Tsar Nicholas Day
The Russian Imperial Romanov family (Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei) and all those who chose to accompany them into exile – notably Eugene Botkin, Anna Demidova, Alexei Trupp and Ivan Kharitonov – were shot in Yekaterinburg on 17 July 1918. The murder of the Tsar was carried out by the Ural Soviet which was led by Yakov Yurovsky. In the opinion of historians, the murder had been ordered in Moscow by Vladimir Lenin and Yakov Sverdlov to prevent the rescue of the Imperial Family by approaching White forces during the ongoing Russian Civil War.
There are several accounts on what happened and historians have not agreed on a solid, confirmed scope of events. By Yurovsky's (the chief executioner) account in the early hours of 17 July 1918, the royal family was awakened around 2:00 am, told to dress, and led down into a half-basement room at the back of the Ipatiev house. The pretext for this move was the family's safety—that anti-Bolshevik forces were approaching Yekaterinburg, and the house might be fired upon.
End of the myths
In 1979, the bodies of Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra, three of their daughters, and those of four non-family members killed with them, were discovered near Sverdlovsk by amateur archaeologist Alexander Avdonin. In January 1998, the remains excavated from underneath the dirt road near Yekaterinburg were officially identified as those of Nicholas II and his family (excluding one of his daughters and Alexei). The identifications, performed by separate Russian, British and American scientists using DNA analysis concur and were found to be conclusive.
These results have implications for forensic applications and studies of human evolution. The tests also determined that Nicholas II's mtDNA, as well as his brother's exhibited single base heteroplasmy. After the testing, the remains were finally interred at St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg on 17 July 1998, eighty years after the executions. The ceremony was attended by then Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who said, 'Today is a historic day for Russia. For many years, we kept quiet about this monstrous crime, but the truth has to be spoken.'
In July 2007, 46-year-old builder Sergei Pogorelov (part of a team from an amateur history group who spent free summer weekends looking for the lost Romanovs) said that after stumbling on a small burned area of ground covered with nettles near Yekaterinburg he had discovered bones that belonged to 'a boy and a young woman roughly the ages of Nicholas' 13-year-old hemophiliac son, Alexei, and a daughter whose remains also have never been found.' In March 2009, results of the DNA testing were published, confirming that the two bodies discovered in 2007 were those of Alexei and his sister Maria.
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Duke of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias. Like other Russian Emperors he is commonly known by the monarchical title Tsar (though Russia formally ended the Tsardom in 1721). He is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church and has been referred to as Saint Nicholas the Martyr.
Nicholas II ruled from 1 November 1894 until his forced abdication on 15 March 1917. His reign saw Imperial Russia go from being one of the foremost great powers of the world to economic and military collapse. Enemies nicknamed him Nicholas the Bloody because of the Khodynka Tragedy, the anti-Semitic pogroms, Bloody Sunday, his violent suppression of the 1905 Revolution, his execution of political opponents, and his pursuit of military campaigns on an unprecedented scale.
Under his rule, Russia was humiliatingly defeated in the Russo-Japanese War, which saw the almost total annihilation of the Russian Baltic Fleet at the Battle of Tsushima. The Anglo-Russian Entente, designed to counter German attempts to gain influence in the Middle East, ended the Great Game between Russia and the United Kingdom. As head of state, Nicholas approved the Russian mobilisation of August 1914, which marked the beginning of Russia's involvement in the First World War, a war in which 3.3 million Russians were killed. The Imperial Army's severe losses and the High Command's incompetent handling of the war, along with other policies directed by Nicholas during his reign, are often cited as the leading causes of the fall of the Romanov dynasty.
Nicholas II abdicated following the February Revolution of 1917 during which he and his family were imprisoned first in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, then later in the Governor's Mansion in Tobolsk, and finally at the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg. In the spring of 1918, Nicholas was handed over to the local Ural soviet by commissar Vasili Yakovlev who was then presented with a written receipt as Nicholas was formally handed over like a parcel. Nicholas II; his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna; his son, Alexei Nikolaevich; his four daughters, Olga Nikolaevna, Tatiana Nikolaevna, Maria Nikolaevna and Anastasia Nikolaevna; the family's medical doctor, Evgeny Botkin; the Emperor's footman, Alexei Trupp; the Empress' maidservant, Anna Demidova; and the family's cook, Ivan Kharitonov, were executed in the same room by the Bolsheviks on the night of 16/17 July 1918. This led to the canonisation of Nicholas II, his wife the Empress Alexandra and their children as passion bearers, a category used to identify believers who, in imitation of Christ, endured suffering and death at the hands of political enemies, on 15 August 2000 by the Russian Orthodox Church within Russia and, in 1981, as martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, located in New York City.
At the time of his death, his net worth was $900 million, which is the inflation adjusted equivalent to $13.7 billion in 2012 US dollars.