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Rasputins Notoriety Dismays Relative

Published: September 6, 2005 (Issue # 1102)


He is either demonized or deified and my mission is to try and make his image look more human, more normal, if you like, says Laurence Huot-Solovieff, 62, one of the four great-grandchildren of Grigory Rasputin to come from his legal marriage, and the only of his surviving descendants to have traveled to Russia.

Interviewed in St. Petersburgs Astoria hotel on Monday, Huot-Solovieff, who grew up in France, put the wild-eyed mystic who some felt ruled the country during World War I in a positive light.

Rasputin had gained the confidence of Tsarina Alexandra because he could soothe the ailing Tsarevich Alexis. This ability gained him access to and influence with the family of the last tsar, Nicholas II.

It also generated hatred among courtiers, who plotted his demise and eventually murdered him.

On this, her fifth trip to Russia since she first visited in 1992, Rasputins great granddaughter traveled for the first time to her notorious ancestors home village of Pokrovskoye in Siberia.

It is only now that I have been there that things finally came together with what my grandmother was telling me about him: I have heard the locals call him a simple man with big heart and strong spiritual power, who loved Russia, the God and the tsar, Huot-Solovieff said. This was exactly what I was told at home by my grandmother Matryona.

Matryona, a dancer with the Barnum circus, was the only descendant of the doomed man to use his family name. It helped boost her artistic career in Los Angeles.

I dont think it would be a right thing for us to use his name now and in our circumstance: I find it too provocative, Huot-Solovieff said. There is too much hatred of his name and too many people would see red if they heard it.

Rasputins name is surrounded by numerous myths, legends and speculations. International experts still debate his healing powers and political weight, producing controversial reports.

Huot-Solovieff has never questioned that Rasputin had the power of healing. If he was no help to tsarevich Alexei to cure his hemophilia, he would have never been able to be so welcomed by the tsar, she said. This is pure logic but there is also enough evidence.

Huot-Solovieff feels very close to St. Petersburg, but said some places are too painful for her to visit.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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