Russian authorities have exhumed the tomb of Alexander III, the 19th century Russian czar, in an attempt to confirm the authenticity of his ancestor’s remains.
The request for exhumation came from the Russian Orthodox Church, who want to confirm the DNA records for Nicholas II, Alexander III’s son, as well as his wife and their five children.
Bolshevik forces executed the whole family in 1918 but it wasn’t until 1991 that their supposed burial place was uncovered in a forest near Yekaterinburg.
Not everyone is happy about the plan. Historian Yevgeny Pchelov told NPR, “It’s a cultural monument, it’s the grave of an emperor, and to disturb the burial just to make sure, I think, is not quire justified.”
In September, investigators exhumed the remains of Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra as part of the same investigation.
Alexander III’s reign was hard and unsympathetic. After unexpectedly coming to the throne after his father, Alexander II, was assassinated, he led a regime based on repressing opponents, removing the reforms of his father and restoring Russia’s global power.
When Alexander III died from kidney failure, his son Nicholas II took up the throne. Little did Nicholas know, he would be Russia’s last czar under Romanov rule.
His ineffective handling of Bloody Sunday and Russia’s role in World War I led to his abdication and execution, along with the rest of his family.