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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yekaterinburg Agrees to Release Some Royal Remains

Combined Reports

Officials in the region where Russia's last tsar was murdered have agreed, after weeks of fierce controversy, to send some of his bones to Moscow for tests on their authenticity, Interfax reported Thursday.

President Boris Yeltsin on Nov. 4 ordered the transfer of the remains of Tsar Nicholas II and his family to Moscow for final identification before a re-burial expected in 1998.

Officials in Yekaterinburg, Yeltsin's home city in the Ural Mountains where the tsar and his family were shot by Bolsheviks in 1918, protested loudly.

On Tuesday, a Sverdlovsk regional court ruled that the remains must be kept in Yekaterinburg. But First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov later insisted that Yeltsin's decree be obeyed.

Regional officials and representatives from the federal public prosecutor's office agreed to let some of the bones leave the Yekaterinburg morgue for further testing, Interfax reported.

The Moscow authorities have already sent a special train to retrieve the fragments. Regional officials have allowed bone fragments to leave the city in past years for tests.

But with Moscow, the former capital St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg all vying for the right to bury the bones, local officials in the Urals are worried Moscow may not return the bones.

Scientists both in Russia and abroad have used sophisticated DNA tests to determine that the remains belong to Nicholas II, who was killed with his wife and five children by Bolshevik revolutionaries July 17, 1918.

The Russian Orthodox Church and some other bodies have raised doubts about the authenticity of the bones.

On Thursday, Patriarch Alexei II said the church, "must be fully convinced that these are the genuine remains of the tsar and his family," Interfax reported.

"Keeping the remains in the Yekaterinburg morgue is unethical," Alexy added.

Yeltsin is to decide next year on when and where they will be formally buried.