Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Murder That Sparked a Revolution

His finger was on the trigger.
She was the lure.

Princess Irina Alexandrovna, the beautiful niece of the Russian Tsar, was not yet nineteen when she married one of the richest men in Russia, Felix Yusupov.  The two were honeymooning when World War I broke out.  Detained by Kaiser Wilhelm II, they had to pull strings in Berlin to get back into Russia, now at war with Germany.

The war could not have gone worse for Russia, which suffered from shortages of food and equipment--and from the indecisive leadership of the monarch, Nicholas II.  The Tsar listened less to his ministers than to his German-born wife, Alexandra, who in turn had come under the influence of a faith-healer, Grigori Rasputin.  By December 1916 Rasputin had become a lightning rod for widespread criticism of an isolated and insensitive autocracy.  Even members of the Imperial family felt that it was time for him to go.

Yusupov was among a core of conspirators who hatched a plan to assassinate Rasputin.  The problem was drawing Rasputin away from the protection of his home and his followers.  The solution:  offering him a late-night introduction to Irina, whom he had never met.

For the peasant courtier from Siberia, it was Goodnight, Irene.

Rasputin:  poison and bullets were not enough.

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