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Russia: Last Tsar Laid To Rest

St. Petersburg, 17 July 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, was laid to rest today at a funeral service in the former imperial capital of St. Petersburg.

The remains of the tsar were laid in a crypt inside the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, alongside the remains of his wife, three of their daughters and four servants.

About 300 people attended the funeral service, including foreign diplomats and Romanov family descendants. In an address to the gathering, Russian President Boris Yeltsin urged Russians to close a "bloody century" with repentance. Yeltsin described the execution of tsar Nicholas and his family as "one of the most shameful pages" in Russian history.

Nicholas II and his family were murdered by the Bolsheviks in the Yekaterinburg 80 years ago today.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Aleksii II, boycotted today's service. The Church has expressed doubts about the authenticity of bones found in 1991 that have been ruled, after extensive DNA testing, to be those of the tsar and his family. Aleksii said prayers today at a monastery outside Moscow in honor of the tsar, his family members and "all victims of anti-religious regimes."

Meanwhile in Moscow today, Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko today told the State Duma, Russia's lower house, that the government would force through its anti-crisis package by presidential decree.

Kiriyenko said the Duma's refusal to fully back the government's plan meant that the federal and regional budgets combined could only raise 30 percent of projected revenue. He said he would take steps to correct the problem through presidential decrees and governmental orders.

The Duma ended its special session and began the summer recess. In three days of deliberations, the chamber passed 14 measures contained in the government's package and rejected seven.