An influential Russian Bishop has prompted investigators to consider whether “ritual killing” was behind the death of the Tsar.
Bishop Tikhon, who is rumoured to be a personal spiritual advisor to Vladimir Putin, told a conference that was attended by top Russian intelligence agents that they should investigate whether the Tsar’s death was a “ritual killing”, a claim that clearly mirrors medieval blood libel.
Hardliners in the Russian Orthodox Church have long claimed that the Tsar’s death was a “Jewish” ritual murder. Father Chaplin, formerly a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, once commented that “many people in today’s church believe the tsar was killed by Jews”.
Tikhon’s comments to the attendees at the conference made no explicit reference to the “ritual killing” being carried out by Jews, but Jewish groups have criticised him for reinvigorating a long-standing piece of antisemitic rhetoric, and lending credence to those who genuinely advocate the idea that Jews killed Nicholas II. Alexander Boroda, head of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia, said that the “accusation against Jews of involvement in ritual murders is one of the most ancient forms of antisemitic slander”. Accusations of Jews carrying out ritual murder have been used to incite violence against Jews, particularly in medieval Europe, and are known as “blood libel”.
The investigation into the deaths of Nicholas II and his family was reopened after pressure from the Church, who considers him a saint, in 2015.