Russia to exhume Tsar Alexander III to try to solve riddle of last tsar's children
By Andrew Osborn
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian investigators say they plan to exhume the remains of Tsar Alexander III at the request of the Orthodox Church, the latest twist in a macabre effort to authenticate the remains of his son, the murdered last tsar, and his slain children.
The investigation will try to ascertain whether remains believed to be those of Alexei and Maria, two of Tsar Nicholas II's five children, are genuine and can be laid to rest in St. Petersburg. They were discovered in 2007, some distance from the other five members of the imperial family discovered earlier.
The church is also keen for further proof that the remains of Nicholas himself, whose family dynasty ruled Russia for 300 years, are bona fide.
All seven, including Nicholas's wife Alexandra, were murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918 along with their servants in the city of Yekaterinburg in the Urals.
Their bodies were first thrown into a mineshaft and then burnt and doused in acid before being buried elsewhere after the Bolsheviks thought locals had seen them dispose of the corpses.
Russian investigators who have conducted DNA tests say they are satisfied the remains of the two children are genuine. But the Orthodox Church, which has grown increasingly powerful under President Vladimir Putin, has demanded more proof.
"The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation together with representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church plans to exhume the remains of Emperor Alexander III, who was buried in 1894 in the Peter and Paul Cathedral," the investigators said in a letter to the museum complex.