21 January 1869|
Pokrovskoye, Siberia, Russian Empire
|Died||30 December 1916 (aged 47)
|Cause of death||Homicide|
|Occupation||peasant, pilgrim, healer, advisor|
|Spouse(s)||Praskovia Fedorovna Dubrovina|
|Parents||Efim Vilkin Rasputin
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (Russian: Григорий Ефимович Распутин, IPA: [ɡrʲɪˈɡorʲɪj jɪˈfʲiməvʲɪtɕ rɐˈsputʲɪn]), baptized on 22 January [O.S. 10 January] 1869 – murdered on 30 December [O.S. 17 December] 1916 was a Russian peasant, mystic and private adviser to the Romanovs, who became an influential figure in the later years of tsar Nicolas' reign. This was especially the case after August 1915 when the Emperor left Petrograd for Stavka at the front, leaving his wife Alexandra Feodorovna to act in his place. It appears that his personal influence over the Tsarina became so great that it was Rasputin who ordered the destinies of Imperial Russia, while she compelled her weak husband to fulfill them.
Rasputin was neither a monk, nor a saint. He was considered a "strannik" (or pilgrim) wandering from cloister to cloister. Rasputin was obsessed by religion and impressed many people with his knowledge and ability to explain the Bible in an uncomplicated way. It was widely believed that Rasputin had a gift for curing bodily ailments. In 1907 Rasputin was invited by Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna to act as a healer for their only son, tsarevich Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia. "In the mind of the Tsarina Rasputin was closely associated with the health of her son, and the welfare of the monarchy."
Rasputin was regarded as a "starets", an "elder", by his followers, who believed him to be a psychic and faith healer and his critics referred to him by the same term in an ironic fashion. However, he never preached or spoke in public. The Tsarina and her family saw Rasputin as a "Man of God", a prophet, however, his enemies saw him as a debauched religious charlatan and a lecher. Brian Moynahan describes him as "... a complex figure, intelligent, ambitious, idle, generous to a fault, spiritual, and - utterly- amoral." He was an unusual mix, a muzhik, prophet and party-goer.
While Rasputin's influence and role may have been exaggerated, historians agree that his presence played a significant part in the increasing unpopularity of the Tsar and his wife immediately prior to the February Revolution of 1917. The conspirators, who did not accept a peasant being that close to the Imperial couple, had hoped that by removing Rasputin the Tsarina would retreat from political activities. They believed Rasputin was an agent of Germany. According to Greg King Rasputin's influence over the Tsarina in the political arena seems to be overestimated."
There is much uncertainty over Rasputin's life and influence, as accounts are often based on dubious memoirs, hearsay and legend. Colin Wilson stated in 1964 "No figure in modern history has provoked such a mass of sensational and unreliable literature as Grigory Rasputin. More than a hundred books have been written about him, and not a single one can be accepted as a sober presentation of his personality. There is an enormous amount of material on him, and most of it is full of invention or willful inaccuracy. Rasputin's life, then, is not 'history'; it is the clash of history with subjectivity."
In Russia he is seen by many ordinary people and clerics, among them the late Elder Nikolay Guryanov, as a righteous man. However, Alexy II of Moscow said that any attempt to make a saint of Rasputin would be "madness".
Grigory Rasputin was born the son of a well-to-do peasant in the small, but prosperous village of Pokrovskoye in the Tobolsk guberniya (now Yarkovsky District in the Tyumen Oblast) in the immense West Siberian Plain. The parish register contains the following entry for January 9, 1869: “In the village of Pokrovskoe, in the family of the peasant Yefim Yakovlevich Rasputin and his wife, both Orthodox, was born a son, Grigory.” The next day he was baptized and named after Gregory of Nyssa, whose feast day is on 10 January. Rasputin was the fifth of nine children.
Grigory never attended school; according to the census of 1897 almost everybody in the village was illiterate. In Pokrovskoye the young Rasputin was regarded as an outsider, but one endowed with mysterious gifts. "His limbs jerked, he shuffled his feet and always kept his hands occupied. Despite physical tics, he commanded attention." The little that is known about his childhood was passed down by his daughter Maria. On February 2, 1887, Rasputin married the three-years-older Praskovia Fyodorovna Dubrovina. The couple had three children: Dmitri, Varvara and Maria; two earlier sons died young. In 1898 Rasputin abruptly left his village, his wife, children and parents. He spent three months in the famous Verkhoturye monastery, perhaps after charges of horse theft were made against him. Not far from the monastery lived a monk by the name brother Makary. Makary had a strong influence on Rasputin, which lead to Grigory giving up drinking, smoking, eating meat and becoming a strannik. When he arrived home he had become a zealous convert.
Around 1900 Rasputin traveled to Mount Athos, but left shocked and profoundly disillusioned, as he told Makary. It seems Rasputin always went home to help his family with the harvest. In 1903 he spent some time in Kiev where he visited the Monastery of the Caves. In Kazan he attracted the attention of theologians and members of the upper class. According to the monk Iliodor, Rasputin moved to the capital St Petersburg in December 1903. He was introduced to John of Kronstadt, a famous healer, and Ivan Stragorodsky, the rector of the Theological Faculty. Rasputin stayed at Alexander Nevsky Lavra. He met with Theophanes of Poltava, who played a crucial role in introducing Rasputin to the Imperial Court, Milica of Montenegro, and her sister Anastastia. The two sisters were interested in Persian mysticism, spiritism and occultism, and presented Rasputin to tsar Nicolas and his wife Alexandra on 1 November 1905 (O.S.). While determined to maintain the autocratic system of government that he had inherited from his father, tsar Nicholas was not a strong or perceptive personality and largely under the influence of his neurotic wife. Prior to his meeting with Rasputin, the Tsar had had to deal with the Russo-Japanese War, Bloody Sunday, the Revolution of 1905 and a nation-wide railway strike. In a city without electricity the Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias was forced by Sergei Witte to sign the October Manifesto, to agree with the establishment of the State Duma and give up part of his autocracy.
Healer to Alexei
In October 1906, at the request of the Tsar, Rasputin paid a visit to the wounded daughter of Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin. A few weeks before, 29 people had been killed after a bomb attack, including one of Stolypin's children. A few months later,
... on December 15, Rasputin petitioned the Tsar, seeking to legally change his name. Grigory explained that six families in Pokrovskoye bore the surname Rasputin, and this was producing "every sort of confusion." Rasputin asked Nicholas "to end this confusion by permitting me and my descendants to take the name Rasputin-Novyi," which means "Rasputin-New" or the "New Rasputin."
In April and June 1907 Rasputin was invited again to Tsarskoye Selo, this time to see tsarevich Alexei. The boy had received an injury which caused him painful bleeding. It was not publicly known that the heir to the throne had hemophilia, a disease that was widespread among European royalty. When doctors could not supply a cure, the desperate Tsarina looked for other help; she had lost her brother, her younger sister and her mother when she was young. Rasputin was said to possess the ability to heal through prayer and was indeed able to give the boy some relief, in spite of the doctors' prediction that he would die. On the following day the Tsarevich showed significant signs of recovery.
In early October 1912, during a particularly grave crisis in Spała, in Russian Poland, the Tsarevitch received the last sacrament. The Tsarina turned to her best friend, Anna Vyrubova, to secure the help of the peasant healer, who at that time was out of favor. On 9 October Rasputin sent a short telegram from his home in Siberia, including the prophecy: "The little one will not die. Do not allow the doctors to bother him too much." Alexandra believed that Rasputin had cured her son through the power of prayer.
It has been claimed that Rasputin's apparent healing powers arose from his use of hypnosis, but he was not interested in this practice before 1914. Rasputin's enemies suggested that he secretly drugged Alexis. For Greg King these explanations fail to take into account those times when Rasputin healed the boy, despite being 2600 km (1650 miles) away. For Fuhrmann these ideas on hypnosis and drugs flourished because the imperial family lived such isolated lives. For Moynahan, "There is no evidence that Rasputin ever summoned up spirits, or felt the need to; he won his admirers through force of personality, not by tricks."
Even before Rasputin's arrival, the upper classes of St. Petersburg had been widely influenced by mysticism. Individual aristocrats were reportedly obsessed with anything occult. Papus had visited Russia three times, in 1901, 1905, and 1906, serving the Tsar and Tsarina both as physician and occult consultant. While fascinated by Rasputin, the St Petersburg elite did not widely accept him. Around 1910 the press started a campaign against Rasputin, who decided to go on a trip for a few months. Around Easter 1911 he paid a visit to the Holy Land.
In early 1912 Iliodor showed Makarov some letters between Alexandra and Rasputin, hinting that they were lovers. When the stolen letters were given to the Tsar, Alexandra refused to meet with Rasputin for a period of time. Rodzianko asked him to leave the capital. Vladimir Kokovtsov offered him a substantial amount of money and ordered the newspapers not to mention his name. Rasputin refused the money. He had become one of the most hatred people in Russia  and was under surveillance day and night.
Hermogen started charges that Rasputin had joined the Khlysty, an obscure Christian sect, with strong Siberian roots. Also Rodzianko and Theofan held Rasputin for a Khlyst. There is little or no proof that he was a member, but Rasputin does appear to have been influenced. According to Rasputin's daughter Maria, Grigory did "look into". He accepted some of their beliefs regarding sin as a necessary part of redemption. One practice was known as "rejoicing" (радение); a ritual which sought to overcome human sexual urges by first engaging in group sexual activities. He believed that those deliberately committing fornication and then repenting bitterly, will be closer to God. Suspicions that Rasputin, a good dancer, was one of the Khlysty tarnished his reputation right until the end of his life. Recently found documents (a 500-page document archive provided by Mstislav Rostropovich and investigated by Edvard Radzinsky) suggest that accusations about Rasputin's sexual dissoluteness were false.
He had ... survived public scandal, allegations of rape and lewdness, the critisism of two prime ministers, the contempt of the Duma, the hatred of churchmen, and a vitriolic press campaign - all this before he was called on as a last resort to save the heir.
After the Spala accident, where the Tsarevich fell and became seriously ill, Rasputin regained influence at court, also in church affairs. His position as an intermediary had been dramatically validated, but the Holy Synod frequently attacked Rasputin, accusing him of a variety of immoral or evil practices. Rasputin was variously considered as being a heretic, erotomaniac or a pseudo-khlyst. On 21 February 1913 Rodzianko dismissed Rasputin from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan shortly before the celebration of 300 years rule of the Romanov's over Russia. Rasputin's behavior was discussed in the Third Duma.
In March 1913 the Octobrists led by Alexander Guchkov, President of the Duma, commissioned an investigation on Rasputin to research the allegations. The Tsar was preoccupied with the threat of a scandal, and asked Rasputin to leave for Siberia. Nicholas ordered his own investigations but did not remove Rasputin from his position of influence. The Tsar and his wife referred to Gregori as "our friend" and a "holy man", a sign of the trust that the family had placed in him. "Anyone bold enough to criticize Rasputin found only condemnation from the Tsarina." The Tsar dismissed Kokovtsov on 29 January 1914 for a "lack of control over the press".
In Spring 1914 Rasputin traveled with his father who had been visiting him from the capital to Pokrovskoye. On the afternoon of Sunday 12 July [O.S. 29 June] 1914 having dined, he went out from the house. Suddenly he was attacked by Khionia Guseva. This fanatically religious woman once had been an adherent of the monk Iliodor; Rasputin believed he and Vladimir Dzhunkovsky had organized the attack. The woman with a black kerchief, who had reportedly been following Rasputin since the previous year, approached him, and then jerked out a dagger. She twice struck the monk in the region of the stomach and his entrails hung out. Rasputin fell, covered with blood. On 3 July Rasputin was transported by boat to Tyumen for treatment. The Tsar sent his own physician and after intensive surgery and almost seven weeks in the hospital, until 17 August, Rasputin recovered. Rasputin had to walk around in a gown, unable to wear ordinary clothes. His daughter Maria records that he was never the same man afterwards  and started to drink again.
After the attack Iliodor fled around the Gulf of Bothnia with the help of Maxim Gorki to Oslo. "Guseva denied Iliodor's participation, declaring that she attempted to kill Rasputin because he was spreading temptation among the innocent." No connection could be made between her and Iliodor, a panslavist and deist and Guseva was locked up in a madhouse in Tomsk. She was released by Alexander Kerensky in March 1917.
Most of Rasputin's enemies had by now disappeared. Stolypin was dead, Kokovtsov fallen from power, Theophan exiled, Hermogen banished, and Iliodor in hiding.
World War I
Shortly before the outbreak of World War I, Rasputin spoke against Russia going to war with Germany. From the hospital Rasputin sent quite a few telegrams to the court expressing his fears on the future of the country. "If Russia goes to war, it will be the end of the monarchy, of the Romanovs and of Russian institutions." After a year the situation at the Eastern front had become disastrous: a shortage of food and weapons due to bad train connections; more than 1,5 million soldiers had died in the first year of the conflict. In June the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Duke Nicholas, responsible for the largest army ever put into the field in all prior history, signified to throw up his post. Especially when the German army occupied Warsaw in August 1915 the situation aggravated and the Russian army had to withdraw (Great Retreat). Alexandra sent a cable telling Rasputin to return to the capital.
Tsar Nicholas took command of the Russian armies on 23 August 1915 (O.S.) and hoped it would lift the morale. He was undoubtedly led to this fateful decision by the insistence of the Tsaritsa and of Rasputin. "Having one man in charge of the situation would consolidate all decision making." It proved to have dire consequences for himself as well as for Russia. It is usually seen as a mistake, as he came to be personally associated with the continuing losses at the front. In September the Duma was sent into recess and would not gather till February 1916.
When the Tsar pronounced to leave for the front in Mogilev, the Progressive Bloc was formed, fearing Rasputin's influence over tsarina Alexandra would increase. On August 19, 1915, after unsuccessful attempt to discredit Rasputin, Vladimir Dzhunkovsky was discharged from most of his posts; censorship being a top priority for Nicholas. The rear then pronounced the affair between Rasputin and the Romanovs to be a private one closed to debate. All the ministers, even Ivan Goremykin, realized that the change would put Rasputin in charge and threatened to resign. In September 1915 Vasily Maklakov, a lawyer, published his famous article, describing Russia as a vehicle with no brakes, driven along a narrow mountain path by a "mad chauffeur", a reference to either the Tsar or Rasputin.
While seldom meeting with Alexandra personally after 1914, Rasputin had become her personal adviser through daily telephone calls by Vyroubova. According to Fuhrmann a symbiotic relationship developed between the Tsarina and Rasputin, "each fed from the other". He convinced the Tsarina to fill some governmental offices with his own candidates, but only four ministerial positions, may have changed hands due to Rasputin. According to Alexander Kerensky he terrorized the Tsarina by threatening to return to his native village.
In the fall of 1915 Alexei Khvostov and Iliodor planned to kill Rasputin. Khvostov had come to the conclusion that Rasputin was a spy. The evidence that Rasputin actually worked for the Germans is flimsy. Before Christmas they gave up their plan.
The Russian Minister of the Interior, A.N. Chvostov, has recently declared himself in favor of inaugurating a fight against the "yellow press", which has grown considerably during recent years. Not long ago, some of these newspapers were involved in "society scandals", their part in them being exposed by rather sensational trials. Mr. Chvostov's Ministry has under consideration a plan for exiling from Petrograd the journalists who were connected with the newspapers involved in the scandals.
A few days before the Duma gathered and Goremykim had been replaced by Stürmer as prime minister, Rasputin learned about a new suicide attempt on him. Rasputin, rather paranoid, went to Alexander Spiridovich. He was under Imperial protection; and S.P. Beletsky, associated with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, exercised 24-hour surveillance of him and his apartment. Accordingly, there exists some credible evidence about his lifestyle in the form of the famous "staircase notes"—reports from Ochrana spies, which were given to the Tsar, in order to convince him to break with Rasputin.
Khostov had to resign in March 1916 after ordering to spy on all the political parties in his efforts to become the new prime minister. Russia's economy, growing till the beginning of the Great War, was declining at a very rapid rate. Minister of War Alexei Polivanov was removed from office; Vladimir Sukhomlinov left on charges of abuse of power and treason. In May Alexandra and Rasputin called for an end of the Brusilov Offensive.
On 22 July Aleksandr Khvostov was appointed as Minister of Interior, but already on 16 September Alexander Protopopov was proposed as his successor; this time the public was outraged, when he banned public organizations from meeting without the police in attendance. Protopopov, an industrialist and landowner, member of the Progressive Bloc, showing signs of mental disorder, was widely suspected of contacts with German secret agents. He was fanatically convinced that he had a mission to save Russia, and he concocted all manner of schemes based on total oppression of the people by the dread Okhrana, the secret police." Rasputin and Protopopov, his protégé, made plans to reorganize the food supply.
On 1 November (O.S.) the government under Boris Stürmer was attacked by Pavel Milyukov in the State Duma. In his speech he highlighted numerous governmental failures with the famous question "Is this stupidity or treason?" Alexander Kerensky called the ministers "hired assassins" and "cowards" and said they were "guided by the contemptible Grishka Rasputin!" In short, there was practically no one ... who did not see the need for a fundamental change in the structure of the government.
Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich, according to M. Nelipa one of the key players, prince Lvov, the leader of the Union of Zemstvos, and general Mikhail Alekseyev attempted to persuade Nicholas to send the Empress away either to the Livadia Palace in Yalta or to England. Also Mikhail Rodzianko, Zinaida Yusupova, Alexandra's sister Elisabeth, and the Tsar's mother tried to influence the Emperor to remove Rasputin, but without succes. "To the nobles and Nicholas’s family members, Rasputin was a dual character who could go straight from praying for the royal family to the brothel (bathhouse) down the street."
The Tsar's ministers who have been turned into marionettes, marionettes whose threads have been taken firmly in hand by Rasputin and the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna—the evil genius of Russia and the Tsarina ... who has remained a German on the Russian throne and alien to the country and its people.
Purishkevich stated that Rasputin's influence over the Tsarina had made him a threat to the empire: "... an obscure moujik shall govern Russia no longer!" “While Rasputin is alive, we cannot win”.
Prince Felix Yusupov attended the speech and contacted the reactionary Purishkevich, who quickly agreed to participate in the murder of Rasputin. Also Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich (who as a boy was raised in the Alexander Palace), joined the conspiracy. His father, Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia, persuaded the Tsar, to change his policy and accept a new constitution in order to save the monarchy.
On 23 November Alexander Trepov had made the dismissal of Protopopov an indispensable condition of his accepting the presidency of the Council. Trepov threatened to resign. Alexandra traveled to Stavka to convince her husband to appoint Protopopov; Rasputin and Vyrobova sent five telegrams to support her. The appointment of Protopopov, who was quite ill, wasn't approved until 7 December 1916. In between Alexander Guchkov had come to the painful conclusion the situation could only improve when the Tsar was replaced. "To the Okhrana it was obvious by the end of 1916 that the liberal Duma project was superfluous, and that the only two options left were repression or a social revolution."
In the seventeen months of the `Tsarina's rule', from September 1915 to February 1917, Russia had four Prime Ministers, five Ministers of the Interior, three Foreign Ministers, three War Ministers, three Ministers of Transport and four Ministers of Agriculture. This `ministerial leapfrog', as it came to be known, not only removed competent men from power, but also disorganized the work of government since no one remained long enough in office to master their responsibilities.
Rasputin apparently feared that he would die before the end of the year. It seems he accepted his destiny. He burned his correspondence and moved money to his daughters from his bank account. He wrote a strangely prophetic letter "The Spirit of Gregory Efimovich Rasputin of the village of Pokrovskoe", intended for the Tsar. On the afternoon of 16 December, the Duma was closed for a Christmas reces; M. Nelipa thinks what happened next was intentionally timed. In the early evening Anna Vyrubova visited Rasputin in his flat. He told her of a proposed midnight visit to Yusupov in his palace. Protopopov, a frequent visitor to Rasputin's flat, begged him not to go out that night.
The murder of Rasputin has become something of a legend, some of it invented, perhaps embellished or simply misremembered. There are very few facts between the night the "strannik" disappeared and the day his corpse was dredged up from the river. The official police report, with details gathered in two days, is unconvincing. This is why it is so difficult to discern the actual course of events. What is left are the memoirs of the murderers Felix Yusupov and Vladimir Purishkevich. Unfortunately these are biased.
On the night of 16/17 December (O.S.) Rasputin was lured to the Yusopov palace in central Petrograd by Yusupov intimating that his wife, Princess Irina, would be present. In point of fact, she was away in the Crimea, staying with her parents-in-law and had refused to cooperate. Yusupov and dr. Lazovert had gone to Rasputin's apartment and drove him to the palace, where a sound-proof room in the basement in the east wing had been specially prepared for the crime. Waiting on another floor were their fellow conspirators: the young Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich (a cousin of the Tsar), Duma member Purishkevich, dr Stanislaus de Lazovert, in charge of a medical aid train on the Eastern Front and Sergei Mikhailovich Sukhotin, an army officer in the Preobrazhensky Regiment. A gramophone in the study played the Yankee Doodle, when Rasputin entered the palace.
According to Yusupov he offered petit fours and sweet Madeira, laced with a large amount of cyanide to Rasputin. Purishkevich wrote Vasily Maklakov had supplied enough poison to kill five men, but the Kadet politician and lawyer denied it. According to Yusupov Rasputin refused the cakes but appeared almost unaffected when he gobbled down some. Maria Rasputin asserts that, after the attack by Guseva, her father suffered from hyperacidity and avoided anything with sugar. In fact, not only his daughter but also his former secretary Simanotwitsch express doubt that he was poisoned at all.
After an hour or two, still waiting for Rasputin to collapse, Yusupov played his guitar and sang a few gypsy ballads at the request. Determined to finish the job, Yusupov became anxious about the possibility that Rasputin might live until the morning, leaving the conspirators no time to conceal his body. Yusupov went upstairs to consult the others and then came back with a revolver to shoot Rasputin down.
At some time Yusupov went down to check on the body and writes Rasputin opened his eyes and lunged at him. He is supposed to have grabbed Yusupov, tore an epaulette off his tunic and attempted to strangle him. (Yusupov was keen on describing Rasputin as a monster, so he could become the "Savior of Russia".) Rasputin was severely hit by a bullet that entered his left chest and penetrated the stomach and the liver; a second entered the left back soon after the first and penetrated the kidneys. D. KosSorotov, T. Mironova and M. Nelipa think he would have died within twenty minutes. Rasputin seems to have climbed the stairs to the ground floor stumbling through the courtyard in the direction of the gate to the road fronting the palace. At that moment, according to Purishkevich, he fired at Rasputin, who fell into the snow. After being hit in the forehead, the nervous Yusupov clubbed his victim severely. A curious policeman on duty on the other side of the Moika rang at the door but was sent away after being told to keep quiet for the sake of the Tsar. However he told his superiors everything he had heard and seen.
They had planned to burn Rasputin’s possessions. Sukhotin put on Rasputin’s fur coat, his rubber boots, and gloves leaving with Dmitri Pavlovich and Dr. Lazovert in the car. Then it would have looked like Rasputin had left the palace alive in the early morning. Purishkevich' wife refused them to burn it in the small fire place, and the conspirators went back to the palace with the mentioned items. The assassins wrapped the body in a curtain, drove in the direction of Krestovsky island and at about 5am threw the corpse from a bridge into the Malaya Nevka River in an ice-hole. According to Lazovert they broke the ice and cast him in. They forgot to attach weights so that the body would sink deep, and left one of Rasputin's goloshes, a rubber boot (size 10), on the bridge.
The date of Rasputin’s death is variously recorded as being either 17 December 1916 (Old Style) or thirteen days later on 30 December 1916 using New Style, but on the evening of 29 December the murderers went to Rasputin's apartment, and the initial attempts to kill Rasputin almost certainly began after midnight and he died in the early hours of Saturday 30 December 1916.
The days after
Rasputin's disappearance was reported by his daughter early the next morning and quickly became widely known. The Tsarina was distressed and begged the Tsar, who was at Mohilev, to return to Tsarskoe Selo at once. On her orders a police investigation commenced and Prince Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitry, who had offered to visit her for tea and explain, were placed under house arrest. On a concert in the evening by Alexander Siloti, the national hymn was played on request by the audience. Since 1912 newspapers were forbidden to print his name in connection with the imperial family and referred to the 47-year old victim as a "person living on Gorokhovaya Street".
When traces of blood were detected on the railing of the Bolshoy Petrovsky bridge, the police knew where to investigate and found one of his boots. On Monday, 19 December (O.S.), Rasputin's body was discovered by divers in the icy river. On the same day the police was ordered to stop her inquest by the Director of the Police Department A.T. Vasilyev. An autopsy by Kossorotov in an hardly illuminated mortuary room of the Tchesma Hospice on the evening of 20 December  established that the cause of his instant death was the bullet in his forehead. The second bullet was extracted, the other shots were made at close range and passed on through the body. There was alcohol (according to Kossorotov cognac), in his body, but no water found in his lungs and no cyanide in his stomach. There were a number of injuries, many of them caused after his death.
"Margarita Nelipa, author of The Murder of Grigorii Rasputin: A Conspiracy That Brought Down the Russian Empire (2010), has done scholarship a great service by basing her discussion of the autopsy on Kosorotov’s original interview." "There is no evidence that Rasputin swallowed water after being pushed into the Neva or that he had freed his arm to make the sign of the cross." Kossorotov did find that Rasputin’s genitals were crushed with a dumbbell.
On 21 December Rasputin's body was buried in the grounds of Tsarskoye Selo; the private early-morning service in the Fedorovskiy Cathedral was attended by the Imperial couple with their children, Vyrubova and a few of Rasputin's friends, as colonel Loman but without a member of Rasputin's family. It lasted only 15 minutes because of the cold. It is told the Tsarina placed a note in the coffin addressing Rasputin as "my dear martyr" and asking him to "remember us from on high in your holy prayers". On 27 December the hesitating Nikolai Golitsyn became the successor of Trepov. After the February Revolution the Tsar resigned on 2 March 1917 (O.S.).
The investigation on Rasputin had been stopped on 4 March (O.S.) by Russian Provisional Government, led by Georgy Lvov. Members of the new Cabinet were worried, that the place of the grave of Rasputin would become widely known and provocations could be expected there. According to Moynahan:
His body was exhumed on March 9 by members of an anti-aircraft battery stationed in the imperial park at Tsarskoye Selo. The task was overseen by an artillery officer, Klimov. Rasputin’s face was found to have turned black, and an icon was found on his chest. It bore the signatures of Vyrubova, Alexandra, and her four daughters. The body was put into a packing case that once held a piano and was driven in secret to the imperial stables in Petrograd. The next day it was loaded onto a truck and taken out of Petrograd on the Lesnoe Road.
Eight men were aboard the truck. Koupchinsky, a representative of the Duma provisional committee, which was emerging as the revolutionary government; V. Kolotsiev, a captain in the Sixteenth Lancer Regiment; and six student militiamen from the Petrograd Polytechnic. They signed an affidavit saying that they had burned the body at the roadside near the forest of Pargolovo, "in the absolute absence of persons other than the signatories."
It was, perhaps, inevitable that even this final accounting for Rasputin was untrue. Koupchinsky later admitted that he had been ordered by Alexander Kerensky, soon to be head of the new provisional government, to rebury the corpse at an unmarked spot in the countryside. But the truck broke down on the Lesnoe Road. A crowd gathered. They forced open the packing case looking for gold, and discovered the corpse. Koupchinsky decided to burn it on the spot. His men cut down trees for a pyre, doused the corpse in gasoline, and set fire to it by the roadside. The ashes were lost to the wind and the mud.
Authors do not agree what happened after the truck broke down on Lesnoe Road, on its way north in the direction of Pargolovo. The corpse was taken into a field in the Vyborgsky District and burned. It seems the cremation was carried out in an amateurish way, so the remains had to be destroyed in the boiler shop of the Saint Petersburg State Polytechnical University.
The theatrical details on the murder given by Felix Yusupov have never stood up to scrutiny. He changed his account several times; the statement given to the St. Petersburg police, the accounts given whilst in exile in the Crimea in 1917, his 1927 book, and finally the accounts given under oath to libel juries in 1934 and 1965 all differ to some extent, and until recently no other credible, evidence-based theories have been available. Yusupov's role in the murder has recently been called into question being "consumed by the thought that "not a single important event at the front was decided without a preliminary conference" between Alexandra and Rasputin. It is likely there was no party, no poison, no escape up the stairway, and no shooting in the yard. Besides the murderers did not know what he had on, a beige or a blue shirt, and where Rasputin’s wounds were.
According to the unpublished 1916 autopsy report by Professor Dmitry Kossorotov, as well as subsequent reviews by Dr. Vladimir Zharov in 1993 and Professor Derrick Pounder in 2004/05, no active poison was found in Rasputin's stomach.
It could not be determined with certainty that he drowned, as the water found in his lungs is a common non-specific autopsy finding. All three sources agree that Rasputin had been systematically beaten and attacked with a bladed weapon; but, most importantly, there were discrepancies regarding the number and caliber of handguns used.
This discovery may significantly change the whole premise and account of Rasputin's death. British intelligence reports, sent between London and St Petersburg in 1916, indicate that the British were not only extremely concerned about Rasputin's displacement of pro-British ministers in the Russian government but, even more importantly, his apparent insistence on withdrawing Russian troops from World War I. This withdrawal would have allowed the Germans to transfer their Eastern Front troops to the Western Front, leading to a massive outnumbering of the Allies, and threatening their defeat. Whether this was actually Rasputin's intent or whether he was simply concerned about the huge number of Russian casualties (as the Tsarina's letters indicate) is in dispute, but it is clear that the British perceived him as a real threat to the war effort.
Professor Pounder states that, of all the shots fired into Rasputin's body, the one which entered his forehead was instantly fatal. This shot also provides some intriguing evidence. In Zharov and Pounder's view, with which the Firearms Department of London's Imperial War Museum agrees, the third shot was fired from a different gun from those responsible for the other two wounds. The "size and prominence of the abraded margin" suggested a large lead non-jacketed bullet. At the time, the majority of weapons used hard metal-jacketed bullets, with Britain virtually alone in using lead unjacketed bullets in their officers' Webley revolvers.[unreliable source?] Pounder came to the conclusion that the bullet which caused the fatal shot was a Webley .455 inch unjacketed round, the best fit with the available forensic evidence. Fuhrmann thinks it is not very likely a Webley and an unjacketed bullet was used.
There were two officers of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) in St. Petersburg at the time. Witnesses stated that at the scene of the murder, the only man present with a Webley revolver was Lieutenant Oswald Rayner, a British officer attached to the SIS station in St. Petersburg, who had visited the Yusupov palace several times on the day of the murder. This account is further supported by an audience between the British Ambassador, Sir George Buchanan, and tsar Nicholas, when Nicholas stated that he suspected a young Englishman who had been an old school friend of Yusupov (Rayner certainly had known Yusupov at the University of Oxford). The second SIS officer in St. Petersburg at the time was captain Stephen Alley, born in the Yusupov Palace in 1876. Both families had very strong ties, so it is difficult to come to any conclusion about whom to hold responsible.
Confirmation that Rayner met with Yusupov (along with another officer, Captain John Scale) in the weeks leading up to the killing can be found in the diary of their chauffeur, William Compton, who recorded all visits. The last entry was made on the night after the murder. Compton said that "it is a little-known fact that Rasputin was shot not by a Russian but by an Englishman" and indicated that the culprit was a lawyer from the same part of the country as Compton himself. There is little doubt that Rayner was born some ten miles from Compton's hometown and, throughout his life, described himself as a barrister-at-law.
Evidence that the attempt had not gone quite according to plan is hinted at in a letter which Alley wrote to Scale eight days after the murder: "Although matters here have not proceeded entirely to plan, our objective has clearly been achieved. ... a few awkward questions have already been asked about wider involvement. Rayner is attending to loose ends and will no doubt brief you."
On his return to England, Oswald Rayner not only confided to his cousin, Rose Jones, that he had been present at Rasputin's murder but also showed family members a bullet which he claimed to have acquired at the murder scene. "Additionally, Oswald Rayner translated Yusupov’s first book on the murder of the peasant, sparking an interesting possibility that the pair may have shaped the story to suit their own ends." Conclusive evidence is unattainable, however, as Rayner burned all his papers before he died in 1961 and his only son also died four years later.
In popular culture
After his death the memoirs of those who knew Rasputin became a mini-industry. The basement where he died is a tourist attraction. Numerous film and stage productions have been based on his life. He has appeared as a fictionalized version of himself in numerous other media, as well as having several beverages named after him.
- In a lost silent film "The Fall of the Romanovs" (1917) Iliodor played himself.
- Rasputin and the Empress is a 1932 film about Imperial Russia. The film's inaccurate portrayal of Prince Felix and Irina Yusupov as Prince Chegodieff and Princess Natasha caused a major lawsuit against MGM.
- The disco single "Rasputin" (1978) by the Germany-based pop and disco group Boney M references Grigori Rasputin's alleged healing of hemophiliac tsarevich Alexei of Russia, and how this endeared him to the boy's mother, the tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna (former Princess Alix of Hesse).
- In 2011, Josée Dayan directed a French-Russian produced film for television on Rasputin called Raspoutine that starred Gérard Depardieu in the role of Rasputin.
- Rasputin was the subject of the BBC Radio 4 Series: "Great Lives", first aired on 1 January 2013.
- Rasputin is now the focus of a major new musical theatre work Rasputin, Ripples to Revolution a musical by Peter Karrie
- With the aim of casting Leonardo di Caprio studio Warner Brothers has picked up the rights of a screenplay by Jason Hall.
- A. Kerensky (1965) Russia and History's turning point, p. 182.
- J.T. Fuhrmann (2013) Rasputin: The Untold Story, p. 141.
- G. King (1994) The Last Empress: The Life and Times of Alexandra Feodorovna, Empress of Russia, p. xi.
- C. Wilson, Rasputin and the Fall of the Romanovs, 1964, p. 14.
- Rasputin: The Untold Story by Joseph T. Fuhrmann, p. 28
- Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie, p. 197, 209
- Rasputin: Prophet, Libertine, Plotter by T. Vogel-Jorgensen and William Frederick Harvey 
- G. King (1997) The murder of Rasputin: the truth about Prince Felix Youssoupov and the mad monk who helped bring down the Romanovs, p. 22.
- G. King (1994), p. 191.
- Rasputin: The Mad Monk [DVD]. USA: A&E Home Video. 2005.
- B. Moynahan (1997) Rasputin. The saint who sinned, p. 164.
- The Russian Revolution and Civil War 1917-1921: An Annotated Bibliography by Jonathan Smele 
- B. Moynahan (1997) Rasputin. The saint who sinned, Preface.
- C.L. Sulzberger, The Fall of Eagles, pp. 263–278, Crown Publishers, New York, 1977
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- Elder Nikolay Guryanov's tastement for Russia (in Russian)
- Orthodox Church Takes On Rasputin
- Fuhrmann, p. xiii
- Demystifying the life of Grigory Rasputin
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- My Ideas and Thoughts by G. Rasputin
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- Brian Moynahan: “Rasputin. The saint who sinned” 1997, p. 168; Spiridovitch, p. 286.
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- Grigori Rasputin predicted the end of the world to come on August 23, 2013
- 'Rasputin' book at Edvard Radzinsky' home page (in Russian)
- Rasputin: a false myth about the Russian sexual giant from New Petersburg newspaper (Russian)
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- Iliodor, The Mad Monk, p. 193
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- British newspaper archive
- New York Times
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- The Lincoln Star › 6 May 1917 › Page 25
- The Czar Sends His Own Physician to Attend the Court Favorite Article in the NYT 15 July 1914 
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- Mon père Grigory Raspoutine. Mémoires et notes. (par Marie Solovieff-Raspoutine) J. Povolozky & Cie. Paris 1923; Matrena Rasputina, Memoirs of The Daughter, Moscow 2001. ISBN 5-8159-0180-6 (Russian)
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- Fontanka 16: The Tsars' Secret Police by Charles A. Ruud, Sergei Stepanov 
- Alexanderpalace Okhrana Surveillance Report on Rasputin – from the Soviet Krasnyi Arkiv
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- The News › 15 December 1966 › Page 21
- AN AMBASSADOR'S MEMOIRS by Maurice Paléologue, Volume III, CHAPTER IV NOVEMBER 23-DECEMBER 24, 1916.
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- The Russian Provisional Government, 1917: Documents, Volume 1, p. 16 by Robert Paul Browder, Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kerensky 
- The Murder of Grigorii Rasputin; a Conspiracy That Brought Down the Russian Empire
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- The Cambridge History of Russia: Volume 2, Imperial Russia, 1689-1917, p. 668 by Maureen Perrie, Dominic Lieven, Ronald Grigor Suny 
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- The Russian Provisional Government, 1917: Documents, Volume 1, p. 17 by Robert Paul Browder, Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kerensky 
- Tatyana Mironova. Grigori Rasputin: Belied Life – Belied Death
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- R. Pearson (1964) The Russian moderates and the crisis of Tsarism 1914-1917, p. 128.
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- Meiden, G.W. (1991) Raspoetin en de val van het Tsarenrijk, p. 75.
- O. Figes (1996) A People's Tragedy. The Russian Revolution 1891-1924, p. 290; Prins Joesoepov, (1929) De dood van Raspoetin, p. 156; Spiridovich, A. (1935) Raspoutine (1863-1916), p. 374; Meiden, G.W. (1991) Raspoetin en de val van het Tsarenrijk, p. 74.
- The Spirit of Gregory Efimovich Rasputin-Novykh of the village of Pokrovskoe
- Farquhar, Michael (2001). A Treasure of Royal Scandals, p. 197. Penguin Books, New York. ISBN 0-7394-2025-9.
- C.L. Sulzberger, The Fall of Eagles, pp. 271–273
- Pourichkévitch, V. (1924) Comment j'ai tué Raspoutine
- Pourichkévitch, V. (1924) Comment j'ai tué Raspoutine, Preface.
- The Rasputin File by Edvard Radzinsky
- The Russian Revolution and Civil War 1917-1921: An Annotated Bibliography by Jonathan Smele 
- Simanotwitsch, A. (1928) Rasputin. Der allmächtige Bauer, p. 37; E. Radzinsky, p. 477.
- J.T. Fuhrmann (2013), p. 209-210.
- J.T. Fuhrmann (2013), p. 200.
- To Kill Rasputin, by Andrew Cook. A review by Greg King
- O.A. Platonov Murder
- Almasoff, B. (1923) p. 189, 189, 210-212; Prins Joesoepov, (1929) De dood van Raspoetin, p. 184; Spiridovich, A. (1935) Raspoutine (1863-1916), p. 383; Simanotwitsch, A. (1928) Rasputin. Der allmächtige Bauer, p. 270; Pourichkévitch, V. (1924) Comment j'ai tué Raspoutine, p. 110 ; E. Radzinsky, p. 458.
- J.T. Fuhrmann, p. 211.
- The Assassination of Rasputin
- Almasov, B. (1924) Rasputin und Russland, p. 204.
- This discrepancy arises due to the fact that the Gregorian calendar was not introduced into Soviet Russia until 1918, see Old Style and New Style dates.
- The Guardian Rasputin killed by Tsar's nephew?
- J.T. Fuhrmann (2013), p. 216.
- AN AMBASSADOR'S MEMOIRS by Maurice Paléologue, Volume III, CHAPTER 5
- Margarita Nelipa (2010) The murder of Rasputin. A conspiracy that brought down the Russian empire, p. ?
- J.T. Fuhrmann (2013), p. 225.
- J.T. Fuhrmann (2013), p. 217.
- Platonov, O.A. (2001) Prologue regicide.
- Spiridovich, A. (1935) Raspoutine (1863-1916), p. 402; B. Moynahan, p. 245.
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- Spiridovich, A. (1935) Raspoutine (1863-1916), p. 421.
- O. Figes, p. 291; E. Radzinsky, p. 493.
- Saint Petersburg Encyclopaedia
- Sergei Fomin "How they burned Him" in Russky Vestnik, May 5th, 2002
- "Margarita Nelipa (2010) The Murder of Grigorii Rasputin: A Conspiracy That Brought Down the Russian Empire
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- Giles Milton, Russian Roulette: A Deadly Game: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Global Plot,Hachette UK, 2013 p.29
- "Richard Cullen on Rasputin's murder". Forum.alexanderpalace.org. Retrieved 2012-09-02.
- Uncovering the truth of the death of Rasputin at University of Dundee site
- Giles Milton, Russian Roulette: A Deadly Game: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Global Plot,Hachette UK, 2013 p.39
- J.T. Fuhrmann, p. 229
- Education. "British spy 'fired the shot that finished off Rasputin'". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- To Kill Rasputin, by Andrew Cook
- How Britain's first spy chief ordered Rasputin's murder (in a way that would make every man wince), by Annabel Venning, Daily Mail, July 22, 2010
- "BBC Radio 4 - Great Lives, Series 29, Grigori Rasputin". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "Rasputin, RIPPLES TO REVOLUTION - Home". Rasputinthemusical.weebly.com. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- Leonardo di Caprio set to play Rasputin
- Fuhrmann, Joseph T. (1990). Rasputin: A Life (illustrated ed.). New York: Praeger. p. 276. ISBN 0-275-93215-X. OCLC 19269485.
- Fuhrmann, Joseph T. (2013). Rasputin, the untold story (illustrated ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 314. ISBN 978-1-118-17276-6.
- Greg King (1994) The Last Empress. The Life & Times of Alexandra Feodorovna, tsarina of Russia. A Birch Lane Press Book.
- Massie, Robert K (2004) [originally in New York: Atheneum Books, 1967]. Nicholas and Alexandra: An Intimate Account of the Last of the Romanovs and the Fall of Imperial Russia (Common Reader Classic Bestseller ed.). United States: Tess Press. p. 672. ISBN 1-57912-433-X. OCLC 62357914.
- Brian Moynahan (1997) Rasputin. The saint who sinned
- Radzinsky, Edvard (2000) [originally in London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000]. Rasputin: The Last Word. translator Judson Rosengrant. St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia: Allen & Unwin. p. 704. ISBN 1-86508-529-4. OCLC 155418190.
- Alexander Spiridovich (1935) Raspoutine (1863-1916)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rasputin.|
- Photographs and films about Grigorii Yefimovich Rasputin
- The Alexander Palace Time Machine Bios-Rasputin – bio of Rasputin
- Russian Revolutions of 1917 (Archived 2009-10-31)
- The Murder of Rasputin
- BBC's Rasputin murder reconstruction
- RASPUTIN Grigory Efimovich – article about Rasputin at Encyclopaedia of St Petersburg
- Grigori Efimovich Rasputin "My Ideas and Thoughts"
- Ronald C. Moe, Prelude to the Revolution: The Murder of Rasputin (Aventine Press, 2011)
|Wikisource has the text of a 1922 Encyclopædia Britannica article about Grigori Rasputin.|