"TITTER YE NOT"
My wife reckons my
obsession with conspiracy theories is getting out of control.
I wonder how much dirty
money the Russian
government paid her to say that?
What's the name of the
Russian guy who invented
a cure for the common cold?
It's in the news today that
an ex- KGB spy is trying to buy a British newspaper.
Presumably, one of those with cut out eye holes.
What do you call a Russian
with Tourette's Syndrome?
My mate's opened up a new
chain of coffee shops in Russia.
It's called Tsarbucks.
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin 21 January [O.S. 9 January]
1869–30 December [O.S. 17 December] 1916) was a
gained considerable influence in late imperial Russia.
Born to a peasant family in the Siberian village of
Pokrovskoye, Rasputin had a religious conversion
experience after taking a pilgrimage to a monastery in 1897.
He has been described as a monk or as a "strannik"
(wanderer, or pilgrim), though he held no official position in
After traveling to St. Petersburg, either in 1903 or the winter
of 1904–5, Rasputin captivated some church and social leaders. He became a society
figure, and met the Tsar in November 1905.
In late 1906, Rasputin began acting as a healer for the Tsar and his wife Alexandra's son
was a divisive figure, seen by some Russians as a mystic, visionary, and prophet, and by
others as a religious charlatan. The high point of Rasputin's power was in 1915, when
Nicholas II left St Petersburg to oversee Russian armies fighting World War I, increasing
both Alexandra and Rasputin's influence. As Russian defeats in the war mounted, however,
both Rasputin and Alexandra became increasingly unpopular. In the early morning of 30
December [O.S. 17 December] 1916, Rasputin was assassinated by a group of conservative noblemen who opposed his influence over Alexandra and the Tsar.
There are few records of Rasputin's parents. His father, Efim (sometimes spelled Yefim), was a peasant farmer and church elder
who had been born in Pokrovskoye in 1842, and married
Rasputin's mother, Anna Parshukova, in 1863. Efim also worked as a government courier, ferrying people and goods between Tobolsk
and Tyumen. The couple had seven other children, all of whom died in infancy and early childhood; may have been a ninth child, Feodosiya. According to historian T. Fuhrmann, Rasputin was certainly close to Feodosiya and was godfather to her children, but "the records that have survived do not permit us to say more than that."
According to historian Douglas Smith, Rasputin's youth and early adulthood are "a black hole about which we know almost nothing",
though the lack of reliable sources and information did not stop others from fabricating stories about his parents and his youth after Rasputin's rise to fame. Historians agree, however, that like most Siberian peasants, including his mother and father, Rasputin was never formally educated, and he remained illiterate well into his early adulthood. Local archival records suggest that he had a somewhat unruly youth – possibly involving drinking, small thefts, and disrespect for local authorities – but contain no evidence of his being charged with stealing horses, blasphemy, or bearing false witness, all major crimes that he was later rumoured to have committed as a young man.
In 1886, Rasputin travelled to Abalak, where he met a peasant girl named Praskovya Dubrovina. After a courtship of several
months, they married in February 1887. Praskovya remained in Pokrovskoye throughout Rasputin's later travels and rise to prominence, and remained devoted to him until his death. The couple had seven children, though only three survived to
Dmitry (b. 1895), Maria (b. 1898) and Varvara (b. 1900).
In 1897, Rasputin developed a renewed interest in religion and left Pokrovskoye to go on a pilgrimage. His reasons for doing so are unclear:
according to some sources, Rasputin left the village to escape punishment for his role in a horse theft. Other sources suggest that he had a vision – either of the Virgin Mary, or of St. Simeon of Verkhoturye – while still others suggest that Rasputin's pilgrimage was inspired by his interactions with a young theological student, Melity Zaborovsky. Whatever his reasons, Rasputin's departure was a radical life change:
he was twenty-eight, had been married ten years, and had an infant son with another child on the way. According to Douglas Smith, his decision "could only have been occasioned by some sort of emotional or spiritual crisis."
Rasputin had undertaken earlier, shorter pilgrimages to the Holy Znamensky Monastery at Abalak and to Tobolsk's cathedral, but his visit to the St. Nicholas Monastery at Verkhoturye in 1897 was transformative. There, he met and was "profoundly humbled" by a starets (elder) known as Makary. Rasputin may have spent several months at Verkhoturye, and it was perhaps here that he learned to read and write, but he later complained about the monastery itself, claiming that some of the monks engaged in homosexuality and criticizing monastic life as too coercive. He returned to Pokrovskoye a changed man, looking dishevelled and behaving differently than he had before. He became a vegetarian, swore off alcohol, and prayed and sang much more fervently than he had in the past.
Rasputin would spend the years that followed living as a Strannik, (a holy wanderer, or pilgrim), leaving Pokrovskoye for months or even years at a time to wander the country and visit a variety of different holy sites. It is possible that Rasputin wandered as far Athos, Greece – the center of Orthodox monastic life – in 1900.
Father Grigori Efimovich Rasputin and adoring
of the Russian nobility - 1916
Back In The USSR - The Beatles
By the early 1900s, Rasputin had developed a small circle of acolytes, primarily family members and other local peasants, who prayed with him on Sundays and other holy days when he was in Pokrovskoye. Building a makeshift chapel in Efim's root cellar – Rasputin was still living within his father's household at the time – the group held secret prayer meetings there. These meetings were the subject of some suspicion and hostility from the village priest and other villagers. It was rumored that female followers were ceremonially washing him before each meeting, that the group sang strange songs that the villagers had not heard before, and even that Rasputin had joined the Khlysty, a religious sect whose ecstatic rituals were rumored to included self-flagellation and sexual orgies. According to historian Joseph Fuhrmann, however, "repeated investigations failed to establish that Rasputin was ever a member of the sect," and rumours that he was a Khlyst appear to have been unfounded.
Word of Rasputin's activity and charisma began to spread in
Siberia during the early 1900s. Sometime between 1902 and
he acquired a reputation as a wise and perceptive starets, or
holy man, who could help people resolve their spiritual crises
Despite rumours that Rasputin was having sex with some of his
female followers, he won over the father superior of the Seven
Lakes Monastery outside Kazan, as well as a local church
Archimandrite Andrei and Bishop Chrysthanos, who gave him a
letter of recommendation to Bishop Sergei, the rector of the St.
Petersburg Theological Seminary at the Alexander Nevsky
Monastery, and arranged for him to travel to St. Petersburg,
either in 1903 or in the winter of 1904–1905.
Upon meeting Sergei at the Nevsky Monastery, Rasputin was
introduced to a number of different church leaders, including
Archimandrite Feofan, who was the inspector of the theological
seminary, was well-connected in St. Petersburg society, and
later served as confessor to the Tsar and his wife. Feofan was
so impressed with Rasputin that he invited him to stay in his
home and became one of Rasputin's most important and
influential friends in St. Petersburg. According to Joseph T.
Fuhrmann, Rasputin stayed in St. Petersburg for only a few months on his first visit and
returned to Prokovskoye in the fall of 1903. Historian Douglas Smith, however, argues that it
is impossible to know whether Rasputin stayed in St. Petersburg or returned to Prokovskoye
at some point between his first arrival there and 1905. Regardless, by 1905 Rasputin had
formed friendships with several members of the aristocracy, including the "Black Princesses,"
who had married the Tsar's cousins ( Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich and
were instrumental in introducing
Rasputin to the Tsar and his family.
Rasputin first met the Tsar on November 1, 1905, at the Peterhof Palace. The tsar recorded the event in his diary, writing that he and Alexandra had "made the acquaintance of a man of God –Grigory, from Tobolsk province." Rasputin would not meet the Tsar and his wife again for some months:
he returned to Prokovskoye shortly after their first meeting and did not return to St. Petersburg until July 1906. On his return, Rasputin sent Nicholas a telegram asking to present the tsar with an icon of Simeon of Verkhoturye. He met with Nicholas and Alexandra on July 18 and again in October, when he first met their children. Joseph Fuhrmann has speculated that it was in October that Rasputin was first asked to pray for the health of Alexei. By December 1906, Rasputin had become close enough to the royal family to ask a special favour of the Tsar – that he be permitted to change his surname to Rasputin-Novyi (Rasputin-New). Nicholas granted the request and the name change was speedily processed, suggesting that the Tsar viewed – and treated – Rasputin favourably at that time.
Much of Rasputin's influence with the royal family stemmed from the belief by Alexandra and others that he had eased the pain and stopped the bleeding of the Tsarevich – who suffered from haemophilia – on several occasions. According to historian Marc Ferro, the Tsarina had a "passionate attachment" to Rasputin as a result of her belief that he could heal her son's affliction. Harold Shukman wrote that Rasputin became "an indispensable member of the royal entourage" as a result.
Rasputin had been rumoured to be capable of faith healing since his arrival in St. Petersburg, and the Tsarina's friend
Anna Vyrubova became convinced that Rasputin had miraculous powers shortly there after. Vyrubova would become one
of Rasputin's most influential advocates.
It is unclear when Rasputin first learned of Alexei's haemophilia, or when he first acted as a healer for Alexei. He may have been aware of Alexei's condition as early as October 1906, and was summoned by Alexandra to pray for Alexei when he had an internal haemorrhage in the spring of 1907. Alexei recovered the next morning.
During the summer of 1912, Alexei developed a haemorrhage in his thigh and groin after a jolting carriage ride near the royal hunting grounds at Spala, which caused a large hematoma. In severe pain and delirious with fever, the Tsarevich appeared to be close to death. In desperation, the Tsarina asked Vyrubova to send for Rasputin (who was in Siberia) a telegram, asking him to pray for Alexei. Rasputin wrote back quickly, telling the Tsarina that "God has seen your tears and heard your prayers. Do not grieve. The Little One will not die. Do not allow the doctors to bother him too much." The next morning, Alexei's condition was unchanged, but Alexandra was encouraged by the message and regained some hope that Alexei would survive. Alexei's bleeding stopped the following day.
Historian Robert K. Massie has called Alexei's recovery "one of the most mysterious episodes of the whole Rasputin legend." The cause of his recovery is unclear:
Massie speculated that Rasputin's suggestion not to let doctors disturb Alexei had aided his recovery by allowing him to rest and heal, or that his message may have aided Alexei's recovery by calming Alexandra and reducing the emotional stress on Alexei. Alexandra, however, believed that Rasputin had performed a miracle, and concluded that he was essential to Alexei's survival. Some writers and historians, such as Ferro, have claimed that Rasputin stopped Alexei's bleeding on other occasions through hypnosis.
Rasputin became a controversial figure, involved in a paradigm of sharp political struggle involving monarchist and
antimonarchist, revolutionary and other political forces and interests. He was accused by many eminent persons of various misdeeds, ranging from an unrestricted sexual life (including raping a nun) to undue political domination over the royal family.
Even before Rasputin's arrival, the upper class of St Petersburg had been widely influenced by mysticism. Individual aristocrats were reportedly obsessions with anything occult. Alexandra had been meeting a succession of Russian "holy fools," hoping to find an intercessory with God. Papus three times, in 1901, 1905, and 1906, serving the Tsar and Tsarina both as physician and occult consultant. After Papus returned to France, Rasputin came into the picture. In those days Imperial Russia was confronted with a religious renaissance, a widespread interest in spiritual-ethical literature and non-conformist moral-spiritual movements, an upsurge in pilgrimage and other devotions to sacred spaces and objects. The "God-Seeking" were shaping their own ritual and spiritual lives (sometimes in the absence of clergy).
In his religious views Rasputin was close to the so-called Khlysts, an obscure Christian sect with strong Siberian roots. In September 1907 the "Spiritual Consistory" of Tobolsk accused Rasputin of spreading false doctrines, kissing and bathing with women. During the enquiry Rasputin disappeared it seems and "the effort of local priests to discipline their most troublesome parishioner failed." According to Oleg Platonov:
"The case was fabricated so clumsily that it ‘works’ only against its own authors. No wonder the documents were never published. Nothing but allusions were made to its existence." In 1908 Theofan travelled to Siberia and examined all the documents from the Tobolsk
inquiry, but failed to find anything of interest.
While fascinated by Rasputin in the beginning, the ruling class of St
Petersburg began to turn against him as he had privileges no one
else had, an easy access to the Imperial Family. In 1909, within four
months, Rasputin had visited the Romanovs six times. The press
started a campaign against Rasputin, claiming he paid too much
attention to young girls and women. Theofan lost his interest and
Stolypin wanted to ban him from the capital. When Rasputin arrived in
St Petersburg, he returned within three weeks to his home village,
according to Spiridovich.
Early in 1911 the Tsar instructed Rasputin to join a group of pilgrims.
From Odessa they sailed to Constantinople, Smyrna, Ephesus,
Patmos, Rhodes, Cyprus, Beirut, Tripoli, and Jaffa. Around Lent 1911
Rasputin paid a visit to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. On his way
back he visited Iliodor who gathered huge crowds in Tsaritsyn. In
early 1912, Hermogen, who told Rasputin to stay away from the
palace, repeated the rumours that Rasputin had joined the Khlysty.
Iliodor, hinting that Rasputin was Alexandra's paramour, showed Makarov a satchel of letters, one written by the Tsarina and four by her daughters. The given or stolen letters were handed to the Tsar. Rodzianko requested Rasputin to leave the capital. When Vladimir Kokovtsov became prime minister he asked the Tsar permission to authorize Rasputin's exile to Tobolsk, but Nicholas refused. "I know Rasputin too well to believe all the tittle-tattle about him." Kokovtsov offered Rasputin 200,000 rubles, equalling $100,000, if he would leave the capital. Rasputin had become one of the most hated people in Russia.
There is little or no proof that he was a member of the Khlysty, but Rasputin does appear to have been influenced by their practices. He accepted some of their beliefs, for example those regarding sin as a necessary part of redemption. He believed that those deliberately committing fornication and then repenting bitterly, would be closer to God. Suspicions that Rasputin, a good dancer, was one of the Khlysty tarnished his reputation right until the end of his life. The basis for the denunciation of Rasputin as a Khlyst was mixed bathing, a common custom among the peasants in many parts of Siberia.
After the Spała accident, where the careless Tsesarevich climbed into a boat and fell, Rasputin regained influence at court and also in church affairs when a new bishop was appointed in Tobolsk. His position as an intermediary had been dramatically validated, but the Holy Synod frequently attacked Rasputin, accusing him of a variety of immoral or evil practices. Rasputin was variously accused of being a heretic, an erotomaniac or a pseudo-khlyst. On the 21st of February 1913 Rodzianko ejected Rasputin from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan shortly before the celebration of 300 years of Romanov rule in Russia. He had established himself in the front seats which Rodzianko, after great difficulty, had secured for the Duma.
Rasputin's behaviour was discussed in the Fourth Duma, and in March 1913 the Octobrists, led by Alexander Guchkov
commissioned an investigation, but "anyone bold enough to criticize Rasputin found only condemnation from the Tsarina." Worried with the threat of a scandal, the Tsar asked Rasputin to leave for Siberia. Nicholas had accepted investigations on Rasputin, but the new bishop in Tobolsk, dismissed the case. The investigations were stopped and Nicholas decided to criticize the politicians. He and his wife referred to Grigori as our "Friend" and a "holy man", emblematic of the trust that the family had placed in him. The Tsar dismissed Kokovtsov on the 29th of January 1914. He was replaced by the absent
minded Ivan Goremykin, and Pyotr Bark.
According to Pavel Milyukov, in May 1914 Rasputin had become an influential factoring Russian politics. On the 27th of June 1914 Rasputin arrived from the capital in Pokrovskoye. Around 3:00 pm of Sunday the 12th of July 1914, Rasputin went out from the house in reply to a telegram he had received. Returning to his house he was suddenly attacked by one Khionia Guseva. This woman, who had her face concealed with a black kerchief, approached him and pulled out a dagger. She stabbed Rasputin in the stomach, just above the navel. Rasputin asserted that he ran down the street with his hands on his belly. Guseva claimed that she chased him, but Rasputin grabbed a stick from the ground and hit her. Covered with blood, Rasputin was brought into his house. Just before midnight a doctor arrived from the neighbouring village and operated on him by candlelight.
Rasputin was transported by boat on Thursday to Tyumen, accompanied by his wife and daughter. The Tsar sent his own physician and after a laparotomy and more than six weeks in the hospital, where he had to walk around in a gown, unable to wear ordinary clothes, Rasputin recovered. On the 17th of August 1914 he left the hospital; mid September he was back
in Petrograd. His daughter Maria records that Rasputin believed that Iliodor and Vladimir Dzhunkovsky had organized the attack, and that he was never the same man afterwards. According to her, he started to drink Georgian or Crimean dessert wines.
After the attack, Iliodor, dressed as a woman, fled with the help of Maxim Gorki all the way around the Gulf of Bothnia to Oslo. Guseva, a fanatically religious woman, had been his adherent in earlier years "denied Iliodor's participation, declaring that she attempted to kill Rasputin because he was spreading temptation among the innocent." On the 12th of October 1914 the investigator declared that Iliodor was guilty of inciting the murder, but the local procurator decided to suspend any action against him for undisclosed reasons, Guseva was locked in a madhouse in Tomsk and a trial was avoided. Most of Rasputin's enemies had by now disappeared. Stolypin was dead, Count Kokovtsov had fallen from power, Theofan was exiled, Hermogen banished and Iliodor in hiding.
Shortly before the outbreak of World War I, Rasputin spoke out against Russia going to war with Germany. He begged the Tsar to do everything in his power to avoid war. From the hospital Rasputin sent quite a few telegrams to the court, expressing his fears for the future of the country. "If Russia goes to war, it will be the end of the monarchy, of the Romanovs and of Russian institutions." During the July Crisis the Tsar ordered first general and then partial mobilization to support the Kingdom of Serbia. He expected Germany would never attack Russia, France and England combined.
Russia expected that the war would last until Christmas, but after a year the situation on the Eastern front had become disastrous; more than 1,5 million Russian soldiers had died. In the big cities there was a shortage of food and high prices and the Russian people blamed all on "dark forces" or spies
for and collaborators with Germany. On the 26th of May
1915 shops in Moscow, owned by foreigners, were
attacked. The crowd called for the Empress, who had
German roots, to be locked up in a convent. In July
Lenin published an article calling for the defeat of the
Russian government. He rejected both the defense of
Russia and the cry for peace. When the German army
occupied Warsaw in August 1915 the situation looked
extremely grave, because of a shortage in weapons
and munitions due to bad rail connections. As a result
the Russian army had to withdraw. Vladimir
Sukhomlinov left on charges of abuse of power and
Tsar Nicholas took supreme command of the Russian
armies on the 23rd of August 1915, hoping this would lift morale. He was undoubtedly led to this fateful decision by the insistence of the Tsarina and of Rasputin who, according to Maklakov, seem to have been the only ones who supported the Tsar in his decision. "Having one man in charge of the situation would consolidate all decision making." However, there proved to be dire consequences for himself as well as for Russia. It seems all the Romanov's despised his decision; Duchess Vladimir wasn't the only one who feared the Empress would "be the sole ruler of Russia". All the ministers, even Ivan Goremykin, realized that the change would put Alexandra and Rasputin in charge and threatened to resign. The Progressive bloc demanded the forming of a "government of confidence", but the Tsar rejected these proposals. The Imperial Duma was sent into recess on the 3rd of September and would not gather again until the 9th of February 1916. Vasily Maklakov published his famous article, describing Russia as a vehicle with no brakes, driven along a narrow mountain path by a "mad chauffeur".
On the 19th of August 1915, after an unsuccessful attempt to discredit Rasputin and the Tsarina in a newspaper, Prince Vladimir Orlov and Vladimir Dzhunkovsky were discharged from their posts. The Tsar then pronounced the relationship between Rasputin and his wife to be a private one, and closed to debate.
On the eve of the war the government and the Duma were hovering round one another like indecisive wrestlers, neither side able to make a definite move. The Great Retreat made the political parties more cooperative and practically formed into one party. On the 24th of August the Progressive Bloc, a combination of Octobrists, Kadets, and Nationalists, was formed.
While seldom meeting with Alexandra personally after the debate in the Duma, Rasputin had become her personal adviser through daily telephone calls or weekly meetings with Vyrubova. This was especially the case after August 1915 when the Emperor left Petrograd for Stavka at the front, leaving his wife Alexandra Feodorovna to act in his place. Rasputin's personal influence over the Tsarina had become so great that it was he who ordered the destinies of Imperial Russia, while she compelled her weak husband to fulfill them. According to Fuhrmann a symbiotic relationship developed between the Tsarina and Rasputin, in which "each fed from the other". According to Pierre Gilliard "her desires were interpreted by Rasputin, they seemed in her eyes to have the sanction and authority of a revelation." "The Tsar had resisted the influence of Rasputin for a long time. At the beginning he had tolerated him because he dare not weaken the Tsarina's faith in him – a faith which kept her alive. He did not like to send him away, if Alexei Nicolaievich had died, in the eyes of the mother he would have been the murderer of his own son."
In late 1915 Alexandra and Rasputin advised the Tsar in military strategies around Riga where the Germans were stopped. It seems the two also dominated the Holy Synod. Rasputin was invited to see Alexei when the 11-year-old boy had another serious bleeding.
Alexei Khvostov and Iliodor or Beletsky concocted a plan to kill Rasputin. Khvostov repeated the rumour suggesting that Alexandra and Rasputin were German agents or spies. Evidence that Rasputin actually worked for the Germans is flimsy at best. According to Kerensky people around Rasputin were interested in strategic information. Rasputin himself never cared much about money and gave it away as soon he had received it. He had built up a reputation of being at once a generous and a disinterested man. Besides alms Rasputin spent large sums in restaurants, cafes, music halls and in the streets...
Rather paranoid, Rasputin went to Alexander Spiridovich, head of the palace police, on the 1st of March. He was constantly in a state of nervous excitement. Khvostov had to resign within a week and was banned to his estate.
On the 1st of November the government under Boris Stürmer was attacked by Pavel Milyukov in the Imperial Duma. In his speech he spoke of "Dark Forces" to avoid the name of Rasputin and Alexandra. He highlighted numerous governmental failures, including the case Suchomlinov, concluding that Stürmer's policies placed in jeopardy the Triple Entente. After
each accusation– many times without basis–he asked "Is this stupidity or is it treason?" and the listeners answered "stupidity!", "treason!", or "both!"; Stürmer, followed by all his ministers, walked out. Stürmer and Protopopov asked in vain
for the dissolution of the Duma. Ivan Grigorovich and Dmitry Shuvayev declared in the Duma that they had confidence in the Russian people, the navy and the army; the war could be won. Grand Duke Alexander and his brother George Mikhailovich
requested the Tsar to fire Stürmer. Sir George Buchanan also attempted to influence the Tsar, but the latter did not appreciate the British ambassador's advice.
Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich, according to M. Nelipa one of the key players, prince Lvov and general Mikhail Alekseyev, who believed secret strategic information had gone through the hands of Alexandra and Rasputin, attempted to persuade Nicholas to send the Empress away either to the Livadia Palace in Yalta or to England. In August Rasputin told Alexandra the Russian army should not cross the Carpathians; the losses would be too great. On the 18th the Tsar asked his wife not to tell Rasputin about his plans concerning the Brusilov Offensive; troops were sent from Riga to the south. On the 20th of September the offense was stopped by the Tsar, because of the enormous losses in four months. The Russian Army (in Romania) was both demoralized and nearly out of supplies.
On the 19th of November the popular Vladimir Purishkevich held a two-hour speech in the
Duma, accusing the government of "Germanophilism" and stifling "public initiative." The trouble
was that the different ministries did not cooperate. The government was the problem. The
monarchy – because of what he called the "ministerial leapfrog" – had become "fully discredited".
"The Tsar's ministers who have been turned into marionettes, marionettes whose threads have
been taken firmly in hand by Rasputin and the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna —the evil
genius of Russia and the Tsarina ... who has remained a German on the Russian throne and
alien to the country and its people."
Purishkevich, a buffoon character, stated that Rasputin's influence over the Tsarina had made
him a threat to the empire "an illiterate moujik shall govern Russia no longer!" "While Rasputin is
alive, we cannot win". Prince Felix Yusupov was impressed by the remarkable speech. He
visited Purishkevich, who quickly agreed to participate in the murder of Rasputin. Yusupov
approached the lawyer Vasily Maklakov, who agreed to advise Felix. Also Grand Duke Dmitri
Pavlovich received Yusupov's suggestion with alacrity, and his alliance was welcomed as
indicating that the murder would not be a demonstration against the Romanov dynasty. Then
Yusupov approached Sergei Mikhailovich Sukhotin (1887-1926) who served with the Guards Rifle Brigade, Life Guards Infantry, but recuperating from injuries in Hotel Astoria. In December 1916 Felix Yusupov became extremely worried about the tsarina as regent; the Duma would lose and Rasputin would gain influence. A separate peace between Russia and Germany could become reality, a few months before the USA, preparing itself, stepped into World War I.
With the help of general A. A. Mosolov, his brother-in-law, Trepov offered a substantial amount of money a bodyguard and a house to Rasputin, if he would leave politics. Rasputin apparently feared that he would die before the end of the year. His death might be expected at any time. It seems he accepted his destiny. On the 13th December Rasputin warned against the influence of Trepov. It seems he hardly left his house. It is most likely he burned his correspondence and moved money to
his daughters from his bank account.
On Friday afternoon, the 16th of December, Rasputin returned from the "banya" at 3 p.m. About seven individuals visited his apartment. Around 8 p.m. he told Anna Vyrubova, who presented him a small icon, signed and dated at the back by the Tsarina and her daughters, of a proposed midnight visit to Yusupov in his palace. Protopopov, a late visitor who only stayed ten minutes, seems to have begged him not to go out that night. Nelipa thinks what happened next was intentionally timed; both Grand Duke Dmitry and Purishkevich, assisting at the front, had arrived in the city. Rasputin was murdered on the night after the Duma went into recess. "The forthcoming recess would eliminate the otherwise predictable uproar from any of the delegates at the Tauride Palace, had the murder been arranged a few days earlier."
OF THE RUSSIAN
“When the bell tolls three times, it will announce that I have been killed. If I am killed by common men,
you and your children will rule Russia for centuries to come; if I am killed by one of your stock,
you and your family will be killed by the Russian people! Pray Tsar of Russia. Pray.”
There are very few facts between the night Rasputin disappeared and the day his corpse was dredged up from the river. "As far as the Yusupov Palace is concerned, the Police had no right to make inquiries unless invited to do so. The Director of Police was unable to ask the simplest of questions such as who was present at the palace on the
night," and "nothing other than a cursory search was allowed inside." So the murder of Rasputin has become something of a legend, some of it invented, perhaps embellished or simply misremembered.
Yusupov, who had visited Rasputin in the past few months for treatment, invited Rasputin to the MoikaPalace, intimating
his wife, Princess Irina, would be back from Koreiz and Rasputin could meet her after a housewarming party. (Yusupov later denied his wife was involved). Around midnight, on Friday 16 Saturday 17 December, Prince Felix went with Dr. Stanislaus de Lazovert to Rasputin's apartment. Yusupov didn't use the regular stairs at this unseemly hour, but a stairwell in the courtyard. Around one o'clock in the morning they drove to the recently refurbished palace, where a sound-proof room, part of the wine cellar, had been specially prepared for the crime. According to Purishkevich they had placed four bottles, containing different kinds of sweet wines, in a window. Waiting in his drawing room on another floor were the fellow conspirators:
Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, Purishkevich, his assistant Lazovert and Sukhotin, a friend of Felix's mother. It seems some women were invited but Yusupov did not mention their names; Radzinsky suggested Dimitri's step-sister Marianne Pistohlkors and film star Vera Karalli.
According to Yusupov in his memoirs, he offered Rasputin tea and petit fours laced with a large amount of cyanide. Maurice Paléologue, who in later years rewrote his memoirs, seems to know they discussed spirituality and occultism; Albert Stopford writes that politics was the issue. Purishkevich, a teetotaller, mentions he could hear bottles were opened. (It is highly likely Yusupov offered Rasputin top wines from the Crimea, from his own vineyard, and perhaps a cherry brandy.)
After an hour or so Rasputin was fairly drunk. Yusupov went upstairs and came back with Dmitri's revolver. Rasputin was shot at close quarters by Felix sitting left of him. The bullet entered the chest, penetrating the stomach and the liver; it left the body on the right side. Then Rasputin fell onto a white bearskin.
However, Yusupov did not succeed in killing Rasputin. After a while "Rasputin opened his eyes and became aware of his predicament." He struggled up the stairs to reach the first landing, opening an unlocked door to the courtyard, which had been—not long before—used by Yusupov's conspirators. Alarmed by the noise, Purishkevich went down and fired at Rasputin four times, missing three times (from an unknown distance according to Nelipa). The bullet penetrated the right kidney and lodged into the spine. Rasputin never reached the gate, but fell into the snow, just outside the door. Then the body was carried back inside. A nervous Yusupov severely hit his victim in his right eye with his shoe. Both shots were fatal; he would have died within 10–20 minutes, but when the body made a sudden movement, one of them placed his revolver on the forehead and pulled the trigger.
Two city policemen on duty heard a 'rapid fire' of gunshots; they had also seen cars coming and leaving. They discussed the issue on the Pochtamtsky Bridge. One of them questioned Yusupov's butler for details, but were sent away.
Twenty minutes later they was re-invited to the
palace. Purishkevich boasted he had shot Rasputin and asked the policeman, aware of his mistake, to keep it quiet for the sake of the Tsar. However this policeman told his superiors everything he had heard and seen.
When I go to confession I don't offer God small sins, petty squabbles, jealousies... I offer him sins worth forgiving!"
The conspirators had planned to burn Rasputin’s possessions; Sukhotin put on Rasputin’s fur coat, his galoshes, and gloves. He left together with Dmitri Pavlovich and Dr. Lazovert in Purishkevich's car, to suggest that Rasputin had left the palace alive. Because Purishkevich's wife refused to burn the fur coat and the rubber galoshes in her small fire place in Purishkevich's ambulance train, the conspirators went back to the palace with these large items.
When the body was wrapped in a broadcloth, Dimitri and his fellow conspirators drove in the direction of Krestovsky island and threw the corpse from the car over the railing into an ice-hole in the Malaya Nevka River. They drove back, without noticing that one of Rasputin's galoshes was stuck between the pylons of the bridge. Unfortunately for the plotters his coat "formed an air bell" and the corpse drifted into an ice mass; it prevented the body’s disposal into the sea.
The next morning, at 8 a.m. the police came to Rasputin's apartment, and asked his daughters where their father was. At eleven he still had not shown up. Then Rasputin's disappearance was reported by Maria to Vyrubova. When Vyrubova spoke of it to the Empress, Alexandra pointed out that Princess Irina was absent from Petrograd. When Protopopov mentioned the story reported by the policemen at the Moika, they began to believe that Rasputin had been lured into an ambush. On the Empress' orders, a police investigation commenced and traces of blood were discovered on the steps to the backdoor of the Yusupov Palace. Felix explained the blood with a story that by accident one of his dogs was shot by Grand Duke Dmitri. They both tried to gain access to the empress on Sunday. The Tsarina refused to meet the two, but said they could explain to her what had happened in a letter. Purishkevich assisted them writing and left the city at ten in the evening, heading to the front. The next day Prince Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitri were placed under house arrest in the Sergei Palace when an Uhlenhuth test showed the blood was of human origin. Felix refused to tell the police where the body was.
In the afternoon, traces of blood were detected on the parapet of the Bolshoy Petrovsky bridge and one of Rasputin's galoshes was found under the bridge. Maria and her sister confirmed it belonged to their father. It was late, but the police knew where to investigate. On Monday morning, 19 December (O.S.), Rasputin's beaver-fur coat and the body were discovered close to the river bank, 140 meters west of the bridge. The police and government officials arrived within 15 minutes. In the late afternoon it was decided the frozen corpse had to be taken to the desolate Chesmensky Almshouse.
On the next day Makarov was fired, for hindering a police investigation. In the evening an autopsy on the thawed corpse by Kosorotov, a forensic expert, in a poorly lit mortuary room established that the cause of his instant death was the third bullet in his frontal lobe, according to Nelipa with strong evidence there was an exit wound at the back of the head. (His official report is still missing.) The first and third shots were made at close range, but had exited his body. The second bullet was extracted. There was alcohol in his body, but no water found in his lungs and no cyanide in his stomach. (Maria Rasputin asserts that, after the attack by Guseva, her father suffered from hyperacidity and avoided anything with sugar. She and Simanovitch, doubted he was poisoned at all.) There were a number of injuries, most of them supposedly caused after his death. His right eye was struck by a blunt object, e.g. a boot, his right cheek was shattered when the body hit the pylon of the bridge.
On 21 December Rasputin's body was taken in a zinc coffin from the Chesmensky Almshouse to be buried in a corner on the property of Vyrubova and adjacent to the palace. The burial at 8.45 in the morning was attended by the Imperial couple with their daughters, Vyrubova, her maid, and a few of Rasputin's friends, such as Lili Dehn, Protopopov and Colonel Loman. It is not clear whether Rasputin's two daughters were present, although Maria Rasputin claimed she was there. Later that day Irina's father Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich wrote to the Tsar to close the case. After a week and without an interrogation or a trial the Tsar sent Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich, and Yusupov into exile. He ensured that Rasputin's murder would never become a matter for the court to judge. On Saturday 24 December Dmitri left at two in the morning for Qazvin in Persia, Felix for Rakitnoe, his estate near Belgorod; the police were ordered to stop their inquest.
On 27 December the hesitating Nikolai Golitsyn became the
successor of Trepov, who was allowed to retire. Also Pavel
Ignatieff, Alexander Makarovand Dmitry Shuvayev were
replaced. "In the seventeen months of the `Tsarina's rule', from
September 1915 to February 1917, Russia had four Prime
Ministers, five Ministers of the Interior, three Foreign Ministers,
three War Ministers, two Ministers of Transport and four
Ministers of Agriculture. This "ministerial leapfrog", as it came to
be known, not only removed competent men from power, but
also disorganized the work of government since no one
remained long enough in office to master their responsibilities."
More and more people came to the conclusion that the problem
was not Rasputin but the weak-willed Emperor, who had
secluded himself in Tsarskoe Selo unable to react on what had
happened. The struggle between the Tsar and the Duma
became more bitter than ever. Two rival institutions, the Duma
and the Petrograd Soviet, which had established itself in the Tauride Palace too, competed for power. During the February Revolution, the government had difficulties to suppress the riots. On 26 February, the Tsar ordered the army to suppress the rioting by force, troops began to mutiny and join the protesters and demanding a new constitutional government. The meeting of the Duma was prorogued by the Tsar, although Golitsyn opposed its dissolution. A private body of Duma members was formed to help restore order. "On the evening of 27 February the Council of Ministers of Russia held its last meeting in the Marinsky Palace and formally submitted its resignation to the Tsar. The Provisional Committee of theState Duma ordered the arrest of all the ex-ministers and senior officials"
Post-mortem photograph of Rasputin showing
the bullet wound in his forehead
The monarchy was deserted by all the élites of the old society, the
landowners, the army officers, the industrialists, and politicians of the Duma.
On 2 March 1917 (O.S.) Nikolai Ruzsky, Vasily Shulgin and Guchkov came
to the train station at Pskov to persuade the Tsar, accompanied by Vladimir
Freedericksz and Grand Duke Nicholas, to resign. On 4 March the
investigation on Rasputin was stopped by Kerensky and he extended an
amnesty to the three main conspirators.
On the 6 March the British prime minister David Lloyd George gave a
cautious welcome to the suggestion of the Russian Foreign Minister Pavel
Milyukov that the toppled Tsar and his family be given sanctuary in Britain
(although Lloyd George would have preferred that they go to a neutral
country). On the 8th all the movements of the imperial family were restricted
as the grave of Rasputin had become a place of worship for the Tsarina and
her daughters. Rasputin's secret grave site was found under a pile of rocks in the woods. The coffin was transported to the town hall, where a curious crowd gathered, and secured under guard over night. According to Moynahan:
"Rasputin’s face was found to have turned black, and an icon was found on his chest. It bore the signatures of Vyrubova, Alexandra, and her four daughters. The body was put into a packing case that once held a piano and was driven in secret to the imperial stables in Petrograd. The next day it was loaded onto a truck and taken out of Petrograd on the Lesnoe Road."
Authors do not agree what happened on the night of 10/11 March after the truck drove on its way north in the direction of Piskarevka in the Vyborgsky District. According to some authors, the truck broke down or the snow forced them to stop and the corpse was burned in a field. It is more likely the corpse was incinerated (between 3 and 7 in the morning) in the cauldrons of the nearby boiler shop of the Saint Petersburg State Polytechnical University, including the coffin, without leaving a single trace. Anything that had to do with Rasputin disappeared permanently.
The official police report, with details gathered in two days, and stopped with the idea the murder was solved, is unconvincing. "Unfortunately, after the Soviets came to power, many of the documents that formed part of the official secret investigation have either been destroyed, or have disappeared." What is left are the memoirs of the murderers, the 29-year-old Felix Yusupov and 47-year-old Vladimir Purishkevich. The theatrical details of the murder given by Felix have never stood up to scrutiny. He changed his account several times; the statement given to the Petrograd police, the accounts given whilst in exile in the Crimea in 1917, his 1927 book, and finally the accounts given under oath to libel juries in 1934 and 1965 all differ to some extent.
"When asked [in 1965] by his attorney as to his motive in killing Rasputin, he announced that he was motivated by his 'distaste for Rasputin's debaucheries.' This represented a major shift from his argument since 1917 that emphasized that
he was motivated solely by patriotism for Russia."
Yusupov's role in the murder has been called into question,
being consumed by the thought that "not a single important
event at the front was decided [during the war] without a
preliminary conference" between Alexandra and Rasputin.
Concerning the details of the murder, not even the
murderers could give consistent accounts. Differing opinions
ranged from the colour of shirt he wore to whose weapon or
car was used or even where he was finally wounded.
Purishkevich said he fired at Rasputin from behind at a
distance of twenty paces and hit Rasputin in the back of the
head. However, there is no photo of the rear of Rasputin’s
Neither Purishkevich nor Yusupov mention the close quarter
shot to the forehead. The caliber of the weapon that was used cannot be measured. "The hypothesis that the gunshot to the head was caused by an unjacketed bullet (of British origin) is not supported by the forensic findings or police forensic photographs." Nelipa thinks it is not very likely a Webley .455 inch and an unjacketed bullet was used, because its impact would have been different.
According to the 1916 autopsy report by Dmitri Kosorotov, two bullets had passed through the body, so it was impossible to tell how many people were shooting and to determine whether only one kind of revolver was used. "Kosorotov never stated that different calibre weapons were responsible."
There were two officers of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) in Petrograd at the time. Lieutenant Oswald Rayner and Captain Stephen Alley, born in a Arkhangelskoye Palace near Moscow in 1876, where his father was one of the prince's tutors. Rayner knew Yusupov since they had met at University of Oxford. "Cook might be right that a British agent was present at the Yusupov Palace on the night of Rasputin’s murder" but "Rayner did not have to do any more than stand back and wait until the Russians would complete their pre-arranged task."
Fuhrmann suggests Buchanan knew already at 5.30 in the morning Rasputin was dead (and not missing). According to Sir Samuel Hoare, head of the British Intelligence Service in Russia:
"If MI6 had a part in the killing of Rasputin, I would have expected to have found some trace of that".