Manmohan’s family visits execution site of Russia’s last tsar

June 16th, 2009 - 4:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Manish Chand
Yekaterinburg (Russia), June 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s wife Gursharan Kaur, who has accompanied him to this Russian industrial city, Tuesday visited the site of the gruesome massacre of Russia’s last tsar and his family that has now turned into a centre of pilgrimage.

Tsar Nicholas II and his close family have been canonized and are now revered as saints. Hordes of Russians and tourists visit the Church of Spilt Blood that stands as a testimony to the dark past of revolutionary purges and Russia’s turn to reconciliation and spirituality in the post-glasnost era.

They light candles, say their prayers quietly and bow their heads in an act of atonement at this cellar-turned-church where the last tsar of Russia and his five young children were shot dead in cold blood over nine decades ago.

Archbishop Vikenty of the Russian Orthodox Church, dressed in priestly robes studded with precious stones and sporting a long beard, shepherded the prime minister’s family around the elegant interiors of the church and showed them the precise place where the organised massacre took place in a cellar.

As a Russian guide recalled that dark night of Jan 17, 1918, when the Bolshevik Guards called the Tsar and his family to the cellar and shot them, Kaur and her daughter Upinder, a historian who teaches at New Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College, appeared quite moved.

Legend has it that the bloodthirsty executioners had a tough time eliminating the tsar’s wife and her four daughters and a son as they were wearing heavy jewellery in their corsets. “Bullets bounced off them and they had to finally bludgeon them to death,” narrated Elena, a Russian guide.

Early this month, the Russian Prosecutor General’s office rehabilitated six other members of the former Russian royal family, Romanovs, by declaring them victims of repression.

Manmohan Singh Tuesday addressed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit here.

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