Point in the Tsar’s business. Experts proved the authenticity of the remains of Nicholas II

On January 30, Channel One will premiere the documentary “The Romanov Case. The investigation established…» about the circumstances of the death of the family of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II and the investigation of this complicated case, which eventually dragged on for more than 100 years.

About how the investigation was conducted almost a century ago and how investigators work now, about the attempts of the “firing squad” hide the evidence and how much work it took to establish the truth, says artistic director of the television project “The Case of the Romanovs. The investigation established…», Vice-President of the Union of Criminalists and Criminologists of Russia, Deputy Director of the Institute of State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the Public Council under the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Alexander Zvyagintsev

On the approaches

Alexander Grigorievich, how did you get acquainted with this case?

– At the end of 1989, I received a call from the Chief Military Prosecutor of the USSR Alexander Katusev: “Come to me, there are unique documents. I think you, as a former investigative officer, and especially as a writer, should be interested in this. At that time, I was the head of the Public Relations Center of the USSR Prosecutor General's Office. You can imagine my feelings when I saw the covers of 4 volumes, which read: “Preliminary investigation into the murder of the Sovereign Emperor, who abdicated the Throne of the Russian State…” These were the originals of the case investigated by Nikolai Sokolovbrought after the Great Patriotic War from Berlin. I plunged into their study, in the same year I went to Sverdlovsk to understand the actions of my old colleague on the spot, who almost succeeded in discovering the remains of the royal family. But the autumn thaw brought all my plans to naught – to Ganina Yama (where, as Sokolov suggested in his book, the remains were cut into pieces and completely destroyed with the help of fire and sulfuric acid), then it did not work out. Then I went there several times. 

The Ipatiev House, where the communists shot Nicholas 2 and his family. Photo: Commons.wikimedia.org

– It turns out that you were one of the first prosecutors who got access to this case. Why did you not participate in the discussion about the origin of the remains that were discovered back in 1991?

– I'll say more – they were discovered even earlier, in 1979. Then the screenwriter and director Geliy Ryabov– by the way, also a former investigative officer of the prosecutor's office – together with local historian Alexander Avdoninat their own peril and risk, they opened a burial place on the Old Koptyakovskaya road, in the Piglet Log. They found the remains of 9 people, assumed that this was the royal family, took 3 skulls, made a handicraft plaster cast from them and returned them to their place. It is there and then that we must look for the beginning of the discussion. Ryabov and Avdonin found the remains of 9 people. But it is known for certain that on the night of July 16-17, 1918, 11 people were killed. Seven members of the imperial family – Nicholas II himself, his wife Alexandra, their four daughters – Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatyana, Mariaand Anastasiaand Tsarevich Alexey. And four of their approximate – doctor Evgeny Botkin, chef Ivan Kharitonov, footman Aloysius Truppand maid Anna Demidova. Where did the remains of the other two dead go? Why does Nikolai ­Sokolov in his book point to the destruction of bodies near Ganina Yama, and the remains were found in Porosyonkov Log, on the other side of the railway? 

Ganina Yama, where in 1918 the communists destroyed the remains of the royal family. According to investigator Sokolov, the bodies were completely destroyed. Today there is a monastery of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers. Photo: RIA Novosti/Pavel Lisitsyn.

The investigation was and is being conducted

Studying the materials of Sokolov, I was surprised how competently he conducted the case, how scrupulous the investigator was, how he recorded the interrogations of witnesses, how he worked with material evidence… But there was one moment that made one doubt his conclusions, which were voiced in the book. Sokolov was forced to leave the place of investigation without completing the work, – the Reds were advancing on Yekaterinburg. The conclusion that the remains of the royal family were destroyed in the area of ​​​​the Chetyrekhbratsky tract, that is, Ganina Yama, he made already in exile, based on circumstantial evidence.

That is why I have not yet entered into discussions. I lacked a complete investigation that would restore the full picture of the crime committed, the concealment by the criminals of the traces of the crime… After all, this includes not only the memories of the direct participants in the events, members of the firing squad and the funeral team, – I had the opportunity to get acquainted with these data. But, say, archaeological research required time and the participation of specialists. There was a lack of expert data that would absolutely accurately identify the discovered remains, and many other studies. In a word, there was not enough evidence. 

Moscow Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination. Russian forensic expert, specialist in forensic medicine and anthropological reconstruction Sergei Nikitin and sculptural portraits of members of the Romanov family, reconstructed from skulls from a secret burial near Yekaterinburg. 1995 Photo: RIA Novosti/Sergey Subbotin.

– Are they here now?

– Yes. Research has been conducted since 1993, as soon as a criminal case was initiated on the murder of Nicholas II, members of his family and close associates. Little by little, the material accumulated. But the real breakthrough came on September 22, 2015, when the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation resumed the investigation into this criminal case. 40 forensic examinations were appointed and conducted, including anthropological, molecular genetic, traceological, handwriting… To resolve the issues raised in the framework of the historical and archival expertise, we systematized 2 thousand historical sources (including multi-volume ones) both in Russia and abroad. Honored scientists, academicians of the Russian Academy of Sciences, doctors, prominent historians and archivists, world-famous scientists collaborated with the investigation. Thanks to their work, we are now able to restore the true picture of what happened in those July days.

“As if alive, red-cheeked”

Is it very different from Nikolai Sokolov's version?

– I would say that the present investigation continued the work begun by Sokolov. After all, then he did everything he could. Unfortunately, he did not have at his disposal modern scientific potential and documents that became available to our investigators. And most importantly, there was no time. I am sure that if he had at least a month left, he would definitely find out that the notorious Ganina Yama – just a “dummy” left by the head of the firing squad Yakov Yurovsky. And the «dummy» unintentional – Yurovsky had to improvise on the go.   

Initially, it was assumed that there would be two teams. One – firing squad led by Yurovsky. Other – funeral service headed by Pyotr Ermakov. But Ermakov got drunk drunk and was unsuitable for conscious actions. Yurovsky got down to business. Under his command, the bodies were taken to Ganina Pit, stripped to exclude identification by things, and thrown into the mine, which was considered deep. However, here they were let down by ignorance of the materiel – in such mines, even in summer, an ice lens can be hidden under a layer of water. She did not let the bodies go deep. Yurovsky, faced with this fact, began frantically looking for other options. At first it seemed that bodies could be dissolved in acid or cremated. Japanese sulfuric acid and kerosene were urgently brought from the city. According to the memoirs of a member of the funeral team Isai Radzinsky, the bodies thrown into the mine with water could indeed be identified by anyone who has ever seen the image of Nicholas II: “There is such cold, icy water. We pulled out like living people – red-cheeked…» However, the attempt to combine acid and fire was unsuccessful – in the course of an investigative experiment conducted today, it turned out that acid interferes with the combustion process. & nbsp;

Sweeping tracks

All that remains near Ganina Yama, – this is a fire pit in which fragments of burnt clothes, jewelry, precious stones and other small items were found. Pieces of greasy masses mixed with earth were found in a small well of the mine, where the equipment for lifting ore from a large well had previously stood. Fat, apparently, was used to lubricate the mechanisms – this is what Sokolov discovered here. And, not being able to return to Yekaterinburg to complete the search, he made his preliminary conclusion, which turned out to be erroneous.

Because Yurovsky then continued to cover his tracks. Having collected partially charred bodies, the funeral team set off towards the Moscow tract – there seemed to be some really deep mines. But they didn't. The driver of the House of Special Purpose Lyukhanovbefore, apparently, he drove only cars. He was unable to handle the truck – on the night of July 18-19, 1918, the car got stuck in the lowland of the Koptyakovskaya road in Porosyonkov Log. & nbsp;

They came up with the idea to hide the corpses right in this quagmire. The idea is not new – so did many before and after. The pit was deepened after a truck was pushed out of it. From the old sleepers taken from the gatehouse near the railway crossing, a pavement was built over the burial ground. Perhaps then some of the passersby even thanked those who laid the hollow. Here Radzinsky proposed to additionally confuse the traces: “They laid out some of these very duckies and began to pour sulfuric acid, disfigured everyone” And the rest at some distance began to burn. It is important for us that the number 11 does not remain, because by this sign it was possible to recognize the burial.

That's why in 1979 and 1991. here, under the bridge of sleepers, only 9 people were found. The bodies of the other two still managed to be cremated nearby – their remains were discovered only in 2007. But, what is important, during the excavations, bullets of that time and fragments of vessels from acid, similar to those found in the burial of 9 people, were found next to them. 

Proved a century later

– How did you manage to figure out who is who?

– The experts have their say here. Anthropologists have confirmed that the cremated remains belonged to a very young girl and a teenage boy. Apparently, these were Grand Duchess Maria and Tsarevich Alexei – there was no complete combustion. Sufficient areas of bone fragments have been preserved that did not have time to be damaged by fire. So, an abnormal structure of the vascular tissue of the femur of a boy was discovered – such deformities are most likely associated with hemophilia, and it is known that the Tsarevich suffered from this disease.

Geneticists examined the entire male DNA line, obtaining samples directly from its carriers – from the hood of Emperor Alexander II, which was on it at the time of the assassination attempt in 1881, and from the remains of Alexander III. The results obtained were compared with the remains found in the Piglet Log, – skeleton No. 4, which allegedly belonged to Nicholas II, and parts of the skeleton of a teenage boy discovered in 2007. It turned out that both Alexander II and Alexander III are close biological relatives. & nbsp;

The skull of skeleton No. 4 was examined especially carefully. In the process of a new investigation, traces of a traumatic effect were found on him. Experts in forensic medicine studied the “Conclusion of the Three Doctors”, drawn up by physicians immediately after the assassination attempt on Nikolai in Japan in 1891. And the information about the place of the wound coincided with the results of the research… 

To date, all studies aimed at identifying the people whose remains were found in the Piglet Log have been completed. The results of complex multi-stage examinations, many of which were carried out for the first time during the criminal case, allow us to draw a final and unambiguous conclusion that the remains of Nicholas II, his family and relatives were in the burials.

Источник aif.ru

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