Tsarist riddle nears its end

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Some of the remains of Tsar Nicholas II and his family, murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918, were brought to Moscow for authenticity tests yesterday.

The bones were taken to a research institute which was expected to complete tests by 15 January and to deliver a report to the government the same day.

President Boris Yeltsin last month ordered the bones to be transferred from Ekaterinburg, where Nicholas II, his wife and children were shot, for final identification before reburial.

Scientists in Russia and abroad have agreed after conducting DNA tests that the remains, found outside Ekaterinburg, belong to Nicholas and his family.

But the Russian Orthodox Church raised doubts about their authenticity. The decision to send the bones to Moscow for final testing has caused controversy. Officials in Ekaterinburg protested because they fear they might never be returned.

Authorities in Moscow, St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg are contesting the right to bury the remains in their cities and see this as a way to boost their standing.

Reuters - Moscow