Senior detective of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office Vladimir Solovyov has been investigating the murder of the Emperor Nicholas II family since 1993. Vladimir Solovyov talks to Interfax-Religion correspondent Arthur Priymak in the office of the Investigation Committee on the year of the 90th anniversary of the tragic event in the Ipatyev house.
- How did the investigation work and what are the final results? What unknown circumstances of that time did you manage to uncover?
- There was no investigation commission as such. Both before, from 1993 to 1998, when I leaded the criminal case, and now, the investigation commission involves only me. The remains found in 1991 and the current case makes one whole. In due course, we have reviewed different archive materials related to identification, and our current work is to confirm the ideas we had before. Soviet documents were taken as the basis, such as Yurovsky's materials, reminiscences and notes of his associates, where you can read phrases like "yes, we burnt two people then" with indications to an approximate place of execution.
We were aggressively searching for Alexy and Maria since 1991. Rather, the search was aggressive when we had money, and when the funding stopped, we had to stop the inquiry. Honestly, we started losing our hope for finding the remains by 2005. Thank God, there were people who treated our problem correctly, and we could continue our inquiry. Finally, we found the remains.
- In your work, did you come across any alternative and unconventional theories of the tsar family execution?
- Of cause, there were dozens of various theories. One theory alleges that the royal family was not murdered at all. The first inquirers had to prove that it was exactly the royal family that was murdered, rather than any other. According to other theories, only Nicolas II was murdered or only him and his servants. Ivan Sergeyev (the investigator of the Yekaterinburg district court, investigated the murder of Nicolas II family from August 1918 to January 1919, Interfax) and later Nikolay Sokolov (case investigator from 1919 to 1924, author of The Murder of the Tsar Family book - IF) were the first to prove the execution of all members of the royal family together with their servants.
Today, we have to examine every theory. I used to receive letters every day, and now over 50 people claim that they are relatives of the tsar family, who survived and know all true circumstances of the events, independently or through someone else. We have carefully examined every theory. According to one theory, the tsar's family was shot together with the family of one merchant, and their remains were buried in different places, so the investigation found the remains of this merchant, rather than the tsar's ones. The corpses were allegedly mixed, and some part was put in one place, and another part was put here, and another part there...
There were a million theories, and even more. One extraordinary theory even stated that the tsar's head was allegedly cut off and taken to Moscow to demonstrate it to Lenin. However, one of the most "fashionable" theories deals with the ritual murder of the royal family. We had to either disprove or confirm it. Investigators have pondered every circumstance, nationality and career of the killers. In fact, they have studied every possible piece of evidence. No evidence of ritual murder has been found. Even those descriptions of ritual murders provided by Dahl and other authors do not fit into this murder scheme. I personally have arrived at the professional conclusion that it was a political murder, not a human sacrifice. In my opinion, the theory of Sokolov and Diterix (General Mikhail Diterix personally supervised the investigation conducted by Nikolay Sokolov - IF), who believed that the royal family was executed, taken to Ganina Yama and burnt, is the most likely.
- In your work you inevitably had to contact Church members. What were your relations with them?
- They were different. I reviewed about 700 Internet articles related to the tsar family case, and 650 of them were written against me. All materials are politically overloaded, and three fourth of them defend the theory of "ritual murder" and claim that the investigation is aimed at "leading people astray". Of the total body of materials I select publications written by priests who I personally consider intellectually honest, and another group includes articles provided by some "Orthodox" writers who call me a "Masonic Jew" and get over 500 million dollars a month only for the information support of their activity.
Some people have doubts about our work. Until recently, His Holiness Patriarch also expressed such doubt, and in my opinion, this doubt was based on information provided by people who reported to Patriarch about our work. As far as I can judge, the latest reports to Patriarch dated late April this year were made by absolutely incompetent people. They were Doctors of Medicine who had never seen any tests, never knew our methods, and never met me or any other members of the expert group. Such "expert" visits Patriarch, glibly reports what was needed, and then shows his picture made with Patriarch. My appeals to attract Orthodox scientists to the investigation found no support. But I keep hoping. At the last press conference I called upon scientists to pay attention to this matter, and I asked those who wanted to seriously deal with this problem to maintain continuous contact with us, and work with us directly to know facts firsthand.
- What specific problems related to the tsar's remains may in your opinion surface soon?
- We have done our work. As for the problems, I think there is a good analogy with an aircraft test. It makes a test flight, it performs the loop, and then it goes into operation until something goes wrong with it. We provide our results to the most renowned world specialists, thirty independent experts who are going to closely review them. If they detect any methodical or factual errors, the results would be sent back for updating. If the results are rejected, we shall obediently put our hands up and confess that we have been misleading the world community. Hopefully, nothing of the kind happens, because our work involved serious scientists and experts who professionally dealt with this subject.
We are preparing for yet another test, as an authentic shirt of Nicolas II has been recently found. We are going to compare it to the sample which is kept in the Hermitage. It has the emperor's blood traces dated back to the time when he visited Japan as a crown prince, and a local guardian of order cut him with a saber. Our experts will try to recover his genotype and then we will literally compare "Nicolas with Nicolas". If it turns out that the shirt did not belong to Nicolas II or if we fail to recover genotype, in reviewing the completed work we may claim that we have found the true family of Nicolas II, at least, his children Maria and Alexy.
- Do you agree with the idea of political rehabilitation of the tsar's family?
- I have ruled to dismiss the criminal case as there were apparent political repressions against the last Romanovs. Lawyers make their judgment based on regulations and expert analysis. But the fact is that many important documents are still lacking. For example, there is no original decision of the Urals Soviet on the execution. It would be good if some government authorities appealed to declare the tsar family not guilty. We did not find a single act which might have been the reason even for home arrest of the tsar and his family members.
I will now talk about the facts related to the execution only. I am sure that the tsar is eligible for political rehabilitation, as there were evident political repressions against him. As for his son and daughters, what kind of rehabilitation are we talking about? No way, because they were murdered without any relevant decisions made. All of them, their cook, and lackey are victims, and their murderers knew that very well. Executors of the secret sentence against them are criminals, and there is a decision to find them guilty, whether or not there are any papers on hand. In legal environment there is often a paper race - one paper competes with another. The representative of Maria Vladimirovna German Lukyanov apparently lacks some papers. Hopefully, some decision regarding the tsar family will be finally made.