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Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 19:23 GMT 20:23 UK
Russians mark tsar's execution
Believers carry an icon of St Nicholas the Miracle Worker
Religious processions took place throughout Russia

Thousands of pilgrims took part in a religious procession in Yekaterinburg on Tuesday night to mark the 84th anniversary of the execution of Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II.

The believers carried an icon of St Nicholas the Miracle Worker through the streets of Yekaterinburg to the place where the execution took place. The site is being replaced by a church locally referred to as the "Church on the Blood".


We know that the holy royal martyrs are all glorified in heaven

Priest Viktor Sergeyev

Russia's RTV television station says about 5,000 turned up for the outdoor service.

Priests said there were more pilgrims this year than ever before and they all stayed until the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Priest Viktor Sergeyev said there was no mourning "because we know that the holy royal martyrs are all glorified in heaven".

Orthodox Church

But the Russian Orthodox Church, the country's main religious association, maintains that the remains found in 1991 do not belong to the family of Russia's last tsar, as is widely believed.

The ceremony was a celebration, not mourning
Thousands attended the church service

Tsar Nicholas II and his family were killed by the Bolsheviks in the basement of Yekaterinburg's Ipatyev House in July 1918.

Remains found close to Ipatyev House in 1991 were buried in St. Petersburg in 1998 after a special commission confirmed that they belonged to the tsar and his family.

However, Russian Orthodox Church leaders and many others dispute the authenticity of the remains.


Executors completely destroyed the remains

Patriarch Alexy II

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II, recently told the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS that it is an "incontrovertible fact that Bolshevik executors of the Romanovs completely destroyed the remains".

"The Church experts trusted the results of the 1918 investigation by the Sokolov group which said the bodies of Nicholas II and his family members had been dissected and destroyed with sulphuric acid," the patriarch said.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

25 May 02 | Media reports
12 Jun 02 | Europe
10 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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