12 November 2008

Interview of the Head of the House of Romanoff with the Journal of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

Interview of the Head of the House of Romanoff with the Journal of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

An Interview of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, with the socio-political journal of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, The Russian Federation Today (published with a few omissions: “Without the past, there will be no future,” in The Russian Federation Today, October, 2008, p. 58. Interview taken by Iu. Govorukhin).  

Your Imperial Highness, what feelings did you have when you heard about the rehabilitation of the members of the Royal Family?

More than anything else, I felt pride in my homeland. I always believed that justice and the rule of law would triumph. When my non-Russian friends would say to me, perhaps out of their most sincere convictions, that I should refer the matter to an international legal body, I always replied to them that the question of the rehabilitation of Emperor Nicholas II and his family and their faithful servitors must be resolved only inside Russia. The ruling on the rehabilitation of my relatives by the Presidium of the Supreme Court showed to the entire world that Russia is, without a doubt, a government of laws. The result of our three-year effort was our obtaining the recognition and fulfillment of the law. But we do not consider the rehabilitation of Royal Passion-Bearers a personal victory. This was a common victory for all the citizens of Russia who respect our historical past. I am grateful to all who, whatever may have been their own political convictions or attitudes toward the reestablishment of the monarchy, nonetheless supported my legal efforts.

What consequences do you think the rehabilitation of the Royal Family will lead to?

The moral and legal consequences of this decision are innumerable. The Royal Family was the symbolic first family of Russia. The shooting of the Royal Family ushered in a many-years-long terror, the victims of which were the countless people who belonged to various classes, nationalities, and religions. But right up to 1 October 2008, from a legal point of view, our government continued to view members of the House of Romanoff as “enemies of the people,” whose executions were justified. This was a heavy and bloody burden of the past from which we today have been freed.

One must not fail to note that our case shows that one can achieve justice even when faced with enormous opposition. Now, every citizen of Russia can be certain that one can stand up for justice—both in big matters and in small matters. So the rehabilitation of the Royal Family is a kind of step toward the breaking down of “legal nihilism,” about which recently President Dmitrii Medvedev spoke. We can now boldly affirm that the government of Russia opposes this nihilism not only in words, but also in deeds.

Will you now attempt to receive compensation or the return of your family’s properties?

I have never linked the question of the rehabilitation of members of the Royal Family with any sort of property or financial interests. Moreover, I have more than once said that the Imperial House is in principle against restitution since it could be dangerous to the civil order in Russia. That was the position that my father, Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich, and my grandfather, Emperor Kirill Vladimirovich, both took. We have never asked for anything nor required anything for ourselves. To the extent that the role of the Imperial House in the civic life of contemporary Russia grows, the government itself will determine in what ways and in what forms it will utilize our historic potential, and what assistance it will offer us when the time comes for our permanent return to Russia.

In your view, what role do you see the Imperial House playing in the modern world?

In any country, the historic dynasty is, whether it reigns or not, a symbol of continuity and a connection with the centuries-long inheritance of one’s ancestors. If anyone were to consider this an insignificant factor, they would be sorely mistaken. Look at the situation in various places around the world: practically in every country, including formerly communist countries, where the imperial and royal houses have returned, they work for the benefit of their countries. Nowhere has the return of former ruling houses been disruptive: the constitutional order continues on unchanged, and the political and social life of the country continues to develop and evolve. The ruling houses become a source of support from the past, without which it is impossible to build a future.

And in your opinion, what forms could the activities of the House of Romanoff take in Russia?

First and foremost, I am convinced that the Imperial House should be absolutely outside any sort of politics. The dynasty should be a force for unity, not division. Before us lies an enormous field of activity on a range of social, cultural and charitable issues. We can help with the rebirth of traditions in various spheres of life, with the raising of patriotism, and with the reestablishment and strengthening of friendship between the peoples that belonged historically to the Russian Empire. On the international level, we can strengthen the position of Russia and defend its image against unjustified attacks, can advance the interests of the country on an unofficial level as an ambassador of good will, can help promote trade, and so on. All this we strive to do even now, but, of course, we would have far greater success if the government would supply even the smallest moral and legal support to our efforts.

Your mother, Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, recently celebrated her 94-th birthday. We ask that you convey to her our congratulations. How is she feeling these days?

Of course, the years take their toll. My mother keeps repeating that she wants to go to Russia, but this is, unfortunately, not possible. She cannot endure long flights or trips. But she continues to be very interested in everything going on in Russia. She was very touched by all the well-wishes she received from her countrymen in Russia and from many countries around the world. His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksei II, awarded my mother the Church’s Order of St. Olga in the First Class. In Moscow and St. Petersburg, and in many cities in Russia, her birthday was marked with molebens [intercessory prayer services].

And how is your son, Grand Duke Georgii?

He is working and gaining experience. Right now, Georgii is living in Brussels. We hope that soon an opportunity will arise for him to apply his reservoir of knowledge and experience directly for the good of Russia.

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