ROMANOV FAMILY REMAINS UPDATE: EXHUMATION OF TSAR ALEXANDER III?
There is now a possibility of exhumation of the remains of Tsar Alexander III in order to have a “more accurate data” for the study of the Romanov family remains, in particular those of Tsarevich Alexei, Grand Duchess Maria, Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.
“To remove the last doubts” about the authenticity of the remains of the Romanov family, the Patriarch of Moscow and All the Russia offered to open the tomb of Alexander III, at a meeting of the Committee for the Reburial of the Romanovs. Currently this issue is being addressed by the Investigative Committee of Russia.
“His Holiness the Patriarch offered to conduct such a study”, said the senior investigator – criminalist at the main department of criminology, Vladimir Solovyov. “This issue is being discussed, and while I cannot give you a definitive answer, we are considering it with the experts, since Alexander III is still the closest person [genetically] to Nicholas II. As far as I know, his tomb has never been opened. Hence no one can claim that someone planted the remains or switched the bones.”
The initial myth that different people were buried in place of the Romanov family already surfaced in 1918. These rumors did not die down towards the end of the 20th century, when most of the members of the Romanov family were buried in St Petersburg. Many experts, among them prominent church leaders, claimed that in place of Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra and three of their daughters, other people’s remains were interred, perhaps those of their servants. Studies conducted in the late 1990’s did not give a definitive answer, Russian Orthodox Church claimed. To remove all doubts, the church now proposed to exhume the closest Romanov relative, father of Nicholas II -Alexander III.
However, many historians and scholars are strongly opposed to this measure. First, the exhumation will take a lot of time – a month for the paperwork plus the same amount of time for the actual opening of the sarcophagus. Secondly, historians argue that this procedure may destroy the historical monument.
“The Russian Orthodox Church wants to make sure that these are the remains of correct people” – explains the Chairman of the Heraldic Council Under the President of the Russian Federation, Deputy Director of the State Hermitage for Research, Georgii Vilinbakhov. “[But] you can search for this [answer] endlessly- first in the tomb of Alexander III, then Alexander II. When we are talking about is opening the tomb of an Emperor, we must understand that this is a very special thing. First of all, it is an imperial tomb, secondly St Peter and Paul Cathedral and the tomb itself are cultural monuments. The arguments that were brought up did not convince me that there is such a need.”