Does the Russian Imperial House seek the return of properties seized by the Bolsheviks after the Revolution of 1917?
The position of the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, the Head of the House of Romanoff today, is exactly the same as that taken by her father, Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich, and her grandfather, Emperor de jure Kirill Wladimirovich: the Russian Imperial House does not seek the return of properties confiscated by the Bolsheviks after the Revolution of 1917. The Grand Duchess’s view on this question has been stated clearly and explicitly in numerous interviews and public statements. For example, in an interview the Grand Duchess gave to Izvestiia, published on April 10, 2014, she stated:
“As far as property is concerned, I have many times publically and officially voiced our consistent position. The Russian Imperial House is in principle against the restitution of property and makes no claims on any property whatsoever. We are very pleased that residences and properties, which were constructed and owned by our ancestors before the Revolution, today serve the public interest, and we ask nothing for ourselves.”
In an interview published in Rossiiskaia gazetta on March 15, 2007, the Grand Duchess was asked: “In the many interviews that you and your son, Grand Duke George of Russia, have given, you have stated repeatedly that you are not interested in the restoration of Romanov properties. Why do you believe that the restitution of properties in Russia is in principle not necessary?” Grand Duchess Maria replied:
“I do not think that the restitution of properties in Russia is possible or even desirable. Attempts to do so would require such a large-scale redistribution of property in Russia that it would be quite damaging to civil society to even try. Putting first always the interests of the nation over my own, I am in principle totally against restitution.”
The Grand Duchess made exactly the same statement during her visit to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on February 18, 2011. In a meeting with justices and the Court’s staff members, the Grand Duchess was asked about the restitution of Romanoff properties and how that might be accomplished legally. The Grand Duchess replied with complete clarity and consistency that she is against any sort of restitution, and that she has never in the past asked for anything and never will. “My first and only priority is civil peace in our country,” the Grand Duchess emphasized.
The Grand Duchess has likewise made clear that her position on the restoration of properties would remain the same even if conditions were such that the Russian Imperial House was to return to live permanently in Russia. She and her Chancellery have stated numerous times that the Russian Imperial House would be open to taking possession of a currently unused and unrestored building for use as a residence and office, but that all renovations and upkeep costs must be covered entirely by private donations, not state funds. The Grand Duchess has unequivocally stated that the restoration of properties to the Romanoffs is not a pre-condition for her return, though there are other conditions she has stipulated, including, most importantly the recognition by the state of the status of the Imperial House as an historical institution.