Russian Supreme Court appeals panel’s declaration on October 4, 2008 that the last Czar and his murdered family were victims of political repression, is being considered a decision important like that of dethroned Afghan King Zahir Shah’s return to Kabul and rehabilitation. The decision ends years of efforts by Czar Nicholas II`s descendants to get authorities to reclassify the killings which had long been considered simply murder.
Prosecutors and lower courts had repeatedly rejected the appeals, saying the royal Romanov family was murdered, not executed for political reasons. However, Pavel Odintsov, a spokesman for the court, said a court panel accepted the appeals of the Romanov descendants to "rehabilitate" them.
Nicholas II abdicated in 1917 as revolutionary fervour swept Russia, and he and his family were detained. The Czar, his wife Alexandra and their son and four daughters were fatally shot on July 17, 1918 in a basement room of a merchant`s house where they were held in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg.
The Romanovs` descendants had for years insisted that Czar Nicholas II, his wife and their four daughters and son be classified as the victims of an unlawful State-sponsored execution. But Russian prosecutors and lower courts had repeatedly turned down their appeals, saying the Romanovs had never faced any formal charges before being shot dead in a basement of a merchant`s house in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.
The remains of Nicholas II and his family members were found in 1991 and were reburied with full state honours in 1998 on the orders of the then President Boris Yeltsin in St Petersburg by the side of the Romanov dynasty.
The Russian Orthodox Church has already canonised the Czar, his wife Alexandra and their four daughters and crown prince in 2000. In Russia, `exoneration` has immense significance as it recognises that a person was a victim of political repression by the country`s Communist-era authorities. Many people, who were killed or sent to prison during this period have been exonerated of the charges that they were accused of by the Soviet authorities.
These efforts are in line with the efforts of rehabilitation of Prince Norodom Sihanouk and some others associated some time with the empirical order in an era of democracy. The questions are: Is former Iranian Prince living in exile too waiting for rehabilitation in Iran if the post-1979 Islamic Revolution people go out of power any time? Are the descendants of the last Turkish Khalifa ousted in early 1920s also hoping for rehabilitation of the Khalifa in case the Kemalist influence declines in the country?