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Rasputin’s 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. Petersburg’s 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, Rasputin’s great granddaughter traveled for the first time to her notorious ancestor’s 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 don’t 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.”

Rasputin’s 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

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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