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Murdered tsar is made saint in Moscow Cathedral.

The Russian Orthodox Church yesterday declared Russia's last tsar a martyr and saint for dying at the hands of enemies of the church, a Bolshevik firing squad.

Patriarch Alexiy II, dressed in white and gold and wearing a crown encircled with icons, led a service that lasted several hours in Moscow's towering Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, rebuilt on the spot where the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin tore it down.

A Church council decided last week to canonise the family and hundreds of others who it said had died for their belief in the church in the face of Soviet repression. Nicholas and his family were shot by Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1918.

Many independent historians criticise the tsar for overseeing the 1905 "Bloody Sunday" massacre by Imperial Guards, who opened fire on peaceful strikers carrying his portrait, an event seen as contributing to the revolution.

A recent poll showed that many Russians continue to view the tsar with some hostility.

The survey showed 46 per cent disapproved of his canonisation while 31 per cent backed it and 23 per cent were uncertain.

Church officials have recorded miracles associated with the tsar, including icon portraits of him that weep fragrant liquid.

Such reports led the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which was opposed to the Soviet state, to canonise Nicholas in 1981.
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Author:Henderson, Peter
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 21, 2000
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