Monday, 2 May 2011
Rasputin - The Evil Genius of Russia
Rasputin was born into a peasant family at Pokrovskoye in Siberia. Later stories held that during his childhood Rasputin showed supernatural powers, such as the ability to identify thieves merely by looking at them, but these derive from his family members and are not considered reliable. He was, however, an unruly boy and when a teenager his family sent him to spend three months at the Verkhoturye Monastery to learn a bit of discipline. Instead he had a vision of the Virgin Mary which convinced him that he had miraculous powers and that he was destined by God to be a wandering preacher. He then fell in with a secretive and banned sect, the Khlysty, rumoured to indulge in sexual acts as part of their rituals. Rasputin quickly left the group and went to live with a hermit monk named Makariy. He then returned home and, outwardly, settled down to being a peasant. He married, had three children and began farming. But in 1901 he left home to begin his ministry.
By 1905 Rasputin had established a firm reputation among country folk as a fervent preacher, gifted holy healer and miracle worker. In 1905 he was approached by a noble lady, Anna Vyrubova, who asked if he could cure haemophilia, a rare genetic blood disorder that stops the blood from clotting, leading to massive bleeding from the most minor of wounds. Rasputin said he would try and was led to a small boy suffering huge internal bleeding from a bruise caused by falling from a horse. The boy was Alexei, son and heir to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Rasputin led the boy in prayer and insisted that he was given total bed rest. The bleeding stopped and the prince’s life was saved. Thereafter the Tsaritsa Alexandra insisted that Rasputin should stay nearby so that he could come to her son whenever needed. Alexandra came to believe that God spoke to her through Rasputin. Even the Tsar Nicholas considered him a holy man and friend.
Others at the Imperial court were not so convinced by Rasputin’s claims to sanctity. It soon became known that he had a voracious sexual appetite - once seducing a nun - and that he drank to excess most nights. The fact that he gradually came to have some degree of political influence over Alexandra, and through her over the Tsar, angered and disturbed government officials while senior figures in the church disliked his unorthodox preaching. Rasputin claimed that before achieving redemption it was necessary to sin, which he did with great enjoyment and often with noble ladies as well as peasant women, before abasing himself before God.
When World War I began, the Tsar left for the front leaving his wife in charge of domestic policy. Soon opposition to her poorly thought-out policies began to centre on Rasputin. One of those opposing the government, Prince Felix Yusupov, decided that Rasputin had to die. Exactly what happened next is uncertain. Yusupov gave several different and self-contradictory versions of the killing. What is certain is that Rasputin went to attend a dinner at Yusopov’s house in St Petersburg and was found dead three days later floating in the Neva River. In the 1990s it emerged that a British spy had been present at the killing and may have helped or even instigated the plot.
“Rasputin - the evil genius of Russia.” politician Vladimir Purishkevich 1916.