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No proof Lenin ordered last tsar’s murder: probe

A long-running probe into the murders of the last Russian tsar Nicholas II and his family has closed after failing to find evidence that Lenin ordered the killings, investigators said Monday.

Historians and archivists have found no evidence that the Bolshevik leader or regional chief Yakov Sverdlov gave permission for the imperial family to be shot in 1918, Vladimir Solovyov, Russia’s chief investigator, told the Izvestia daily.

The investigative committee of the state prosecutor’s office said Monday that it had completed its investigation of the deaths of the tsar’s family and their servants and closed the case on January 14.

“The top experts in this subject took part in the investigation, historians and archivists. And I can say with full confidence that today there is no reliable document proving the instigation of Lenin or Sverdlov” in carrying out the killings, Solovyov said.

Nevertheless, he said that he believed Lenin and Sverdlov were to blame, since they later endorsed the shooting and did not punish the killers.

“When they heard that the whole family had been shot, they officially approved the shooting. None of the organisers nor the participants suffered any punishment,” he said.

In a complex case, the tsar’s descendants want Russia to acknowledge that the family were victims of political repression and for a criminal investigation to prove that killings were carried out on state orders, not extrajudicially.

Russia’s Supreme Court in October 2008 recognised Nicholas II and his family as victims of political repression.

But investigators from the state prosecutor’s office in 2009 closed a criminal probe into the killings, saying too much time had passed and all the suspects were dead.

Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, the disputed claimant to head the imperial dynasty, then appealed to a Moscow court to reopen the case and the court last year upheld her complaint.

The investigative committee said in its statement on Monday that its decree “had been brought into line with the court decision”, without elaborating.

A lawyer for the grand duchess said Monday that investigator Solovyov had phoned him to tell him of the case’s closure.

“We want as soon as possible to read the decision .. so as to check the legality and the objectivity of the investigation,” German Lukyanov told AFP.

“It’s a question of national importance and historical importance for the whole world.”

In a separate controversy, Solovyov called for the burial of the tsar’s two children, Grand Duchess Maria and Tsarevich Alexei, whose bodies are unburied as the Russian Orthodox Church disputes their identification.

Solovyov accused the Church and government of neglecting the remains, and warned they might have to be destroyed.

“Neither the Church nor the state are looking after the remains. I keep the remains of the heir of the great empire and the grand duchess as material evidence,” Solovyov said.

“I am afraid that sooner or later they will have to be buried according to the general rules, among the unclaimed remains.”

The Church has canonized all the members of the last tsar’s family, but refuses to recognize the remains of Alexei and Maria, whose bodies were separated from the others and identified by DNA testing in 2008.

Tsar Nicholas II, his German-born wife Alexandra and their five children were shot dead in the cellar of a house in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on July 17, 1918, after the Bolshevik revolution.