Rasputin was this Russian monk who, having been introduced to the last emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, proved to be the only one capable of calming the terrible haemophiliac episodes of the heir Grand-Duke, the young Alexis.
This allowed him to gain absolute control over the parents of the unfortunate child, to the point that all Russian politic, even the fate of the Empire, depended on him. Obviously, he was hated, hated by all and considered as the deus ex machina that plunged the Empire and the Monarchy into the abyss.
Rasputin is an incomprehensible mix for the West, so typically Russian, so typically Oriental. On one side, a profoundly, sincerely mystic being who possessed an undeniable Gift, as both a healer and a seer. On the other side, a depraved man, indulging in all pleasures, a drunkard and a sexual predator.
Even if the selection of ministers he imposed on the imperial coupled turned out to be disastrous, one must admit that his predictions were surprisingly accurate. He vehemently opposed Russia joining World War I. Unfortunately, when Nicholas II was dragged into the conflict he was far away, in a hospital, recovering from a bullet wound fired by a nun who he had, if I recall, raped.
Relentlessly, he advocated that Russia had to get out of the conflict at all costs if it wanted to survive, unsurprisingly attracting the wrath of the Allies. Likewise, he made this strange prediction: he would be murdered by boyars and his passing would lead to a revolution that would spill streams of blood and annihilate the Empire and the dynasty.
Of course, besides the emperor and the empress, the Imperial Family hated the perverted monk. However, my grandmother Olga, born Russian Grand-Duchess, was one of the few admitted in the intimacy of the imperial couple, for, as the empress repeatedly expressed, she was the only one to show kindness towards her.
As a result, the youngest son of my grandmother, which she considered to be the “Russian” one of the family, that is to say my father, would accompany her on her visits to the emperor and the empress. And thus he witnessed a strange scene. He was playing with the imperial children – he was the same age as Anastasia – when one day Rasputin rushed into the playroom, picked up the heir into his arms and almost threw him against the wall. At the very same moment, the enormous chandelier under which Alexis was playing crashed to the ground, and would have inevitably killed the child had Rasputin not intervened.
At the end of 1916, Prince Yupusov – the richest young lord of Russia, married to an imperial princess – formed a plot to kill the accursed monk. He was invited to the Yupusov palace, he made his way there one night. Yupusov started by offering him a glass of Porto rife with cyanide. Rasputin drank it like it was nothing. A little later, Yupusov, not knowing what to do, shot at him a couple of times. Rasputin collapsed, bleeding. Yupusov rushed upstairs to inform his accomplices that the work was done and came back down. As he drew nearer to Rasputin, the monk got up and clung onto him. Yupusov became hysterical.
Rasputin managed to escape onto the street. Bloodied, he walked along the snowy road towards the canal. Yupusov’s accomplices followed him, repeatedly shooting at him. Finally, Rasputin fell into the canal at the end of the street. The autopsy revealed that he was not dead from his wounds but drowned by the waters of the canal.
Yupusov, in his memoirs, recalls in details this farcical scene. His accomplices, including my first cousin the Grand Duke Dimitri, who had all sworn to never reveal anything, never forgave him for recounting everything. But in truth, we only have his version. All the police files concerning the case disappeared, and Yupusov’s accomplices, true to their promise, never spoke.
It is obvious that Rasputin was murdered on that night at the Yupusov Palace, but how, by whom? How many accomplices were at Yupusov palace that evening? To this day, no one knows.
I met, about a decade ago, at Taxco in Mexico, the last confidant of Prince Yusupov, a Mexican sculptor. He disclosed two elements. After Yupusov published his story, the doctor who had provided him with cyanide to poison Rasputin wrote to him that, at the last moment, remembering the Hippocratic Oath each doctor must swear, he had not been able to bring himself to give him the poison and had instead given him a harmless liquid.
I asked the Prince’s confidant how it was possible that Rasputin, with his gift as a seer, had not foreseen his fate at the Yupusov Palace, and, more importantly, had not been able to avoid the trap laid out for him. His response was strange: “Between Rasputin and Prince Yupusov, it was a duel of psychic powers, of who would dominate the other. In this case, it was the prince who bested him. With his psychic power, he blinded Rasputin to the point that the man never guessed what awaited him at the Yupusov Palace. He went there in all innocence. “
A few months after, as the deceased had predicted, the Revolution broke out, toppling the Empire and the Imperial Family.