No proof Lenin ordered last tsar's murder: probe

17th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

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, the chief investigator said Monday.

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

"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, he said.

Russia on January 14 closed a criminal probe aimed at naming those guilty for the murders, 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 to prove that the family were victims of political repression, for which investigators have to find evidence that the killings were carried out on state orders, not extrajudicially.

A lawyer for Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, the disputed claimant to head the imperial dynasty, said Monday that he had not been informed of the closure of the criminal probe.

"I haven't received from the investigative committee any documents about the official closure of the case," her lawyer German Lukyanov told AFP.

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 the probe into the killings, saying too much time had passed and all the suspects were dead.

"The decision to close the case was illegal and baseless," Lukyanov said.

The grand duchess then appealed to a Moscow court to reopen the case in a bid to "protect the good name of her relatives," Lukyanov said, and the court last year upheld her complaint.

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 Russian revolution.

© 2011 AFP

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