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Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin (22 January [O.S. 10 January] 1869 - 29 or 30 December [O.S. 16 December] 1916) was an infamous Russian "holy man". A peasant by birth, he later became the advisor of Tsarina Alexandra and the Romanov imperial family.
Some saw Rasputin as a holy man from God who could perform miracles. Others saw him as a fraud and a sexual maniac. Although he was not officially part of the Russian Orthodox Church, many did believe he was a prophet and he impressed many people with his knowledge and ability to explain the Bible in an uncomplicated way.
Rasputin was born in the small village of Pokrovskoye, along the Tura River on the west Siberian plain. Little is known about his childhood but he did have a sister called Maria and a brother called Dmitri who both died in childhood.
Alexei Nikolaevich was the only son of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his wife Tsarina Alexandra. From an early age, the boy suffered from haemophilia, a disease which he inherited from his mother the Tsarina. Alexei suffered a great deal of pain as a result of his haemophilia and doctors even predicted that he would soon die. At the time, Rasputin was wandering as a pilgrim in Siberia and was contacted about Alexei's condition through Anna Vyrubova, a friend of the Tsarina. Rasputin managed to "save" Alexei from his predicted death and release some of the pain afflicting the boy. It was said he helped Alexei through prayer, although others said he did this through hypnosis, which can actually help to relieve pain. However, it was clear that, unlike his predecessors, he was able to help the child.
Having proven his "holy powers" to Tsarina Alexandra, Rasputin did not remain just the healer for Alexei, Rasputin soon became the confidante and personal advisor of Alexandra. To the aristocrats, having a peasant advising the Tsarina, who in turn held a great deal of influence over the Tsar, was simply unacceptable. In addition, Rasputin was a lover of alcohol and sex, both of which he enjoyed to excess. Though Rasputin appeared a pious and saintly holy man in front of the imperial couple, others saw him as a dirty, sex-craved peasant who was ruining Russia and the monarchy. It did not help that Rasputin was having sex with women in high society in exchange for granting political favors. Nor that many in Russia believed Rasputin and the Tsarina were in a romantic relationship and wanted to make peace with Germany, which was Russia's enemy.
Prince Felix Yusupov, husband of one of the Tsar's nieces, considered Rasputin an enemy and wanted him dead. Vladimir Purishkevicha, member of the Russian Duma, also disliked him among with many other important Russians.
As Russia began losing battles during the First World War, the Tsar himself took command of the army and left his wife the Tsarina in charge of the country. Many Russians diskliked having the Tsarina in charge of them as she was a German and Rasputin, who was her advisor, could make her enforce his own laws or changes. Among those wanting to kill Rasputin was Grand Duke Pavlovich.
Prince Felix invited Rasputin for a meal at his home on the night of December 16-17, 1916. As an incentive to make him attend, Rasputin was told that Felix's attractive wife would be there. Rasputin was given poisoned food and drinks but he remarkably digested the poisoned food and drink which was supposed to kill him. He was later shot several times, and was pronouned dead. However Felix wanted to be sure, he looked over the body and felt it, it was warm. The dead body of Rasputin opened an eye and he got up and attacked Felix, who was shouting for help. Rasputin ran outside yelling to Felix that he would tell the Tsarina but was again shot.
Later Rasputin, who had been shot but was still alive, was wrapped in a rug and thrown into the Malaya Nevka river. The water was very frosty and cold so his killers thought it should kill him for sure. When he was found later on, Rasputin was dead. At the age of 47 the peasent "holy man" was at last dead, however there was still mystery, when his body was examined it was revealled that he was still alive for several hours when thrown into the frozen river, he even had enough strengh to untie the ropes which were tied on his arms.
Prince Felix was exiled. Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich was sent to Persia to fight in the war. Both survived the revolution and the war.
The death of Rasputin did not save the Romanov dynasty. Revolution would come in 1917. Soon after, Nicholas II and his family were exiled to Siberia and later murdered.