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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Top Court Refuses to Rehabilitate Last Tsar

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to recognize Tsar Nicholas II and his family, executed by the Bolsheviks, as victims of political repression, a lawyer for the royal family's descendants said.

The court upheld repeated rulings by lower courts and prosecutors that the 1918 slaying of the tsar, his wife and their five children was premeditated murder, not a political reprisal, lawyer German Lukyanov said.

"This is an illegal decision," Lukyanov said. "It states that the Bolsheviks did not violate the rights and freedoms of the tsar and his family by locking them up and then executing them."

Nicholas II abdicated in 1917 as revolutionary fervor swept Russia, and he and his family were detained. The next year, the tsar, his wife, Alexandra, and their four daughters and one son were sent to Yekaterinburg, where a firing squad executed them on July 17, 1918, in a basement room of a nobleman's house where they were held.

Prosecutors have consistently refused a petition by descendants of the royal family to recognize the killings as political, and a Moscow court earlier this year declined to order them to do so. After its latest decision in September, the Prosecutor General's Office said an investigation found that no court or "extrajudicial body" had issued any sort of execution or repression order ahead of the killings.

The royal family's remains were unearthed in 1991. After genetic tests convinced forensics experts of their authenticity, they were buried in 1998 in a cathedral in St. Petersburg.

The Russian Orthodox Church canonized Nicholas and his family in 2000.

But Lukyanov said the Supreme Court's ruling meant that the authorities "do not want to condemn Bolshevism."

Classifying Nicholas and his family as victims of Bolshevik political repression would mean they would likely be officially "rehabilitated," as have many victims of Soviet-era political reprisals.