[A-List] Russia: revisionist history
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Fri Dec 20 03:13:36 MST 2002
Russia prepares to restore Romanovs
Presidential commission says it has evidence which will absolve Nicholas II
of crimes and rehabilitate the last tsarist family
Nick Paton Walsh in Moscow
Friday December 20, 2002
Russia may reclaim its tsarist history next year by declaring null and void
the crimes for which its last monarch, Tsar Nicholas II, was executed in
1917 at the height of the Bolshevik revolution.
In keeping with the Kremlin's heartfelt nostalgia for the former monarchy, a
presidential commission will in January ask Vladimir Putin to grant the
request of one of Nicholas II's last surviving relatives, to rehabilitate
Grand Duchess Leonida Romanova, wife of Grand Duke Vladimir, the son of the
last tsar's cousin, has appealed to the presidential commission on the
rehabilitation of victims of political repression to declare null and void
the "crimes" for which the tsarist monarchy was convicted and executed by a
Soviet committee 85 years ago.
The commission announced late on Wednesday that it was considering the
A source at the commission told the Guardian: "About three months ago we got
a letter from Grand Duchess Leonida. I think that the documents we got
recently from different archives - including the president's archive, that
of the Russian Federation, would permit us to prove that the tsar's family
perished as a victim of the Bolshevik leadership in Moscow and that they can
be a subject for rehabilitation."
The commission will recommend to its founder, President Putin, that the
tsar's family is rehabilitated after their investigations finish in January,
the source said.
The move will represent a significant final step in Russia's journey to
embrace its tsarist history.
President Putin models himself on Peter the Great, whose reign is
reminiscent of a Russian imperial greatness which the Kremlin is keen to
Many analysts believe that rehabilitation will sully the name, history and
electability of the present Communist party.
In 1917 Tsar Nicholas II's family was sent into exile to Yekaterinburg in
the Ural mountains. The town was under assault by the White Army, whose aim
was to restore the monarchy.
The local Bolshevik-dominated committee, the Urals Soviet, realising that it
could neither evacuate the family nor allow the White Army to free them,
held a kangaroo court at which the remnants of the monarchy were sentenced
to death for numerous "crimes".
If the family is to be rehabilitated as victims of political crimes under
Russian law, their convictions and sentences must be found to have been
ordered by Bolshevik authorities in Moscow.
A commission source said: "There is a problem here. The execution was
ordered by the Urals Soviet.
"But the logic of the events brings us to conclude that Lenin and those with
him were doing everything to annihilate the tsar's family.
"Despite publicly calling for a trial as a necessity, they were opposed to
one as this would invite foreigners and publicity."
He added that documents would back up this claim, and that the commission
would present a draft of a resolution offering rehabilitation in "two to
three weeks time".
But the Russian state archive said yesterday there was little evidence to
support this claim.
At the time of the execution, one source said, two telegrams were sent to
Moscow: one was open and declared that the tsar had been executed; the
second was in code and said that his family had met the same fate.
"It is common knowledge that the Urals Soviet was composed of very radical,
but not very bright Bolsheviks," the source said, adding that Bolshevik
witnesses said Lenin was furious when he was told of the execution.
Many analysts believe that the rehabilitation would be a gesture motivated
by populism rather than historical accuracy.
"The moral element of the rehabilitation of the tsarist family began with
the burial of their remains five years ago in the imperial mausoleum in St
Petersburg," the source at the commission said.
"The canonisation by the Russian orthodox church was another important step.
The juridical [rehabilitation] is a necessary and last step."
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