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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

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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