of two more people were discovered during archaeological excavation works 70 kilometers south of the first grave on July 26, 2007. The remains have still not been buried, but numerous expert analyses indicate that the remains were most likely those of Crown Prince Alexei and his sister Maria.
The Presidium of the Russian Supreme Court ruled to rehabilitate Nicholas II and his family members on October 1, 2008.
The Investigative Committee said in January 2011 that it had completed an investigation into the death of Nicholas II, his family members and entourage and closed the criminal case.