All Romanovs are equal to us

Ivan Artsishevski
`All Romanovs are equal to us`

Preparation for the burial of the Imperial family is going to end. The government of Russia has already determined that it will be represented by Boris Nemtsov, Natalia Dementieva and 5 millions rubles. The Church has determined that it will only conduct a requiem. Ivan Artsishevski, the head of the city`s commission on the tsar`s burial and the Chief of the Congress of Compatriots, assured the correspondent of `` Andrei Sinitsin that actually the ceremony is ready.

Ivan Sergeevich, are you sure to be in time?

The ceremony is being worked out in great details up to the positions of each person because it`s natural that we want it to be well-organized and irreproachable. The are still some problems such as the absence of the candle box in Peter and Paul`s Cathedral. At the moment there are operating schedules which determine responsibilities for everyone. For example, two dozens of services are engaged in the ceremony of entering Peter and Paul`s Fortress, they will see to it that the orchestra plays at the right time, the guard takes the right place and so on.

- Will the ceremony be rehearsed?

- Yes, it will be rehearsed on July 3-4.

Is the Funeral Service working for the ceremony?

Yes, it is going to deal with the coffins, arrange them in the catafalques and so on. The staff is to be provided with good-looking uniforms.

Are the uniforms being made?

Everything has already been bought.

Do you know the total of the burial cost?

The city`s money is spent on the city itself which means mainly road repaires. As to the federal budget, we`ve got about 5 millions rubles from it which is not much for such a ceremony. There are some things which one can`t economize on. For instance., the keen American taxpayers would never show an interest in how much money has been spent on the ceremony of President`s inauguration. If we want our children to love and respect our history, we should spend money on it.

What are the main items of expenditures?

These are the transport, the meals, and the main item is Peter and Paul`s Fortress. The plane `IL-86` is given by Aeroflot free of charge. Buses and automobiles are hired from the auto-department of the administration. For today we`ve bought seven catafalques.

Why seven?

Because we`ve got 9 coffins and 2 catafalques here in the city. Strictly speaking, we should have 10 catafalques as a reserve but in fact only 7 will be necessary.

Where did you buy them?

In Nizhni Novgorod

From GAZ ?

Yes, something like that.

Will there be anything memorial issued?

500 memorial bronze medals are planned to be issued with the permission of the United House of the Romanovs. On one side there will be `the profile of Nicholas II, the inscription `In memory of the burial of the remains of Nicholas II and some members of his family`, over the profile there will be the last phrase from the abdication `Let God help Russia`. On the other side you will see the exact copy of the grave stone which is held by a crying angel on one side and a crying woman on the other. Books dedicated to the identification will be sold and we are waiting for a number of printed copies from Moscow. An exhibition of Emperor and his family`s private things will be opened in Smolny Cathedral. That`s not the case for issuing any souvenirs. Although the medals will be on sale, their number will be only 500 and they will be of quite a serious character.

Where will the received money go?

I don`t know about the money which will be received from the books because it`s Moscow business and the profit from sale of the medals will be not very considerable. There is an idea to put it into the building of the protection of the place where the remains were found.

There was much anxiety about the arrival of the Romanovs and contradictions between them. Who is going to attend the ceremony?

- The commission determined the principle according to which we don`t invite anybody. There is no tradition of inviting for a funeral, even for such a special one. That`s why we are cooperating with Nemtsov`s personnel as well as with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and certain polite notices are sent: `we inform you that such a ceremony will take place and we`d like to have an honour of seeing you`.
Everyone is coming at their expense. At the moment we know that there will be about 54 Romanovs with their children and relatives, most of them being members of the United House of Romanovs. Also there will be a grandson and a granddaughter of the Emperor`s sister Ksenia Alexandrovna who are the closest relations. All Romanovs are equal for us and there is only a relation principle. We don`t consider any questions concerning succession to the throne , imperial houses and so on - all this is the business of the Romanovs . We regard them as relatives of the killed Emperor.

Have they confirmed their participation?

Yes, most of them have already confirmed it. They have bought airplane tickets and made hotel reservations. Though Michael Feodorovich said he was unlikely to come, he sent the application and it is interesting to note it was in Spanish. It was rather strange but he is quite an eccentric person and I think it was no more than one of his eccentric tricks. Besides the Romanovs, Botkin`s granddaughter and grandson are going to come. Michael Gorbachev expressed his intention to be present and Yuri Gorbachev is also going to come to Russia. He is an American artist and he is Russian by origin, his pictures are kept in the White House. As for other imperial houses, I know that Prince of Kent and Duke of Oldenburg have confirmed their participation but Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is engaged in the official work hasn`t given us any information.

Who will be the representatives of the government exept Nemtsov?

The government has applied for 30 officials to be outside and 10 officials to be in the Cathedral. I think we`ll have more problems with the number of guests coming a week before the ceremony.

Where are the guests going to live?

A room in the Astoria Hotel costs one thousand dollars per day and there are no vacant rooms actually. At the Grand Hotel Europe a single room costs $500-600 per day which is twice as expensive as usually. That`s why we decided to help the Romanovs informally and made hotel reservations for them at quite suitable prices. As to the rest, they`ll have to fend for themselves.

What`s your attitude to the resolution of the Russian Church?

The business of the commission is to accept the resolution of the Holy Synod as it is. I can express only my personal opinion as a man who organized the first Church Procession along the Nevski Prospect with the permission of this Synod and with the blessing of Metropolitan Ioann. I`m deeply surprised and astonished by the resolution and I think I know what`s behind it. To my mind, this resolution is far from being wise. But though I`m ashamed about the Church as an instituition, it doesn`t make me less Orthodox. I`m sorry that everything goes this way. The murder of the Emperor and his family was so brutal and now their burial faces difficulties because the authenticity of the remains has to be proved. But this is my personal opinion, the commission just organizes the ceremony.

Will any parts of the remains be left for further examinations?

Yes, certainly, and I think that`s right.

Andrei Sinitsin

Press Agency "Petropressa" especialy for SPBNEWS.RU project