Grave of Russia`s banished Czar found

An research group has claimed to have unearthed the grave of Russia`s infant Czar Ivan VI.

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2010, 09:13 AM IST

Moscow: An amateur research group has
claimed to have unearthed the grave of Russia`s infant Czar
Ivan VI, who was ousted in 18th century and spent most of his
life in solitary confinement in oblivion till he was killed at
the age of 23 by prison guards.

"During excavations in Kholmogory (north Russia), we
managed to find the remains of Russian infant Emperor Ivan VI Antonovich. Up until this moment, his burial site remained
unknown," the head of the amateur research and excavation
team, businessman Anatoly Karanin announced at a news
conference here yesterday.

Ivan VI remains the only Russian emperor whose place of
burial has not been established. He was proclaimed Emperor of
Russia in 1740 at the age of two months and five days, and
overthrown during a coup d`etat a year later to make way for
Peter-the -Grate`s daughter Elisaveta Petrovna.

At the age of four, he was isolated from his parents and
kept in solitary confinement in the town of Kholmogory in the
White Sea costal area in Russia`s remote north.

In 1756, the deposed Czar was transferred to the
Shlisselburg Fortress near St Petersburg, where he was
anonymously kept and known as "a certain prisoner".

He was stabbed to death by prison guards at the age of
23, when a group of loyalists hatched a conspiracy to free
him.

Karanin said the discovery was made in 2008, when his
group opened a tomb which was initially thought to be that of
Ivan VI`s father, Duke Anthony Ulrich of Brunswick.

"I immediately understood that it were not the remains of
60-year-old Ulrich of Brunswick, but of a young man," Karanin
said.

"The huge hexagon-shaped coffin made of very thick wood
showed that it was a `transport burial,`" which means that the
body was brought from a far of place," he added.

Kholmogory is more than 1,000 km away from Shlisselburg
Fortress, where the banished Czar was confined.

Karanin said a forensic examination of the remains
indicate high probability that they remains belonged to Ivan
VI.

The skeleton belonged to a man who died at the age of
around 25, and the grave was at least 200 years old.

The marks of injuries on the skeleton also points to this
"This all proves that the remains may belong to Ivan
Antonovich. We are 100 per cent sure of that," Karanin said.

However, a detailed DNA analysis would be required, for
which Russia would have to approach Denmark, where all of Ivan
VI`s siblings are buried.

Some Russian historical experts have already expressed
doubts about the report, saying that the amateur group lacked
both official permission and expertise for archaeological
excavations at the site.

However, the Russian Science Academy has cautioned
against haste in jumping to conclusions, as the find would
require editing the Russian history.

PTI