DNA shows no Romanovs survived massacre

 

THE MOST enduring and romantic legend of the Russian Revolution – that two children of Czar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, survived the slaughter that killed the rest of their family – may finally be put to rest with the positive identification of bone fragments from a lonely Russian grave.

The czar and his family were gunned down and stabbed by members of the Red Guard on July 17th, 1918, but persistent rumours have maintained that two of the children, the Grand Duchess Anastasia and her brother, Alexi, survived, perhaps because the diamonds sewn into their clothes blocked attempts to kill them.

Those hopes were bolstered with the 1991 revelation that nine bodies of Romanov family members and servants had been found in a Yekaterinberg grave, but that a son and daughter were still missing.

Now, newly analysed DNA evidence from a second, nearby grave discovered in 2007 proves that the bones are from the final two children. A report on the analysis was published online on Tuesday in the journal PLoS One.

“I think it is very compelling evidence that this family has been reunited finally,” said geneticist Terry Melton of Mitotyping Technologies in State College, Pennsylvania, an expert in forensic DNA.

Melton played a major role in disproving the claims of the late Anna Anderson that she was Anastasia, a claim that received a great deal of attention. Melton still receives several calls each year from people claiming to be direct descendants of the Romanovs.

“There is absolutely no doubt that these are the remains of the Romanov family,” said Peter Sarandinaki, founder of the Scientific Expedition to Account for the Romanov Children Foundation.

“The scientific results are, without a doubt, conclusive,” said Sarandinaki, the great-grandson of the White Army general who attempted to rescue the Romanovs before their deaths. Nicholas abdicated the throne in March 1917, ending the 304-year Romanov rule, and the family was banished to Siberia. The following year, the family, their doctor and three servants were executed by the Ural Red Guard on the orders of Vladimir Lenin, and their bodies were disposed of.

The original nine bodies were buried in Russia but not as royalty, Sarandinaki said. In May, he and Coble will present the new results to Russian Orthodox Church officials. “Hopefully, we will be able to convince the church , and at the end, the church will agree and finally give the family the decent and honourable burial they deserve,” he said. –( LA Times-Washington Postservice)