CHURCH PREVENTS TSAR'S REBURIAL
Electronic Telegraph Friday 9 February 1996
Church prevents Tsar's reburial
BY ALAN PHILPS IN MOSCOW
THE reburial of the remains of Tsar Nicholas II has been
postponed because the Russian Orthodox Church does not accept
scientific findings that the bones are genuine.
DNA tests on the remains found in a mass grave outside the Urals
city of Yekaterinburg in 1991 convinced scientists last year that
the bodies were those of the last Tsar and his family, shot by
the Bolsheviks in 1918.
Russian judicial authorities closed the case and a provisional
burial date of Absolution Sunday, which this year falls on Feb
25, was chosen by the mayor of St Petersburg. But the Russian
Orthodox Church opposes the reburial, saying that it is not
convinced the remains are genuine.
This has forced the Russian government, which had endorsed the
identification, to continue its investigations, although it is
hard to imagine what firmer scientific proof could be found.
"This year is clearly not possible for the reburial. Next year on
Absolution Sunday perhaps, but it depends on the Church," said
Andrei Sebentsov, of the government commission on identification
of the remains of the imperial family.
Mr Sebentsov said he was convinced by the DNA tests, made at the
Home Office Forensic Science Service, in Aldermaston with blood
donated by Prince Philip, a kinsman of the Tsar, and separately
in Washington. "But the whole world has to be convinced, too."
The Russian government believes the church is stalling for
internal political reasons, the main one being whether the Tsar
should be canonised as a saint and martyr, as desired by some
churchmen. Metropolitan Yuvenaly of Krutitskoye and Kolomna
acknowledged it would be a "big scandal" if the Tsar was
canonised, only for it to emerge that the remains were not
The church's case for not accepting the DNA test results rests in
part on reports that the bodies were destroyed by fire and acid.
Although no one cares to say it, a vision or a miracle would do
more than a thousand scientific tests to convince the deeply
traditional Orthodox Church of the authenticity of the remains.
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