Story from The Telegraph, January 19, 2011:
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 newspaper.
“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 has now closed a criminal probe aimed at naming those guilty for the murders, Mr Solovyov said.
Nevertheless, Mr Solovyov 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.
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.
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.
In October, 2008, Russia’s Supreme Court recognised Tsar Nicholas II and his family as victims of political repression.
But investigators from the state prosecutor’s office closed the probe into the killings in 2009, saying too much time had passed and all the suspects were dead.
Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, a claimant to head the imperial dynasty, then appealed to a Moscow court to reopen the case. The court upheld her complaint last year.
In a separate controversy, Mr 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.
“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 canonised all the members of the last Tsar’s family, but refuses to recognise the remains of Alexei and Maria, whose bodies were separated from the others and identified by DNA testing in 2008.