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MOSCOW, September 28 /TASS/. The Russian Orthodox Church has asked for additional forensic study of the bone fragments believed to belong to Tsarevich (crown prince) Alexey and his sister Princess Maria because it has no right to make mistakes in its bid to canonize them, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the Synodic department for Church and Society Relations, told TASS on Monday.
Vladimir Markin, a spokesperson for the Russian Investigations Committee, said earlier the Committee had reopened a criminal case over the slaying of Czar Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, their five children and members of their suite by Bolshevik revolutionaries in Yekaterinburg in 1918.
He also added that the investigators would scrutinize the archival materials found after 2011 and linked to the investigation conducted by the anti-Bolshevik experts in the period of 1918 through to 1924, as well as the material evidence the investigators had operated with at that time.
Forensic experts are examining new pieces of material evidence, which were previously unavailable to investigators. The remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra have been exhumed from their graves at the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, and samples have been taken from the blood stains on the clothes of Emperor Alexander II, the grandfather of Nicholas II.
"This is a matter of special importance for the Church because the members of the Czarist family can be canonized, and their remains can be revered as holy relics. In this case, the Church has no room for mistake," Archpriest Chaplin said.
"This is exactly why an inter-departmental working group, which is in charge of the matter, has been offered to carry out an additional investigation," the archpriest added. He said it was important to make the investigation maximum open and transparent and stressed the need to record everything in black and white.
"These principles have so far been observed," Chaplin noted adding the samples of the bone fragments had been taken in the presence of Metropolitan Varsonofy of St. Petersburg and Ladoga.
"Such a scrutinizing approach to the case guarantees that the most skeptical people will be able to get answers to their questions," the archpriest said adding that the presence of the Church delegation at the burial of the bone fragments of Tsarevich Alexey and Princess Maria at the Peter and Paul Fortress on October 18 will depend on the results of this additional forensic examination.
Criminal proceedings on the death of the Czarist family were initiated as early as in 1993 when a common grave was found at Ganina Yama in the outskirts of Yekaterinburg, the administrative center of Russia’s Urals region. Numerous studies confirmed that the remains belonged to the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II, the members of his family and members of their suite. The bone fragments, believed to be those of Tsarevich Alexey and Princess Maria, were found later close to that burial site.
Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna Romanova has hailed the decision of Russia's Investigations Committee to reopen a case over the slaying of the Russian czarist family.
"Grand Duchess Maria supports the decision by the Investigations Committee to resume investigation procedures pertaining to the deaths of the Imperial Family members and believes the step to be rational and fair," German Lukyanov, a lawyer representing the House of the Romanovs, told TASS last week.
The Grand Duchess believes the reopening of the case testifies to the fact that "some circumstances of the death of the Czar's family were not established previously and clear and exhaustive answers were not given to all the questions raised by the Russian Orthodox Church."
"Grand Duchess Maria hopes the forensic study of the remains found in Yekaterinburg will be scientifically grounded and the preliminary investigation of the reopened case will be all-round and unbiased," Lukyanov said. "The truth should be established and we must get an answer to the main question, namely, who these remains belong to.
Maria Vladimirovna is a claimant to the headship of the Russian Imperial Family of the Romanovs.