Russia’s last Tsar exhumed, case reopened into murder of Romanov family

Russian Emperor Nicholas II (second from left) and his family. © Wikipedia
The remains of the last Russian emperor and his wife have been exhumed, while the Interior Ministry's Investigative Committee has reopened an investigation into the early 20th century murder of the Romanov family.

Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin announced the renewal of the case due to new evidence in an official statement online.

The investigators will have to study archival materials related to the enquiry conducted between 1918 and 1924 by former Russian Imperial officers. These documents were found sometime after 2011 along with some new material evidence.

Additionally, at request of the Russian Orthodox Church, a special working group on studying and burying the remains of the last Russian emperor’s son Aleksey and daughter Maria was formed in July 2015 with the burial plans announced this month.

The working group has exhumed the remains of Nicolas II and his wife and took DNA samples to verify the identity of remains supposedly belonging to Aleksey and Maria that were unearthed in 2007.

The group aims to verify Aleksey and Maria’s identity by comparing them to the remains of their aunt, the empress’s sister Elizaveta Feodorovna, and to the emperor’s grandfather, Alexander II.

Russian Emperor Nicholas II (left, sitting in the coach) and Empress with son moving along a Moscow street on the day of celebrating the Romanov House 300th anniversary. © RIA Novosti

The investigation into the murder of the Romanov family was initially launched in 1993 to identify the suspected remains of Tsar Nicolas II, his wife, and three daughters, as well as their retinue, which were found near the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in the Ural region. The case was closed in 1998 “owing to the deaths of the perpetrators of the crime.”

It was later reopened in 2007, when the remains of Aleksey and Maria were found, and then closed again after their identities had been confirmed.

In June, regional lawmakers in the Leningrad (St. Petersburg) region proposed a law giving the surviving Romanov heirs special status and one of the family’s historic palaces in St. Petersburg or the Crimea.

“For the whole length of its reign, the Romanov imperial dynasty remained a foundation of the Russian statehood,” local MP Vladimir Petrov said in a letter urging the heirs to return to Russia.

“At present Russia is undergoing a complicated process of regaining its glory and worldwide influence. I am sure that in this historical moment the Romanovs would not stay away from all the processes that are taking place in Russia,” he added.

At the same time, the members of the Romanov dynasty addressed Moscow City Hall in June, demanding that the Voikovskaya metro station, which bears the name of a Bolshevik who played a key role in the 1918 execution of Tsar Nicolas II and his family, be renamed.

“It is simply necessary to clear the Moscow city map of the name of someone who took part in repression and who organized the Tsar’s family killing,” the royal family’s lawyer, German Lukyanov, told the Interfax news agency at that time.

READ MORE: Local MPs want Tsar’s family back in Russia, suggest Crimean palace as residence

The question of renaming this station has been repeatedly raised in recent decades. In July, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin showed readiness to rename the station, and public discussion of the matter has been ongoing ever since.