The Enigma That Was Rasputin: The Notoriety; The Debauchery and The Manipulation

Grigory Rasputin


Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin (1872-1916) was the infamous ‘holy man’ whose ability to heal the Tsar and Tsarina’s son Alexis led to his being adopted as a supreme mystic at court.  Growing in influence to the point where he effectively dictated policy he was eventually assassinated by a group of court conspirators in December 1916.

Born in 1872 at Pokrovskoye in Siberia to a peasant family, Rasputin’s limited education left him without the ability to either read or write.  Even at a young age he earned himself such a reputation for devoted debauchery that his actual name of Grigory Yefimovich Novykh was replaced with the surname ‘Rasputin’ – Russian for ‘debauched one’.

Having undergone a form of religious conversion while aged 18 Rasputin embraced the Khlysty sect.  Happily for Rasputin (given his reputation) the sect preached the notion that the closest relationship to God could best be achieved while exhausted from prolonged sexual engagements.

Rasputin married at age 19, to Proskovia Fyodorovna, who bore him four children.  Unsettled, Rasputin left his wife and travelled, variously to Greece and Jerusalem, where he established a reputation (self-created) as a holy man.

Winding up in St. Petersburg in 1903 Rasputin met up with the the Bishop of Saratov, Hermogen.  Since the Romanov court at that time was dabbling in mysticism Rasputin was recommended in 1905 by Hermogen to the royal couple.

However Rasputin’s rise to royal influence dates from his summons to the royal palace in an attempt to try and prevent their son Alexis’s continuing loss of blood (as a haemophiliac).  Where all others had failed Rasputin succeeding in stemming the boy’s loss of blood – probably through hypnotism – and Rasputin’s reputation as a mystic healer was sealed by the immense gratitude of the Tsar and (especially) the Tsarina.

Careful to maintain his pretence of being a humble if mystically talented peasant while in the royal couple’s presence, Rasputin however lost no time in indulging his voracious sexual appetite outside the court.  He shortly afterwards hit upon the satisfying discovery that sexual contact with his own body imbued a healing effect upon women.

The Tsar, informed in detail of Rasputin’s scandalous conduct, initially dismissed the ‘mad monk’ from court; however the influence of his wife, Alexandra, ensured his rapid recall.  Thereafter both Nicholas and Alexandra declined to give credence to further reports of Rasputin’s misbehaviour; indeed, Alexandra positively discouraged criticism of ‘our friend’.

Since news of Alexis’s condition was not allowed to be made general knowledge the public at large, unaware of Rasputin’s chief role as a healer at court, assumed that he was actively seducing Alexandra.  Salacious details of his general conduct, fed and (if it were possible) exaggerated by his many ill-wishers, became the subject of public scandal.

Rasputin’s influence continued into wartime.  Alexandra sought his opinion on a variety of policy matters.  Rasputin, generally ready to offer advice, occasionally offered advice on Russian military strategy, although such advice never proved beneficial.

In one sense Rasputin’s presence, while generally damaging public perception of the Romanovs, nevertheless benefited the Tsar.  Military calamities were often attributed by the Russian public to Rasputin’s baleful influence: as such it therefore deflected direct criticism away from the Tsar himself.

However with the Tsar’s decision to take personal command of his army from the front (thereby reliving his uncle, Grand Duke Nikolai, of the role), disaster beckoned.  Not only was the Tsar thereafter directly associated with the fruits of his army’s efforts (which continued its extended poor run), but in his absence domestic governance of political affairs was effectively left in the hands of the Tsarina and Rasputin (with the Prime Minister, Boris Sturmer, ever willing to defer to the Tsarina’s wishes).

With Rasputin offering advice on the appointment (and dismissal) of public and church officials, and rumour spreading that the Tsarina and Rasputin were in the pay of the Germans, a group of nobles at court, led by Felix Yusupov, determined to resolve the appalling damage inflicted by Rasputin upon the monarchy by arranging his murder.

Yusupov invited Rasputin to dine at his home on 29 December 1916 where he was given poisoned wine and cakes.  Alarmed at Rasputin’s apparent immunity to the poison Yusupov shot him in panic (“A shudder swept over me; my arm grew rigid, I aimed at his heart and pulled the trigger.”, Lost Splendor, 1953).

After a brief period of collapse Rasputin recovered and managed to escape into the courtyard, where he was again shot (by another conspirator, Vladimir Purishkevich).  Finally, presumably to make quite sure of the matter, Rasputin’s body was dropped through a hole in the Neva river, where he finally died by drowning.  His corpse was later discovered on the Neva’s banks.

As an attempt to salvage the credibility of the monarchy Yusupov’s bold move came too late; if anything, the murder of Rasputin removed a buffer between the royal family and their critics: no longer could the nation’s ills be attributed to the mad monk who had prophesied his own demise.


Tsarina Alexandra


A tragic if not sympathetic figure, the Tsarina Alexandra (1872-1918) suffered a tragic life that ended with the murder of both her and her family at the hands of the Bolsheviks in July 1918.

Born on 6 June 1872 in Darmstadt, Germany, Alexandra was a granddaughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria and the daughter of Louis IV, the Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt.

Orphaned at the age of six she married Tsar Nicholas II in 1894 and moved to Russia – a country she greatly disliked – there giving birth to four daughters before giving the Tsar a son, Alexis.  Tragically her new-born son proved to suffer from haemophilia.

The Tsarina’s anxious concern for her son’s illness led her to embrace Rasputin, a debauched ‘holy man’ who proved able to stem Alexis’ loss of blood (it has been suggested through hypnosis).

Already unpopular at court – where she firmly held sway over her husband – Alexandra’s unswerving loyalty to Rasputin (whom she believed had been sent by God to save the Russian throne) led her to continually excuse his notorious excesses, and further damaged her reputation both at court and in the public at large (whom she gave every indication of despising).

A fanatical believer in Russian Orthodoxy and a firm believer in the principles of autocratic rule, Alexandra lost no opportunity in asserting her husband’s right to lead his country.  She routinely dismissed her husband’s political advisers, even those who were both competent and remained loyal to the Tsar.

With the Tsarina having helped to engineer the dismissal of Grand Duke Nikolai – the Tsar’s uncle – from his position as Commander in Chief of the army, the Tsar subsequently announced his intention (against all advice) to take personal command of his armed forces.

Her husband having left for the front in August 1915, the Tsarina’s conduct in determining policy became ever more arbitrary and wanting in political judgment.  Vindictive and jealous, Alexandra continued to dismiss from office anyone she deemed disloyal to the Tsar, fairly or otherwise.

In an attempt to halt the seemingly endless stream of scandal emanating from the court, a group of conspirators led by Prince Felix Yusupov resolved to arrange Rasputin’s murder, which consequently took place on 16 December 1916.

Nevertheless it was too late to recover any semblance of credibility let alone popularity for the monarchy, particularly given that the Tsar’s ill-advised gamble in publicly associating himself so closely with the success of his army had backfired, the latter continuing to perform badly in the field.

Unfounded rumours abounded of the Tsarina’s collaboration with Germany (along with Prime Minister Sturmer), further cementing Alexandra’s deep unpopularity in the country.

She was nevertheless surprised by the February Revolution.  She joined her family (including the Tsar) in internal exile and was eventually executed, shot to death, by the Bolsheviks on the night of 16/17 July 1918 at Yekaterinburg.  She was 46.


The Sexual Obsession that drove Rasputin to his death: Countless myths have been woven about him. But a dazzling book, using private diaries, reveals new details of the self-styled ‘Christ in miniature’

  • The Russian mystic had an insatiable sex drive, writes FRANCES WELCH
  • It was even said the cows produced more milk with him around
  • But temptation would lead him to his death at the hands of his enemies


PUBLISHED: 01:37 GMT, 7 February 2014 | UPDATED: 01:37 GMT, 7 February 2014


For someone who described himself as ‘a Christ in miniature’ and had inveigled his way into Russia’s imperial court as a much-revered ‘Holy Man’, Grigori Rasputin spent his last day alive indulging in an astonishing amount of debauchery.

That snowy morning of December 16, 1916, had seen him staggering into his St Petersburg flat in the early hours, clearly embracing one of his favourite dictums, that wine was ‘God’s own remedy’.

This was by no means unusual according to the police bodyguards who watched over his home on the direct orders of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Tsarina Alexandra, the last rulers of the doomed Romanov dynasty.

Their reports described Rasputin at various times as ‘very drunk’, ‘dead drunk’ and ‘overcome with drink’. Shortly after returning to his flat, the Man of God, known for his shunning of sleep, was back on the street.

A brief lie-down had set him up for his next trip, to his beloved ‘banya’, the bath-house where he would have his genitals soaped by one of the ‘little ladies’, as he called his female followers, after which they would thrash him with twigs. After this rousing session, he was ready for a brisk walk to the nearest church to renounce Satan. As he said repeatedly: ‘Without sin there is no repentance.’

The evening found him back home, where he finished off his 12th bottle of Madeira wine in as many hours, before receiving a visitor, a plump blonde called ‘Sister Maria’.

His niece Anna, who was there, recalled that this was no sister of mercy. ‘She helped him to remove the tension that apparently took hold of him against his will,’ she recalled.

Rasputin and Sister Maria retired to his study where they set about removing some of that tension. But he could not dally with her for too long for he had one more appointment that night, with a beautiful young aristocrat called Princess Irina. He was to meet her at her sumptuous palace in St Petersburg after her dinner guests had gone home. It was an assignation he was looking forward to, yet one to which he should never have agreed.

For it was in that palace that he was about to meet his bizarre and brutal end — poisoned, beaten and ultimately shot by a gang of his enemies. As I discovered after using unpublished memoirs, diaries and letters to research a book on this extraordinary man, the fact that a vague promise of sex should have proved Rasputin’s downfall was unsurprising.

He was, after all, a man who considered the serial seduction of women to be some kind of religious duty.

Born in 1869, the son of a peasant, he grew up in the Siberian village of Pokrovskoye where his mystical gifts were reportedly in evidence by the time he was 12. It was said that the family cows produced more milk when he was around and he once solved a horse theft by prophesying correctly that the stolen animal would be found in the home of the richest man in the village.

After a spell in a monastery in his late 20s, he claimed that by sleeping with women he could take on their sins and thus help them find the ‘grace of God’.

‘I don’t degrade you, I purify you,’ he told his female followers as he led them in energetic dances around incense-fragranced fires in nearby forests, after which he would purportedly ‘rejoice’ with each of them.

With mesmeric eyes and an ability to contract and expand his pupils at will, he had plenty of willing disciples, despite his poor personal hygiene.

Every spring he set off on treks to various holy places and boasted of the privations he suffered en route, once claiming he had gone six months without changing his underwear.

One man who encountered him remarked that he smelled like a goat. Others talked of his foul breath and ‘teeth like blackened stumps’.

This did not deter the groups of young women he frequently brought back from his travels. These acolytes were given distinctly unholy nicknames such as ‘Hot Stuff’, ‘Boss Lady’ and ‘Sexy Girl’.

Remarkably, his liaisons with them were tolerated by his wife, Praskovia, who, three years his senior, had married him when he was 18 and remained loyal to him to the end.

‘He has enough for all,’ she once remarked cryptically, referring perhaps to the legendary size of Rasputin’s endowment.


Many could attest to that, including the two sisters, aged 15 and 20, who were invited to join him at a bath-house in the city of Kiev for a session of ‘rejoicing’.

When he was accosted by their outraged mother, he told her that she should feel at peace. ‘The Day of Salvation has dawned for your two daughters,’ he announced grandly.

He won favour in imperial circles when rumours of his powers reached the Grand Duchess Militza, a gullible woman who had introduced many ‘Holy Men’ to her cousin, the Tsarina. These included a French butcher and ‘mystic’ named Monsieur Philippe who claimed that he could make people invisible.

At a church service in 1903, Rasputin publicly declared the Tsarina would be delivered of a much-longed for male heir within a year and, following the arrival of the Tsarevich Alexei in August 1904, the Grand Duchess arranged for him to meet the proud parents on the first of many subsequent visits to the imperial palace.

A reverence for peasants was fashionable among the Russian aristocracy at that time, and Rasputin’s life‑long illiteracy and habit of eating with his fingers went down well with ‘Papa’ and ‘Mama’, as he took it upon himself to call them. So did what appeared to be a remarkable sixth sense.

Legend has it that on one occasion, Rasputin was talking to the Tsarina about providence when he suddenly interrupted himself, shouting: ‘He’s in the blue room!’

They ran to the palace’s blue billiard room where Rasputin scooped Tsarevich Alexei up just before a falling chandelier landed exactly where he had been standing.

Above all, however, the Tsarina was enslaved by the ‘healing power’ of Rasputin’s prayers.

As it became apparent that her beloved son had haemophilia, the hereditary condition which affects the blood’s ability to clot, he seemed to be the only person who could stop the flow whenever Alexei injured himself.

It has since been suggested that his secret lay in an ability to calm the Tsarevich, lowering his blood pressure and thus easing the bleeding. Or it might have been his distaste for the new wonder-drug aspirin, dished out by the Russian court doctors for pain relief and only discovered in later years to be an anti-coagulant which would have worsened the bleeding considerably.

Whatever lay behind the cures, the Tsarina’s faith in Rasputin was unwavering and his name became known the length and breadth of Russia.

While his wife remained at home in Pokrovskoye, he took a flat in St Petersburg, where the streets outside became crowded with his followers, the so-called ‘Rasputinki’.

Up to 400 of them at a time were known to gather before sunrise, waiting as long as three days to see him.

These devotees came in search of miracle cures or keepsakes, including Rasputin’s fingernail clippings. These were much prized, despite one St Petersburg restaurant manager testifying that the Man of God’s hands were ‘grimy, with bitten, blackened nails’.

Since it was known that he had the ears of the ‘Tsars’, as he called them, favour-seekers would file through the lobby, bearing lavish gifts of wine, carpets and even huge fish. Floral tributes were a favourite: ‘Idiots bring fresh flowers every day. They know I love them,’ he swaggered ungraciously.

Those deemed attractive enough to become one of his ‘little ladies’ would, like Sister Maria, be invited to join him in his study. That contained a sofa so over-used that its back eventually gave way.

Reports of such excesses soon spread through Petersburg and those outside the city had other damning tales. At one monastery, the nuns claimed that Rasputin had been conducting orgies and bathing with novices.

Soon his life was being threatened by outraged clerics, including an unhinged monk called Iliodor whose zeal was such that at one point he had accrued 120 bombs with which to dispatch him.

He never deployed them, opting instead to brandish an axe at Rasputin and threaten to castrate him.

In a similar vein, a crazed dwarf Holy Man named Blessed Mitya first punched ‘the true Christ’, as the Tsar apparently called him, and then attempted to pull off his manhood.

Rasputin survived such assaults, but in the years leading up to his death, there was ever more anger about his growing influence at court.

By claiming divine guidance, he could persuade the Tsarina to do almost anything and this also gave him great influence over the Tsar, a colourless and indecisive man who generally went along with his highly-strung wife’s wishes.

‘Better one Rasputin than ten fits of hysterics a day,’ he would say.

One of those he worked against was the Tsar’s uncle, the Grand Duke Nicholas, who was hugely distrustful of Rasputin and had once threatened to hang him. In 1915, Rasputin urged the Tsar to remove the Grand Duke from command of the country’s million-strong army and this he agreed to do, even though the country was then engaged in World War I.

Rasputin was also said to be exploiting that war to his own financial advantage, charging 2,000 roubles a time (roughly £200 today) for keeping a soldier from the Front

Other gossip accused him of sleeping with the Tsarina. This was unlikely since she was a woman of such modesty that she assiduously covered the lavatory and bath when they were not in use. But Rasputin inadvertently encouraged the rumours during a drunken dinner at a restaurant in Moscow.

On this occasion, his customary bragging about his place in the imperial couple’s affections culminated in him roaring that ‘the old girl’ had slept with him. When diners at another table asked if he was really Rasputin, he dropped his trousers and waved his most famous feature at them, all the while distributing notes saying ‘Love unselfishly’.

Still the Tsarina refused to hear a word against him, preferring to believe that an imposter was posing as Rasputin and misbehaving in public to blacken his name.

This fuelled suspicion that the German-born Tsarina was working with Rasputin to sabotage the Russian war effort.

Indeed, it has been alleged that the bullet said to have killed Rasputin was fired by a British secret service agent, amid concerns he was lobbying for the Russians to make a separate peace with the Tsarina’s homeland.

The agent most frequently referred to as the assassin was Oswald Rayner, who was at Princess Irina’s palace on the morning after Rasputin’s murder and for the next 24 hours.

He had been at Oxford with her husband, Prince Felix Yussoupov, and the idea he could have killed Rasputin is not so outlandish. But Yussoupov had his own reasons for wanting Rasputin dead.

In June 1915, mobs gathered in Moscow’s Red Square calling for Rasputin to be hanged. The governor of the city was Prince Yussoupov’s father, ‘Papa Felix’, and when he complained to the Tsar about the unrest Rasputin was causing, he was sacked on the spot.

The wealthy Yussoupovs were a dangerous family to alienate, and Yussoupov spared no expense in preparing an elaborate trap with which to exact revenge on Rasputin the following year.

Then 29, the Prince was bisexual and not averse to what he called ‘love affairs of a special kind’ even after marrying Princess Irina, an acknowledged beauty, in 1914.

Pretending that he wanted Rasputin’s help in ridding himself of such desires, he drew him still closer by suggesting he should come to the palace late one night for a rendezvous with his wife.

Rasputin was shown into a room in the palace’s basement, safely out of earshot of potential witnesses.

Befuddled by the Madeira he had drunk earlier that day, he was told that the Princess was upstairs and that he could meet her as soon as Yussoupov and his three friends had left. In fact, she was far away in the Crimea.

The conspirators intended to poison Rasputin while he waited for the liaison. But no matter how much cyanide-laced wine and food they plied him with, he showed no ill-effects. Suspecting their victim was being protected by supernatural powers, they shot him.

Even then, after a few hours, he seemed to come miraculously back to life and managed to escape. As he ran across the palace yard, however, he was shot again — though nobody could later agree about who fired the bullet. Even then, one account suggests he was still alive when they inspected his body the next morning.

‘Turning his face up, he groaned and it seemed he rolled his right eye which fixed me, dazed but terrible,’ claimed Vladimir Purishkevich, a politician who was part of the plot.
At the museum in his home village, it’s said men can be cured of impotence simply by sitting on his wooden chair.


Rasputin certainly should have been dead by then. Yussoupov had launched a ferocious attack with a cudgel, beating him so thoroughly and viciously that even his testicles were crushed. His body was found two days later when a sleeve of his fur coat was spotted protruding from the ice on a nearby river.

When the Prince was subsequently implicated in his murder, the Tsar exiled him to one of the Yussoupov family’s far-flung estates, but he dared not punish him further for fear of revolt. Hailed as a hero, the Prince survived the Revolution, and he and Princess Irina lived out their years in the South of France.

The imperial family were not so fortunate, of course, and when they were shot and bayoneted to death by the Bolsheviks in July 1918, their murderers discovered lockets around the necks of the Tsarina and her four young daughters. Each contained a picture of Rasputin.

Others seem to have sought out rather grislier reminders of the mystic-turned-martyr.

An exhibition of erotica at a museum in St Petersburg claimed to be in possession of his pickled private parts, while at the museum in his home village, it’s said men can be cured of impotence simply by sitting on his clumpy wooden chair.

So faith in Rasputin’s healing powers persists even a century after the passion for women which so dominated his life eventually tempted him to his death.


Adapted from “Rasputin: A Short Life” by Frances Welch, to be published this week by Short Books at £12.99. © 2014 Frances Welch.



Darling Rasputin:
elegrams that reveal Tsarina’s love affair with the Mad Monk
By Nigel Reynolds, Arts Correspondent


(Telegraph [UK] March 14, 2000) – The discovery of a 500-page secret file on Rasputin, compiled by the Bolsheviks soon after his murder in 1916 but missing ever since, has cast new light on the myths, sexual conquests and power at the Romanov court of the licentious “prophet”.

Coupled with long-lost photographs, the documents make it appear more likely than ever that Rasputin, a semi-literate peasant, did have an affair with Tsarina Alexandra, the wife of Tsar Nicholas II. The file contains intimate telegrams in which she calls Rasputin “darling”.

One telegram from her to him dated Dec 7, 1914, says: “Today I shall be back in eight days. I sacrifice my husband and my heart to you. Pray and bless. Love and kisses – darling.” Another, two years later, sent only a fortnight before Rasputin’s murder by a nobleman angry at his influence at court, reads: “You have not written anything. I have missed you terribly. Come soon. Pray for Nicholas [her husband]. Kisses – darling.”

The papers also name many of the “Mad Monk’s” mistresses and provide fresh details of his political influence over the Tsar – including influencing senior appointments and how he persuaded the Tsar to delay mobilizing the army against Germany for 24 hours. The huge file contains the testimonies of dozens of friends, who were interrogated about his role at court by the Bolsheviks, anxious to discredit the imperial family after the revolution in 1917.

Lost for more than 80 years, it will be made public in London on Thursday by Mstislav Rostropovich, the Russian émigré cellist and conductor. He acquired the papers, apparently by chance, at auction five years ago. His file forms the backbone of Rasputin: The Last Word, a new biography by the Russian historian and playwright Edward Radzinsky, also published on Thursday.

The biography includes two photographs, never seen before, of Rasputin’s body after it was retrieved from the Neva at St Petersburg, into which he had been thrown, bound, while still alive. Radzinsky says he retrieved the pictures from a long-forgotten police archive. With his arms outstretched, Radzinsky says the pictures indicate that Rasputin was desperately trying to untie his bonds. The biographer uses this evidence to construct a new theory about Rasputin’s murder.

It demonstrates, he says, that the stories spread by the Bolsheviks that Rasputin had almost supernatural powers were just a myth to discredit him and the Romanovs who were in his thrall. Radzinsky also claims that testimonies from the file show that Rasputin’s principal assassin, a scion of Russia’s richest family, the Yusopovs, may have deliberately fluffed the murder because he was a bisexual and had fallen in love with the monk.

The biography also presents the first known authentic photograph – also from police files – of Rasputin and the Tsarina with her children. Rumours of a sexual relationship between the two were rife in pre-revolutionary Russia, but always denied by her close friends. But Radzinsky says he believes that he has come as close as possible to proving that Queen Victoria’s ill-fated granddaughter was in love with and had a sexual affair with the lascivious “mystic”.

Born Grigory Efemovich in Siberia at around 1869 – he acquired the name Rasputin, meaning “debauched one”, later – the monk remains one of the most maligned but enigmatic figures in modern history. He joined a cult that believed spirituality could be attained only through sexual exhaustion.

He arrived at the Russian court in 1908 and was immediately taken up by the imperial family because he appeared to have healing powers that eased the haemophiliac attacks of their son, the Tsaravich Nikolai. His sexual philandering has always been widely known but Radzinsky claims that long-lost testimonies – many of them handwritten by those questioned – from interviews conducted by the post-revolution Commission of Inquiry for the Investigation of Illegal Acts by Ministers and Other Responsible Persons of the Tsarist Regime now disclose their names and confirm Rasputin’s reputation.

The file also contains previously unknown reports by agents hired by the Tsarist ministry of the interior to spy on Rasputin. One report reads: “Rasputin . . . would accost women with vile suggestions.” Another agent observed him hiring three prostitutes in one day.

The commission published a report based on the interrogations but for many years afterwards it was said that it was distorted to blacken Rasputin – one of the interrogators himself even resigned, complaining of bias – as part of a propaganda campaign against the imperial court. More recently, pro-monarchists in Russia have attempted to rehabilitate Rasputin to restore credibility in the court.

“The discovery of the testimonies show that Rasputin was as terrible as he appeared at the time,” said Ion Trewin, the editorial director of Weidenfeld and Nicolson, the publishers of the biography. “I’m afraid that they will bring little comfort to the new pro-monarchist movement. The Empress’s telegrams don’t prove that they slept together but they go as near as it will probably ever be possible to prove that they did. They are quite astonishing evidence of the attraction that she felt for him and go a long way to explaining his power over her.”

The papers shed important light on Rasputin’s murder, organised by Prince Felix Yusopov, on Dec 16, 1916. He and his two conspirators maintained later that they had first poisoned, then shot, then clubbed Rasputin before throwing his body under the ice in the Neva. Radzinsky claims that the murderers put around this story of the almost indestructible Rasputin to cover up their own ineptitude and to further the myth of the dangerous and supernatural “monk” holding Russia in his power.

The biographer says the testimonies of others now show that the poisoning attempt at the Yusopov Palace was not serious. Prince Felix was infatuated with Rasputin and “diluted” a glass of wine containing cyanide to the point where it was ineffectual. The prince then shot several times at Rasputin but he suffered only one minor wound to the body and it was left to one or two other conspirators to bring him down as he tried to escape.

The new testimonies give conflicting evidence on who these were. Some confirm the long-standing story that another nobleman, Vladimir Purishkevich, had shot Rasputin. Others suggest a new name – Grand Duke Dimitry Palovich, a marksman who, officially at least, was not present. But some witnesses claim to have seen him, and Radzinsky believes there was a cover-up because the Grand Duke was a successor if the Tsar was deposed.

The last mystery may be solved later this week. How did Rostropovich, a collector of Romanov memorabilia who was forced to leave the Soviet Union in the Seventies, discover the file? Mr Trewin said: “When he heard Edward was writing the book, Rostropovich offered him the file, saying, ‘I have the great prize you have been looking for’.”

“He said he had bought it at a Sotheby’s auction somewhere on the Continent in 1995. We have tried to track this down but Sotheby’s seems to have no record of it. We know it is genuine. Edward has cross-checked the handwriting and he used a Moscow telephone directory for 1914 to check the identities of the witnesses.

“It may be that Sotheby’s didn’t catalogue it properly or Rostropovich found it among some other papers he bought. We just don’t know and we hope he will tell us on Thursday.”



Czar Nicholas II and family.
Czar Nicholas II and family.
Tsarina Alexandra and her son, Tsarevich Alexei.
Tsarina Alexandra and her son, Tsarevich Alexei.
Bad smell: One person who encountered him said Rasputin smelled a little like a goat.

I remember the time when I was in Moscow and I had visited one of their huge

Salvation: Often nicknamed the Mad Monk, Rasputin said he was 'purifying' women by sleeping with them.
Salvation: Often nicknamed the Mad Monk, Rasputin said he was ‘purifying’ women by sleeping with them.
Icon: The peasant and mystic has become a cult figure in popular culture, and was immortalised by Tom Baker in the 1971 film Nicholas and Alexandra (with Janet Suzman, left.)
Icon: The peasant and mystic has become a cult figure in popular culture, and was immortalised by Tom Baker in the 1971 film Nicholas and Alexandra (with Janet Suzman, left.)
Christ-like: One myth said Rasputin could enlarge or contract his own pupils at will.
Christ-like: One myth said Rasputin could enlarge or contract his own pupils at will.
Powerful: But his alliance with Tsar Nicholas II (pictured) drew jealousy from Rasputin's enemies.
Powerful: But his alliance with Tsar Nicholas II (pictured) drew jealousy from Rasputin’s enemies.
Rasputin's luck could not last forever - in June 1915, mobs in Red Square (pictured) demanded his hanging.
Rasputin’s luck could not last forever – in June 1915, mobs in Red Square (pictured) demanded his hanging.
Conspiracy theories abound about the murder of Rasputin.
Conspiracy theories abound about the murder of Rasputin.

department/book stores. I recall asking the saleswoman there if they had any copies concerning the life and times of Rasputin. She gave me rather a strange look and I realized belatedly that the lady was deeply ashamed of the notoriety and debauchery surrounding this “mad monk” in the annals of Russian history. As it happened, I never did find any literature concerning Rasputin in St. Petersburg either. Perhaps, I should never have asked for such a book while I was visiting Russia – when I now think back about it. I did find plenty of information on the internet, concerning the same subject, however.


I write this blog, not so much to underline the basic notoriety and debauchery surrounding this enigmatic monk, but rather as a continuation of my two previous blogs that explore the depths of a manipulative mindset.



Read this blog carefully and pick out for yourself the many instances where Rasputin made use of other people, including the Royalty, to further his own devious ends.



Manipulation has had an early birth in the history of mankind and its death is nowhere imminent. Sad – but nevertheless true!

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