Church hails progress towards identifying suspected remains of John VI

Moscow, November 18, Interfax – The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed satisfaction with the results an inspection ordered by the Rosokhrankultura federal agency for monitoring compliance with the national heritage protection law into the reported discovery of the remains of Emperor John VI during archeological excavations in the Arkhangelsk Region.

“It will probably take a long time to identify the remains and establish the truth but one further step forward has been made,” Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for Church and Society Relations, has said in a statement.

His statement came in response to a letter from the Arkhangelsk regional heritage protection service to the Rosokhrankultura department in the Northwestern Federal District about the results of the inspection.

It revealed no evidence of any administrative violations on the part of ZAO Progresstech, a company that conducted the excavations in the village of Kholmogory, the letter says.

No signs proving that the remains didn’t belong to John VI have been found.

The latter circumstances clear the path for further research, including a genetic test, Father Vsevolod said.

He expressed hope that the remains would be identified before 2013 commemorating the 400th anniversary of the revival of the Russian state after the Great Turmoil.

Head of the search group Anatoly Karanin told Interfax-Religion in September that the remains of John VI, the only Russian emperor whose burial place had until that time been unknown, were found in Kholmogory. The remains were found during a search for the secret grave of Genaralissimo Anton Ulrich von Braunschweig, who was buried in the village of Kholmogory, Arkhangelsk Region, in 1776.

John VI, emperor from the Romanov dynasty, was born in St. Petersburg on August 23, 1740. After the death of Empress Anna Ioannovna, the 2-month old son of Princess Anna Leopoldovna and Price Anton Ulrich von Braunschweig and the grandson of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich, was declared Emperor John VI. Duke Biron of Kurland was appointed warden to the baby emperor.

However, John VI did not stay emperor long. A total of 404 days later, Yelizaveta Petrovna, the daughter of Peter the Great, seized power in a coup and the family of John VI was exiled to Kholmogory.

Baby John was separated from his parents and lived alone in Kholmogory for 12 years before being taken to Shlisselburg in early 1756.

At the age of 16, John (Ioann Atonovich) was placed in a solitary cell in the Schlisselburg Fortress for fear of his repeated enthronement. In 1764, Lieutenant Vasily Mirovich made an attempt to free the young man, but John VI was stabbed by his guards in the process. His body taken in an unknown direction.


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