Ekaterinburg remains

Romanov Family Association Spokesperson Ivan Artsyshevsky Insults Church, Imperial House

Ivan Artsishevsky, who styles himself "Director of the Romanov Family Association in Russia," granted an interview on 10 July to "Interfax," which was then distributed by various Russian press organizations.  In it, Artsishevsky made statements insulting the patriarch and the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, prompting a quick response from the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House.

Artsishevsky, who worked in the Leningrad Department of Goskominturist as the head of the Information Group and head of the Additional Services Group, became associated with the Romanov Family Association in the 1990's and has been their spokesperson and public face in Russia for many years, as none of the RFA members are resident in Russia or visit Russia regularly.  He is particularly active since the death of Dimitri Romanovich Romanoff early this year, because none of the active RFA members speaks Russian except for the 94-year-old Andrei Andreievich Romanoff, an American citizen who lives in California.  In the interview Artsishevsky stated:

"The patriarch had a meeting in June, during which all the experts present confirmed that the remains are genuine. The church is silent now, and it is difficult to understand why it remains silent."

"If this question is political, I do not understand what the politics are. We are unable to show a film [ed. note; the new film 'Matilda'] because it shows Nicholas II making out [with his mistress], but everyone remains silent about the fact that his children yet lie unburied,." 

The complicated theological, historical, and scientific issues concerning these identifications are well known, and the Orthodox Church has been extremely open in their discussions concerning these debates, with frequent announcements by Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov) and Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev).  If impugning the judgements and practice of the Patriarch and the senior hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad were not enough, Artsishevsky additionally chose to attack the Head of the Russian Imperial House, the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, referring to the Russian Imperial House as an "illegitimate organization":

"The Madrid House of Romanov does not exist, it's an absolutely illegitimate organization. If the Russian Orthodox Church works with an illegitimate organization, it's a problem of the Russian Orthodox Church. The whole world recognizes the real Romanovs [presumably, The Romanov Family Association], and the Church decides its own way. But as an Orthodox Christian, I can distinguish between the Church of Christ and a throng of bishops," 

The Russian Imperial House responded with a quick and measured statement, calling for members of the RFA to offer a rebuttal to this senseless criticism of the Church and unfounded attack against their relative:

The Chancellery of the Imperial House of Russia was, however, puzzled and perplexed to learn from reports in the media that a representative of “The Romanov Family Association,” Mr. I. Artsishevsky, had issued a statement on behalf of the “Romanov family” that called into question the position of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

Earlier, the Chancellery of the Imperial House of Russia had expressed the hope that the anti-Church pronouncements from Mr. Artsishevsky on behalf of this organization would cease, especially after the meeting between the Acting President of the “Romanov Family Association,” Mr. Dmitry R. Romanov, and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, which took place before Mr. Romanov’s death on December 31, 2016. Unfortunately, the pronouncements have not ceased. 

As for the recent highly political and anti-Church statements issued by Mr. Artsishevsky, it remains to be seen if the “Romanov Family Association” (of which Mr. Artsishevsky claims to be a representative) will issue a rebuttal. But if no rebuttal is issued, and if Mr. Artsishevsky remains in his position as an official representative of the organization, then we must conclude that the “Romanov Family Association” is endorsing this anti-Church position and so must bear full responsibility for the words and actions of those who have joined themselves to campaigns against the Russian Orthodox Church. 

In any event, neither statements like those from Mr. Artsishevsky nor the private opinions of some descendants of members of the Romanoff dynasty in any way reflect the views of the Russian Imperial House of Romanoff.

It is impossible to reconcile Artsishevsky's harsh words and slanderous accusations with the non-political, kind, and conciliatory remarks made recently by H.S.H. Prince Dmitri Pavlovich Romanoff Ilyinsky at the annual ball associated with the Russian Nobility Association in America.  It would appear that Artsishevsky has either overstepped his authority as a representative, or that the Romanov Family Association is divided between those who seek peace, and those who choose to keep old and irrelevant grudges alive.

It appears that Artsishevsky delights in any controversy or conflict that enhances his individual importance and therefore seeks vulgar publicity of any kind -- even if that publicity brings embarrassment and criticism to those he claims to serve with honor. As Artsishevsky is both an employee of the Romanov Family Association as well as the head of a for-profit "Etiquette School" in Saint Petersburg, one might think he would behave in a more dignified manner.