Friday, March 24, 2017

Public opinion of Czar Nicholas II, Romanov dynasty shifts

During the 1917 February Revolution, Czar Nicholas II and his family were overthrown and murdered in the 1917 February Revolution, but current public opinion of the ruler and his family has shifted as the city of Yekaterinburg recognizes the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Romanov dynasty.

Nicholas, who was killed at the age of 50 in Yekaterinburg, was once vilified for his persecution of religious and political opponents. Today, however, signs reading, "Nicholas II, please forgive us for killing you," can be seen throughout the city of Yekaterinburg, The Japan News reports.

Thirty minutes outside of the city is a forest of white birch trees in which a wooden arch is painted with the words "The Romanov Monument." Nearby is a cross marking the place where Nicholas II's remains were said to have been found, though public opinion is divided and state archive researcher Oksana Arkhipova said the site is rarely visited.

In the early 20th century, the last czar clamped down on uprisings staged by serfs and general strikes, eventually opening fire on 100,000 unarmed laborers who were demonstrating for political freedom and better working conditions on the day in January 1905 that has come to be known as "Bloody Sunday," according to The Japan News.

The February Revolution came 12 years later, when a provisional government supported by workers and soldiers seized power. After being taken prisoner, the czar and his family were eventually murdered in April 1918 to prevent the counter-revolutionary army from rescuing them.

The breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to the beginning of the rehabilitation of the czar's reputation, when President Boris Yeltsin sought to revive the Russian traditions and values of the dynastic period to help the nation reclaim its position as a superpower, The Japan News reports.

In 1998, Nicholas II's remains were laid to rest at a cathedral in St. Petersburg by the post-Soviet government. A Russian Orthodox church built near the site of the Ipatiev House, where the family was held prisoner, lights candles in a shrine engraved with "Martyr Saint Nicholas II."

Currently, there are materials on display commemorating the 400th anniversary of the dynasty's foundation. They describe the meager living conditions of the imprisoned family in the time leading up to their execution, according to The Japan News.