Nicholas II portrait
Tsar Nicholas II

On July 17, 1998 over a million people attended the burial of the last Imperial monarch of Russia, Tsar Nicholas II, his beloved Tsarina Alexandra, and three of their five children, the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, and Maria. Sadly, the Russian Orthodox Church still refused to recognize the scientific facts. The burial was very controversial with many people from the political leadership not attending. First, Yeltsin was going to go, then wasn't going to go, back and forth, until finally he didn't go.

The Restless Tsar

Every Tsar since Peter the Great lies buried in the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia's former capital, except for one. Tsar Nicholas II is looking for a final resting place. Russia's last tsar, his family, and servants were brutally murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and their remains lay undiscovered until 7 year ago on the outskirts of the Ural town of Yekaterinburg.

The remains have been examined for years for identification, first by foreign scientists and now by a Russian scientific committee verifying DNA proof of their identity. The Russian Orthodox Church was not persuaded of their authenticity and demanded the Russian government's official ruling before burial. This decree came this January, when the head of Russia's Forensic Department made a statement that tests conclusievly proved the the nine skeletons exhumed from the unmarked grave were in fact Nicholas II and members of his family. The department submitted a 750-page report detailing the DNA analysis performed in Russia, the U.S., and Britain, as well as, additional material about the identification of skeletal pieces and an analysis of how they were killed. However, it has been noted that the remains of Tsarevitch Alexei and one of his sisters were not found in this grave.

As for Nicholas's burial, St. Petersburg, with its royal background, might seem the natural place and living relatives of the Tsar's family unanimously favor it. Nevertheless, Moscow is a challenger, disputing the right for the remains, as its Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin is the burial place for all Tsars before Peter the Great's time. And the Governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast, Eduard Rossel, is lobbying for a Yekaterinburg burial. President Boris Yeltsin, who has the final approval, wants the burial to take place soon, and a date of July 17 has been proposed as it is the 80th anniversary of the Tsar's murder.

The last Romanovs
The Romanov Family in 1883: Emperor Alexander III, Empress Maria Feodorovna, & their children: the heir Grand Duke Nikolay Alexandrovich, Grand Duke Georgiy, Grand Duchess Xenia, Grand Duke Mikhail, & Grand Duchess Olga

While the Tsar is searching for eternal rest, Lenin may be removed from his mausoleum on Red Square. His embalmed body is the subject of some controversy as officials debate the delicate subject of honoring the memory of a man so influential in the fallen state of communism.

The Russian government decided on February 27 that Tsar Nicholas II will be buried in the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg on July 17th 1998. This decision is at odds with the recommendation of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, which wanted the remains buried in a "symbolic" grave until all doubts as to their authenticity have been resolved.