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Summary Article: Rasputin, Grigori Yefimovich from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(răspyu'tĭn, Rus. grĭgô'rē yĭfē'məvĭch rəspu'tyĭn), 1872–1916, Russian "holy man," a notorious figure at the court of Czar Nicholas II. He was a semiliterate peasant and debauchee who preached and practiced a doctrine of salvation that mixed religious fervor with sexual indulgence. Because of his personal magnetism and his ability to check the bleeding of the czarevich Alexis, who suffered from hemophilia, Rasputin gained a powerful hold over Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna and, through her, over the czar. Starting in 1911, Rasputin's appointees began to fill high positions. Rasputin never had a clear political program, but unscrupulous and reactionary officials, financiers, and ecclesiastics profited through his influence. During World War I, when the czar went (1915) to the front, Rasputin's influence predominated. Those who opposed him were often removed from their posts; fortune hunters and incompetents were appointed to replace them. Rasputin's disgraceful behavior, the czarina's attempts to shield him, and a series of scandals involving his appointees helped to undermine the imperial government. It was suspected at the time that Rasputin and the czarina were working for a separate peace with Germany. In Dec., 1916, a group of right-wing patriots, including Prince Felix Yussupov and the czar's cousin, Grand Duke Dmitri, conspired to assassinate Rasputin. A generous dose of poison failed to produce any visible effect, and the terrified conspirators riddled him with bullets and threw his body into the frozen Neva River. Later buried, Rasputin's corpse was exhumed and burned by the mob during the February Revolution of 1917.

  • See study by M. V. Rodzianko (tr. 1927 and 1973) and E. Radzinsky (tr. 2000);.
  • biographies by Prince F. F. Yussupov (1927) and R. Fülöp-Miller (tr. 1928).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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