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Russian investigators reopen case over slaying of Czar Nicholas II’s family

Investigation was renewed then to refine the data on the circumstances, in which members of the Czar’s family were killed and buried

MOSCOW, September 23. /TASS/. Russia’s Investigations Committee has reopened a criminal case over the slaying of members of the Imperial Family of the Romanovs and members of their suite in Yekaterinburg in 1918 in order to establish identity of the remains found after 1998 when some of the slain Romanovs were buried in St Petersburg, a spokesman for the committee said on Wednesday.

Why the case is reopened

Vladimir Markin, the official spokesman for the Investigations Committee said the investigation was completed after forensic experts had established the human remains found in 2007 near Yekaterinburg belonged to Crown Prince Alexis and Grand Princess Maria.

Along with it, pursuant to a request from the Russian Orthodox Church, a special inter-departmental workgroup was set up in July 2015 to monitor the issues related to the study and burial of the remains of Crown Prince Alexis and Grand Princess Maria currently kept in the State Archive of the Russian Federation.

"The workgroup voiced proposals on supplementary identification works involving the objects previous inaccessible for investigators - the remains of Grand Duchess Yelizaveta Fyorodovna, Empress Alexandra’s sister, that are kept in Jerusalem and the samples of blood of Emperor Alexander II, Czar Nicholas II’s grandfather who died in a terrorist act in 1881 and whose blood stains are found on his full-dress uniform," Markin said.

"For this, exhumation of remains of Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra from their tombs at the St Peter and Paul’s cathedral in St Petersburg was necessary. It was effectuated in a concerted manner on Wednesday.

In addition to it, the investigators have the task of studying the archival materials discovered after 2011 and related to the investigation conducted from 1918 through 1924 by crime experts affiliated with the White Guard - the camp of anti-Bolshevist forces.

"The decision-makers at the Investigations Committee have decided to reopen a preliminary investigation so that the aforesaid tests and experiments could be held in reality," Markin said.

How the criminal case was investigated

A criminal case for investigating the circumstances of death of a number of individuals related to the Imperial House of the Romanovs was instituted in 1993 pending the discovery of a collective burial site at Ganina Yama in the vicinity of Yekaterinburg. In the course of identification of the human remains found there the investigators drew a conclusion they might belong to members of the family of Nicholas II, the last Russian Czar, who were executed by shooting on the night from July 16 to July 17, 1918, in the basement floor of the Ipatyev house in Yekaterinburg.

Apart from Emperor Nicholas, Empress Alexandra, and Grand Princesses Olga, Tatiana, and Anastasia, the burial site appeared to contain the remains of the family doctor, Yevgeny Botkin, room maid Anna Demidova, the cook Ivan Kharitonov, and the butler Alexei Trupp.

In 1998, the case was closed in view of the death of the people who had committed the crime.

The remains of the Romanovs found at Ganina Yama were placed to rest in the St Catherine’s sacrarium of the St Peter and Paul’s Cathedral in St Petersburg in the summer of 1998.

On July 29, 2007, fragments of bones and tenth of two persons - a woman and a child - with the traces of impact of high temperatures were found during the archeological excavations that aimed to tap the remains of Crown Prince Alexis and Grand Princess Maria. The find was made to the south of the site where the remains of nine members of the Romanov family and their assistants had been found earlier.

Investigation was renewed then to refine the data on the circumstances, in which members of the Czar’s family were killed and buried. Forensic studies proved the newly found remains belonged to Prince Alexis and Princess Maria.