("Quid coniuratio est?")
CHURCH PREVENTS TSAR'S REBURIAL
Electronic Telegraph Friday 9 February 1996
Church prevents Tsar's reburial
BY ALAN PHILPS IN MOSCOW
THE reburial of the remains of Tsar Nicholas II has been postponed because the Russian Orthodox Church does not accept scientific findings that the bones are genuine.
DNA tests on the remains found in a mass grave outside the Urals city of Yekaterinburg in 1991 convinced scientists last year that the bodies were those of the last Tsar and his family, shot by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
Russian judicial authorities closed the case and a provisional burial date of Absolution Sunday, which this year falls on Feb 25, was chosen by the mayor of St Petersburg. But the Russian Orthodox Church opposes the reburial, saying that it is not convinced the remains are genuine.
This has forced the Russian government, which had endorsed the identification, to continue its investigations, although it is hard to imagine what firmer scientific proof could be found.
"This year is clearly not possible for the reburial. Next year on Absolution Sunday perhaps, but it depends on the Church," said Andrei Sebentsov, of the government commission on identification of the remains of the imperial family.
Mr Sebentsov said he was convinced by the DNA tests, made at the Home Office Forensic Science Service, in Aldermaston with blood donated by Prince Philip, a kinsman of the Tsar, and separately in Washington. "But the whole world has to be convinced, too."
The Russian government believes the church is stalling for internal political reasons, the main one being whether the Tsar should be canonised as a saint and martyr, as desired by some churchmen. Metropolitan Yuvenaly of Krutitskoye and Kolomna acknowledged it would be a "big scandal" if the Tsar was canonised, only for it to emerge that the remains were not genuine.
The church's case for not accepting the DNA test results rests in part on reports that the bodies were destroyed by fire and acid.
Although no one cares to say it, a vision or a miracle would do more than a thousand scientific tests to convince the deeply traditional Orthodox Church of the authenticity of the remains.
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