Russia confirms remains are those of last Tsar's children
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The scorched remains of Russian Tsar Nicholas II's two children, discovered last year, have been positively identified. The country's last king and his family were killed in 1918 amid a revolution to overthrow the monarchy.
YEKATERINBURG - Russia said on Wednesday that charred
remains found in a pit belonged to Tsar Nicholas II's only son
and his daughter, exactly 90 years after the Bolsheviks shocked
the world by murdering the last Tsar.
Moscow's confirmation that the remains included those of
Tsar Nicholas's 13-year-old heir, Prince Alexei, came as
hundreds of Russians flocked to a church built on the site where
the family was gunned down by Bolshevik executioners.
Nicholas II, lampooned by the Soviets as a failure, is
considered by many Russians today as a martyr and presented as a
symbol of the imperial glory which many now seek to recapture.
In a sign of renewed interest in the imperial past, the last
Tsar is in first place in an Internet poll to select the
greatest Russians, having overtaken Soviet dictator Josef Stalin
"He is a symbol of a great and powerful Russia who also did
great things for the country," 18-year-old Yevgeny Chindyasky
said at the Church on the Blood where Russian Orthodox believers
gathered to mark the 90th anniversary of the Tsar's execution.
The Bolsheviks shot the Tsar and his family on the night of
July 16-17, 1918 in the basement of a merchant's house in the
city of Yekaterinburg, 1,450 km (900 miles) east of Moscow.
The bodies of Russia's imperial rulers were burnt, doused in
acid to make subsequent identification difficult and dumped in
pits without a proper Orthodox burial.
Remains believed to belong to the Tsar, his wife and three
of his daughters were exhumed after the collapse of the Soviet
Union. They were reburied in 1998 in the imperial crypt of the
St Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg.
But Prince Alexei Nikolayevich and 19-year-old Grand Duchess
Maria Nikolayevna were not among those remains.
Last year bone fragments and teeth belonging to two young
people were found about 70 metres (77 yards) away from the site
where Russia's imperial rulers had been buried.
TEETH AND FILLINGS
Forensic scientists said molar teeth and amalgam fillings
found with the new remains matched those found among the remains
of the other members of the royal family.
Scull fragments showed injuries consistent with bullet
wounds. Numerous genetic tests showed the remains of both groups
belonged to one family group.
"The overall scientific results, which were based on DNA
tests using three genetic systems, agrees with the hypothesis
that in the second burial site the remains of Grand Duchess
Maria and Tsarevich Alexei have been found," the
Prosecutor-General's Office said in a statement.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Kremlin
and many Russians have sought to reconnect with their
President Dmitry Medvedev has said he admires Nicholas II,
whom many historians blame for being too weak and setting Russia
on a path to civil war and dictatorship.
"His life ended in tragedy but then it began again. That's
what we're celebrating today," Nadia Basharova, 50, said as she
listened to a priest sing.
The Russian Orthodox church has canonised the Tsar and his
family as martyrs.
By mid-morning around 300 people had gathered at the
Yekaterinburg church, which is just a 20-minute walk away from a
statue of Vladimir Lenin, the architect of the Soviet Union who
is blamed by many for the murder of the Tsar and his family.