Russian Supreme Court refuses to rehabilitate Tsar

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MOSCOW, Nov 8 (Reuters) Russia's Supreme Court rejected an appeal from monarchists today to rehabilitate the country's last Tsar, saying Nicholas II, executed in 1918 along with his family, was never formally charged.

Bolshevik revolutionaries shot Nicholas, his wife and their five children without trial in a cellar in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg to prevent them falling into the hands of advancing counter-revolutionary forces.

Attempts by Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, a claimant to the Russian imperial throne, to win legal rehabilitation for Nicholas and his family in lower courts have already failed.

Maria Vladimirovna had argued the imperial family should be treated in the same way as victims of Russia's political purges, most of whom received official posthumous pardons.

German Lukyanov, the monarchists' lawyer, said his clients would appeal to the Presidium of the Supreme Court, Russia's final legal instance, and if necessary to the European Court of Human Rights.

Judging by the Supreme Court's ruling, ''the tsar's family were not victims of political repression and their rights were not violated,'' he said.

Russian prosecutors say the execution of the Tsar and his family was premeditated murder, albeit with political motives, so they cannot be rehabilitated because they were never formally sentenced.

The Russian Orthodox Church has canonised Nicholas II and his Romanov family as martyrs and has built a church over the site of their execution.

Prosecutor Inessa Kovalevskaya said at today's hearing that a five-year investigation into the deaths of the imperial family had not turned up any court orders on their shooting.

''Letters and memoirs of eyewitnesses cannot be a substitute for evidence,'' she said. ''The Romanov family cannot be rehabilitated because the definition of rehabilitation is being cleared of an accusation and they were not accused of anything.'' Maria Vladimirovna lives in Spain but regards herself as the lawful heir to the Romanov imperial throne. Not all Russian monarchists accept her claim and there is scant support among ordinary Russians for restoring the monarchy.

Reuters MS KP1903

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