Skulls of the members of the Romanov family and their retinue, including that of Nicholas II
Skulls of the members of the Romanov family and their retinue, including that of Nicholas II

October 2015.  Additional tests on the remains of the Romanov family are being conducted with the blessing of the Russian Orthodox Church. The process was put in motion after it was decided that it was now time to finally bury the remains of Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria, and the date for the burial was chosen: 18 October, 2015 – Tsarevich Alexei’s Namesday. It is unclear whether the burial will take place on this date, but the hope it that it will take place sooner rather than later. Which new scientific tests are scheduled to be performed on the Romanov remains? Let’s take a look.  

Ekaterinburg. Cathedral on the Blood, built on the site of the Engineer Ipatiev’s house where the Russian imperial family was shot. Father Maxim leads the film crew of “Saturday News” deep underground. Lower. Even lower, down the steep stairs, and if one walks through the underground corridors, one encounters the water well – preserved after the demolition of the Ipatiev House. If you count steps from this well, then, according to the priests, you can pinpoint where the murder room was located, the spot where the executioners lined up the Romanov family, almost to form a living iconostasis.

Romanov family: Tsar Nicholas II, Grand Duchess Olga, Grand Duchess Tatiana, Grand Duchess Maria, Grand Duchess Anastasia and Tsarevich Alexei.
Romanov family: Tsar Nicholas II, Grand Duchess Olga, Grand Duchess Tatiana, Grand Duchess Maria, Grand Duchess Anastasia and Tsarevich Alexei.

The chapel in Ekaterinburg has a church museum. This summer, a copy of the “terrible order of execution” signed by Voikov was brought here from Harvard University:  its purpose was to give the bearer a large amount of acid to disfigure the faces of the victims.

Until this point, this part of history is agreed upon by both ecclesiastical and secular authorities. The disagreements begin when trying to figure out exactly what happened with the bodies of the Romanov family and their loyal servants – after the shooting.

The main question is whether they were dismembered and burned outside of Ekaterinburg, where the monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church now stands – that is at Ganina Yama – where the bodies were taken the first night. Or did it all happen at the Piglet Meadow, where in 1991 they unveiled the sadly infamous tracks? It was precisely this spot that the old Bolsheviks indicated from their memory.

Moscow. Bolshaya Dmitrovka. Former party archives. There – are now ample reports of the old Bolsheviks which are consistent with one other. Here also is the investigator who handled the case during the last 24 years, who is now sharing perhaps his most cherished information.

Vladimir Soloviov, the Senior Investigator for the Investigative Committee of the Romanov remains:

Nicholas II was wounded in Japan in 1891. To me this may be the most complicated evidence in the entire investigation. Why? Because the imperial physician Dr Derevenko, who took care of Tsarevich Alexei,  once said: ‘If you find the Tsar’s remains, you will be able to identify them by the wound on his head. His wound went through the head on the left. side’  But when the remains were examined, nothing was found on the putative Tsar’s skull. Perhaps the heads were switched – the head is all wrong”.

Evgeni Rogaev, the Department Head of the Vavilov Human Genomics Institute:

In our conclusions I made some notes stating that it would be useful to do some additional tests. In particular, of the mitochondrial DNA which is passed through the female line, and it would also be helpful to do the male line.” Now these tests were performed and all results were consistent.

Michael Coble, former Head of the US Armed Forces DNA research laboratory:

To the skeptics, we can present the latest results of the Y-chromosome analysis of  the male line and of the mitochondrial studies, which 20 years later showed the same results. Therefore, all attempts to question the results of these numerous studies are now simply insulting“.

Nevertheless, there are factions, among them the Russian Orthdox Church, who insist on continuing to question these results. The idea currently is that they need to isolate DNA from the blood on the uniform of Tsar Alexander II, the grandfather of Nicholas II, – the uniform he wore when he was assassinated by terrorists.

It is also worth noting that contrary to the Dr. Derevenko’s statement, the head wound of young Nicholas II was not on the left but on the right side of his head – this according to contemporary documents written by the physicians who examined the Tsarevich immediately after the attack.

Grand Duchess Maria Romanov and Tsarevich Alexei Romanov
Grand Duchess Maria Romanov and Tsarevich Alexei Romanov

Vladimir Soloviov:

His wound was serious, because two arteries were severed, and there was failure to provide timely assistance. But if we consider the marks on the skull, there is a four centimeter scar , one to two millimeters wide, while a small bony skull plate “of paper thickness” was chipped. This was not be preserved for the simple reason that the skull is made up of three parts. The first two parts had dissolved due to massive impact of sulfuric acid, hence they simply did not survive. But this area does show some thinning of the bone. And it was where the sulfuric acid affected it most strongly. This is what the forensic experts tell us. That is, we can tell that there was no wound going through the skull, and there is no data that it is the wrong skull.

Soloviov continues:

The genetic studies have not been carried out on the skulls previously. The fact is that the scientific technique has improved and there is no longer a need to use the entire skull of Tsar Nicholas II for testing. Thank God that now such examination can be done relatively painlessly. Our science has progressed.  When I met with His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II in 1998, he said: ‘The Church is still in doubt. Before you bury them, take some fragments of the remains.  And when in 2007 they discovered the remains of Alexei and Maria, the fragments taken in 1998 with the blessing of the Patriarch were used. He was very concerned about all this. And gave us proper advice. It was of great help to us. I must say that Patriarch Kyrill is very closely monitoring all that we are doing. We have the goodwill of the Church. We are trying to inform the Church of all that we are doing today”.

Dr Evgeni Rogaev was once again appointed to conduct the genetic studies – and he has been able to perform the unthinkable –  to isolate the hemophilia gene from the remains of Tsarevich Alexei and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna – and something no one even expected – from the remains of Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Rogaev proposes this for future consideration:

In a footnote I indicated that it was necessary to conduct genetic identification of the people who accompanied the Romanov family [into exile] and perished with them. Their relatives were all found. They all went willingly, knowing what awaits them. At least Dr. Botkin was aware exactly of what was in store, but these people are now all but forgotten“.

Dr Evgeni Botkin, Footman Trupp, kitchen head Kharitonov. The last two photos are of the Romanov family maid Anna Demidova.
Dr Evgeni Botkin, Footman Trupp, kitchen head Kharitonov. The last two photos are of the Romanov family maid Anna Demidova.


Russian source  for this article

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  1. One read in many press sources in 2007 that the female fragments were thought to be those of Anastasia as the other female remains had the clear signs of end of bone growth, whereas Anastasia would still have been growing at the time of the putative death.

    There is the odd case of a woman living under the name of “Evgenia Smetisko” (aka Eugenia Smith) who was recently reported on in NEW YORK TIMES about a Romanov Exhibition:

    She is depicted as an important benefactress of the Museum of Russian History and Culture at Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Monastery in Jordanville, NY and is buried there with Anastasia’s birth date on her cross: June 18, 1901.

    She has left them funds in perpetuity for the maintenance of that lovely and edifying museum in Upstate New York,

    A recent biometric analysis by R. Schmitt (known for analyzing similar cases reported on The History Channel) of a photo of Anastasia as a girl and “Evgenia” from a 1963 LIFE MAGAZINE article about her claim to be Anastasia, reveals a 99+% match as being the same person.

    Might Maria already be buried under Anastasia’s name and might Anastasia be “Evgenia” in the Orthodox cemetery?

    One might suggest a DNA analysis be done on “Evgenia’s” remains also before the definitive answer is reached.


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