"The Identification of the Romanovs: Can we (finally) put the controversies to rest?"


Michael D. Coble, PhD

Formerly, Chief of Research, The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory


For much of the 20th century the fate of the last Imperial family of Russia, the Romanovs, was a mystery after their execution in 1918. In the mid 1970s the mass grave of the Romanov family (minus two of the children) was discovered and officially exhumed after the fall of the Soviet Union. Forensic DNA testing of the remains in the early 1990s was used to identify the family. Despite the overwhelming evidence for establishing the identity of the Romanov family, a small but vocal number of scientists have tried to raise doubt about the DNA testing during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

With the discovery of the two missing Romanov children in 2007, there was an opportunity to re-analyze all of the evidence associated with the case which confirmed the initial DNA testing and brought finality to the mystery. This article will discuss the controversies associated with the Romanov identification and reflect upon the importance of the case to the field of forensic DNA typing over the last 20 years.

На протяжении большей части 20-го века посмертная судьба последнего российского Императора  Николая II и членов Его семьи после их убийства в 1918 году, была тайной.     В 1979 году захоронение семьи Романовых было обнаружено и в 1991 году - полностью вскрыто (уже официально). Отсутствовали останки двух детей.   С 1991 г. по 1998 г. было проведено множество антропологических, медико-криминалистических и генетических экспертиз.     Несмотря на неопровержимые  доказательства идентичности семьи Романовых и её верноподданных, небольшое число учёных до сих пор подвергает сомнению этот вывод.  В 2007 году недалеко от места первого захоронения было обнаружено захоронение останков двух детей.  

Результаты исследований ДНК свидетельствовали о принадлежности их Цесаревичу Алексею и Его сестре Марии. Это подтверждалось также наличием в захоронении пуль и осколков керамических сосудов, аналогичных обнаруженным в 1991 году.

Таким образом, в истории посмертной судьбы Императора  Николая II была наконец поставлена точка.

© 2011 Coble; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Originally published at http://www.investigativegenetics.com/content/2/1/20  

"No Reason to doubt the Romanov DNA Testing"


T.J Parsons, PhD

Formerly, Chief Scientist The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory


In 2004, the Russian Expert Commission Abroad provided a finger of Grand Duchess Elizabeth, the Tsarina's sister for DNA testing, to Dr. Alec Knight,, senior scientist of the Stanford Anthropological Sciences Laboratory. The finger was obtained from Bishop Antony Grabbe, who originally received it when Grand Duchess Elizabeth's coffin was opened in 1982.

Knight's team concluded that "previous DNA analysis of the purported Romanov remains -- nine skeletons unearthed near Ekaterinburg in central Russia -- are invalid. Knight and his colleagues base their claim on molecular and forensic inconsistencies they see in the original genetic tests, as well as their independent DNA analysis of the preserved finger of the late Grand Duchess Elisabeth -- sister of Tsarina Alexandra, one of the 1918 victims -- which failed to match the tsarina's own DNA. The Stanford team's findings were reported in the January/February issue, 2004 of the Annals of Human Biology." [Reference: Press Release by Esther Landhuis a science-writing intern at the Stanford News Service.]

Dr. Alec Knight's work was disputed in an article, called "New Claims" That the Remains of the Russian Imperial Family are they Still Missing....Or Are They? Sorting Out Facts From Fiction” by Helen Azar and Margarita Nelipa, published in the "Atlantis: In the Courts of Memory" vol 6 (2005) pp 197-206) This article has been translated into Russian for the Russian-speaking readers. (To read this article in Russian click on the underlined wording)

Dr. Thomas J. Parsons, former Chief Scientist of the US ARMY DNA LAB, wrote an article exclusively for SEARCH highly disputing Alec Knight's results - read an article

SEARCH maintains that the remains found on the Old Koptiaki Road are those of the Romanovs and we Thank  Drs. Thomas J. Parsons, Peter Gill, Michael Coble, Evgeny Rogaev and Tamara Tsitovich for standing up for Truth and for helping to bring closure to a very sad chapter in Russian and world history.

Captain Peter Sarandinaki

SEARCH Foundation, Inc.