New genetic tests on the remains appear to put an end to a long-running debate. Clerics had refused to recognize them as having belonged to Russia’s last czar and his family, who were all murdered exactly 100 years ago.
New DNA tests on bones of Russia’s last czar, Nicholas II, and his family confirm they are authentic. Researchers exhumed Nicholas’s father Alexander III — himself assassinated in 1881 — to prove “they are father and son.”
The test results could lead to the Russian Orthodox Church recognizing the remains for a full burial. It said it would consider the findings and commended the progress of the investigation.
Nicholas II, his German-born wife and their five children were shot by Bolsheviks as a consequence of the October Revolution of 1917. The bodies of the last members of the Romanov dynasty were thrown into a mineshaft, before being burned and hurriedly buried by the killers. They were first tracked down by amateur historians in 1979, although the discovery was only revealed in 1991. The Russian Orthodox Church had recognized the ex-tsar as a martyred saint in 1981.
The Church had disputed the authenticity of the bones following a probe under former Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, in which the Church said it felt sidelined. The bones of the Nicholas II, his wife and three of their children — Anastasia, Olga and Tatiana — were interred in Saint Petersburg in 1998 under Yeltsin’s rule.
The remains of the Nicholas’s only son Alexei and his daughter Maria were found separately in 2007 and have never been buried. The Russian Church in 2000 accorded the entire family martyr status because of their faith.
Some had hoped the Church would recognize the remains in time for a full burial ahead of the centenary of the murders which took place on the night of July 16, 1918. The ongoing probe is examining historic documents.
According to a survey published by Russia’s VTsIOM research center, a majority of those asked said they considered the shooting death of the czar’s family a “monstrous and unjustified crime,” reported The Moscow Times.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, planned to lead a commemorative procession on Monday night from the murder site to a monastery.