The czar’s son survived and fled to Baku (according to Radzinsky)

Nikolaj II with the czarevich
Nikolaj II with the czarevich

This article was originally published on

haqqin.az.


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One Russian literary genre, “unknown facts about the well – known”, offers


readers new and sometimes sensational information about well – established facts. I first came across this style while still in school, when a book describing a few days in the life of the great poet Lermontov fell into my hands. The book belonged to my grandfather, Robert Samedov, and had been given to him in the Qusar District of present day Azerbaijan.

Historian Edvard Radzinsky
Historian Edvard Radzinsky


Around the same time, I got my hands on another book – a popular history by Edvard Radzinsky about the last days of the family of the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II. It was here that I was first acquainted with an alternative version of the story surrounding the execution of the Romanov family in the Ipatiev House (located in modern Yekaterinburg),


which suggests that it was not Princess Anastasia who managed to escape…

Edvard Radzinsky, drawing on archival documents, argued that it was instead Prince Alexei who escaped tragedy on the night of the 16th and 17th of July, 1918.

Moreover, according to Radzinsky, Prince Alexei not only survived, but went on to study economics in no place other than our very own Baku.

Considering the prevailing general interest towards the events of those days, I decided to reread Edvard Radzinsky’s book, “The Last Tsar: The Life and Death of Nicholas II”, and write this article. So now for some unknown facts about the well – known: here’s the story of how Prince Alexei allegedly ended up in Baku, according to Edvard Radzinsky.

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To begin with, it’s worth mentioning that the fantastic version of Prince Alexei’s survival was played up for decades by historians and journalists alike.

In 2007, Russian newspaper “Arguments and Facts” ran a sensational story called “The Prince – a Red Army soldier?”, which also presented a hypothesis of the miraculous rescue of two of Nicholas II’s children: Princess Anastasia and Prince Alexei.

Nikolaj II with the czarevich
Nikolaj II with the czarevich

Here is a short excerpt from that article: “The boy turned to face his father, stood with his back to the squad and did not see the shooting. A bullet hit him in the backside, he fell and lost a lot of blood, but survived (his hemophilia turned out to be cured, as evidenced by footage of the famous newsreel where Nicholas II and his son are cutting a log with a two-handed saw; had the illness not been cured, the loving father would not have let his son take up a saw for anything.”

The wounded went to the monks of the closest monastery. When Alexei recovered, he was transferred to St. Petersburg and assigned to the house of the famous architect, Alexander Pomerantsev. Here he was given the name Count Vladimir Irin (according to one version, this surname was chosen because it is an acronym in the Russian language for “the name of Romanov is the name of the people”). Accidentally overhearing that his host planned on turning the true monarch into a counter revolutionary symbol, the Prince fled.

There was nowhere to go, so the young man made his way to an address written on posters calling for people to enlist in the Red Army. In this way, Vladimir Irin found himself first in Balaklava in the school for Red Army commanders, then in the First Cavalry Army of Commander Semyon Budyonnyj. He fought alongside Denikin in Crimea, near Warsaw, and ended his involvement in the Civil War in Central Asia, fighting against the Basmachi movement. Marshal Kliment Voroshilov himself signed a certificate of bravery awarded to Captain Irin.

After graduating from Plekhanov Russian University of Economics and becoming an economist, Alexei made plans to cover his tracks, buying silence from one of his former rescuers along the way.

Then the Prince married, acquired the documents of his wife’s dead relatives and became Philip Grigorievich Semyonov. His old life seemed long gone. Then one day, a blackmailer (the Prince suspected it to be Alexander Beloborodov), turned up on the Prince’s doorstep, and the blackmailer threatened to expose and murder not only the “oppressor of the people”, but his wife and children as well. It was necessary to buy him off with government funds.

Later, for economic crimes, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In 1941, he was sent to a concentration camp called Medvezhegorsk. After a mental breakdown, he was placed in the Petrozavodsk psychiatric hospital. Here the patient, with noble appearance and excellent manners, became such good friends with two female doctors that he decided to trust them with his secret.

After years of searching, Edvard Radzinsky also came across a similar story and outlined it in his book. One day, the historian received a strange letter from psychiatrist D. Kaufman of Petrozavodsk:

“There’s talk of a man who was treated for some time at the psychiatric hospital of Petrozavodsk, where I worked as an intern after graduating from the Second Leningrad Medical Institute from September 1946 to October 1949. The hospital’s patients were both civilians and prisoners who were sent to us in those years for treatment or psychiatric examination… “, stated the letter.

The doctor related that in the winter of 1947 or 1948, another patient, also a prisoner, came to him. He was in a state of acute psychosis, suffering from hysterical psychogenic reactions.

“His mind was not clear, he wasn’t oriented to his surroundings, couldn’t understand where he was…He was brandishing his arms, trying to run…In rambling speeches along with a mass of other expressive exclamations, he mentioned the name Beloborodov two or three times (the same blackmailer), to which we didn’t pay any attention in the beginning because we didn’t know what he was talking about. His documents said he was born in 1904, and gave his name and surname, but I can’t remember them exactly. The options I can think of are Philippe Semyon Grigoryevich or Semyon Philippe” said the letter, which Radzinsky published in his book.

“As is usual in such cases, the manifestation of his acute psychosis completely disappeared after one to three days. The patient became calm and quite sociable. For the rest of his time in the psychiatric hospital, he was clear minded and well behaved. His appearance, as far as I can relate, was such: fairly tall, large, with sloping shoulders and a bent back…. He had a long face, slightly prominent blue or grey eyes, brown hair streaked with grey, heading toward baldness…”

Later in the letter, Dr. Kaufman told how the patient came to him in confidence and began his story, which many wrote off as paranoia.

“And so, we found out that he was heir to the crown, that during the rushed execution in Yekaterinburg his father had pressed his face to him so that he would not see the gun barrels. In my opinion, he didn’t even have time to comprehend that something terrible was happening, as the sound of the shooting was very sudden, and he hadn’t heard the reading of the sentence. He only registered the name of Beloborodov.”

The shots fired, he was hit in the backside, lost consciousness, and fell onto the pile of bodies. When he came to, it appeared that that he had had been rescued, carried from the basement, and tended to by some unknown person.”

The story of his life followed, as well as the absurd set of circumstances that led him to the camp. The most interesting part came at the end of Kaufman’s letter:

“Gradually, we started to look at him with different eyes. The persistent hematuria from which he suffered, found an explanation. The heir had hemophilia. On his backside the patient had a old cross-shaped scar… Finally we understood, who the patient’s appearance reminded us of – well known portraits of Nicholas II, not only the second but the first as well. And not in a hussar’s uniform, but in a quilted jacket with stripped pyjama pants over boots. At that time every month and a half or two months a consultant visited us from Leningrad… Then we consulted C. I. Gengelevich, the best practicing psychiatrist I’ve encountered in my lifetime. Naturally, we presented the patient to him… for two or three hours he grilled him on questions that we had not the knowledge to ask, and on which he seemed competent. For example, the consultant knew the layout of the Winter Palace and the uses of its chambers in the beginning of the century. He knew the names and titles of all the members of the tsar’s family, as well as the dynasty’s extended network, court positions, etc.

The consultant also knew the protocols of all ceremonies and rites that took place in the palace, the dates of different saint’s days and other festivities observed in the Romanov family circle. The patient answered all of the questions exactly right and without the slightest hesitation. For him it was as elementary as the reciting the ABC’s.

From several answers it was evident that he had a wider understanding of this sphere… He carried himself with his customary calmness and dignity. Then the consultant asked the women to leave and examined the patient below the waist, front and back. When we came back in the room, (the patient had been released), the consultant was obviously bewildered – it turned out that the patient had cryptorchidism (one undescended testicle) which the consultant knew to be true also of the deceased heir Alexei” said the letter.

As a result, the hospital staff were faced with the question of whether to diagnose his illness as “paranoia” in regression, or to declare the case unsettled. In that case, a commission from the NKVD would come from Moscow to take the patient to an unknown location. The doctors chose the first option and identified the newfound prince as paranoid.

In his book, Edvard Radzinsky writes that he followed the trail of Prince Alexei’s survival for a long while, but could not find any evidence that would completely refute the hypothesis. There are still many clouded areas in the story of the Romanov execution, giving rise to many legends.

One of these – that Prince Alexei was a student at the Economic Institute in Baku…

Ana səhifəNewsThe czar’s son survived and fled to Baku (according to Radzinsky)