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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Troubled Sleep: Ceremony Marks Romanov Murders

A smattering of monarchists, Cossacks, white guards and Orthodox believers gathered throughout the city Wednesday to mark the 78th anniversary of the execution of the Romanov family.


"This is in memory of all of those killed at the hands of the godless communists during the Red terror," said Yanus Bremzis, a representative of the Volunteer Corps, the self-proclaimed continuation of the tsarist White Army, at a memorial service at Vagankovskoye cemetery.


Bremzis, whose great-grandfather fought against the Bolsheviks and was executed in 1919, supports a return to the monarchy. While many of his colleagues also have claims to regal ancestry, some, like Igor Sukhov, "are simple people, united by our conviction to return to national imperial traditions."


The ceremony at Vagankovskoye cemetery was followed by another religious service on Moscow's Staraya Ploshchad, which was organized by the Union of Christian Revival. The message at this second service was muddled, however, with loyalty to the tsar competing with support for Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic.


"The royal family was always on the side of the Serbs," said Anatoly Korneyev, in attempt to tie the two themes together. A member of the Russian-Serbian Brotherhood, Korneyev said the Serbs are the victims, not the perpetrators, of war crimes in Bosnia.


Not everyone who attended the commemorative events -- which attracted only a few hundred people -- were monarchists or supporters of the Serbian brotherhood. Some, like Galina Fedotina, happened upon the Vagankovskoye service while she was on her way to visit her daughter's grave.


"God forbid we should have the monarchy back. We need democracy now," said Fedotina.


"Don't get me wrong -- I have nothing against the tsar. It was horrible what they did to him, and he and his family should be buried properly," said Fedotina, placing a candle at the cross commemorating the death of Tsar Alexander III.


The marble pedestal of the monument, which now honors not only Alexander III but all the Romanovs, officers and servants who were murdered by the Bolsheviks, was originally placed in the Kremlin's Uspensky Cathedral in 1894. The monument was removed during a communist subbotnik in 1918, and, according to Bremzis, its pedestal was found in a Moscow dump nearly 60 years later and secretly hidden at the Vagankovskoye cemetery by Father Valentin Paramonov.


The charred bones believed to be the remains of Tsar Nicholas II and his family were discovered in 1991 in Yekaterinburg, where they were murdered July 17, 1918.


Since the 1991 discovery, there have been at least two attempts to bury the remains in St. Petersburg's Peter and Paul Fortress, alongside the rest of the Romanov dynasty. The first burial plan, following a statement by President Boris Yeltsin in February 1995 that the Romanovs should be buried in St. Petersburg, was delayed pending final DNA test results on the remains.


After Russian and international scientists concluded in September 1995 that the bones were indeed the remains of Nicholas II, his wife, three of their five children and three servants, the burial was rescheduled for last February. Once again, doubts concerning the authenticity of the remains put off the burial indefinitely.


According to the Volunteer Corps, the burial should take place, regardless of whether or not the evidence is conclusive. "These remains are more important to us as a symbol of the royal family," said Sukhov. "We should bury them and put an end to this tragic history."