Russia’s Investigative Committee, an equivalent of America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation, says that the mortal remains of Czar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra were exhumed in order to determine the identity of certain bone fragments that may belong to two of their children. The imperial family – the czar, czarina, and five children and a companion – were murdered by the Communists in 1918 near Yetakerinburg in Russia in order to prevent their rescue by forces loyal to the Czar.
Following the fall of the Soviet Union, human remains were found there that were identified with the imperial couple and three children. They were interred in 1998. Bones belonging to the son of the Czar, Alexei, and a daughter were discovered in 2007. While burial plans were announced this month, the Russian Orthodox Church has called for another look. Since the church has canonized the imperial family as martyrs of the Christian faith, it considers the veneration of false relics a sacrilege. So far, the church does not consider the other remains as authentic.
The bones of the imperial couple and three of their five children were found in 1991 in a mass grave were they had been hidden by the communists. Following DNA analysis and identification, they were reinterred in St. Petersburg on July 17, 1998: the 80th anniversary of their martyrdom. They were raised to sainthood in 2000.
Until 2007, the disposition of the remains of two other children — Crown Prince Alexei, 13, and Grand Duchess Maria, 19, was a mystery. Remains believed to belong to them, which amount to just a few fragments, were found at a separate grave site in the Urals Mountains.
Russian authorities say that expert studies and other materials of the criminal case have established that the remains were indeed those of Alexei and Maria. Nonetheless, the Russian Orthodox Church called for further identification tests.
To aid in the identification of the suspected remains of Alexei and Maria, the bodies of Nicholas and Alexandra were exhumed in St. Petersburg, while tissue samples from members of the ruling Romanov family now buried in Jerusalem have also been obtained. A blood sample from the czar’s grandfather, Alexander II, who was assassinated in an 1881 bomb attack, will also be examined.
According to the Tass news agency, attorney German Lukyanov – who represents a surviving Romanov relative, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, “The Grand Duchess hopes that the examination of the Yekaterinburg remains will be scientific. The truth must be established in this case, with an answer to the main question: whose are these remains?”
In an interview with Moscow’s Echo radio station, Vladimir Solovyov, a leading investigator in the probe, affirmed that researchers had taken “samples from Nicholas II, from the empress, and from the uniform of emperor Alexander II,” the last czar’s grandfather. “They have decided to start again from the very beginning,” said Solovyov, “and carry out renewed examinations,” said Solovyov. The remains will be subject to genetic testing, he added.
Russia is hoping to bury all of the members of the imperial family together.