Telegrams received in Paris from Petrograd allege that the notorious Monk Rasputin, whose body has just been recovered from the Neva, was murdered by the younger Prince Yussupoff, a nephew by marriage of the Tsar.
According to this morning’s newspapers the tragedy appears to have been enacted on Saturday morning at the Yussupoff Palace, on the Moika. It was early on Saturday morning that a mysterious motor-car is reported to have been seen on the Petrovsky Island. The police thereupon yesterday examined the river near the Petrovsky Bridge and discovered a newly cut ice-hole, whence stretched human footprints in various directions in the snow. Near the bank was found a man’s golosh stained with suspicious marks. Divers were requisitioned to examine the bottom of the river, with the result that the body of Rasputin was discovered.
According to today’s accounts, the police found traces of blood in the snow in the Palace garden. On demanding an explanation from the servants the police were informed that a mad dog had just been shot. In corroboration of this statement the dead body of a dog was produced. The animal’s body and a lump of bloodstained snow were removed for examination.
The young Prince Yussupoff, who after the events of this weekend has left Petrograd for his Crimean estates, has returned to the capital.
The monk Rasputin, like another notorious character the Moroccan chieftain Raisuli, had many lives. He had been reported dead, perhaps only because it was known that he had many enemies and might be attacked at any moment; and just before the war broke out he was stabbed by a woman and only just escaped with his life.
There seems to be reason to believe now that he has been murdered, though it is curious how little information has yet been allowed to come through about the end of the most notorious man in Russia. Possibly the censorship which at one time forbade the discussion of him in the Russian press is anxious not to have the full glare of publicity cast on the manner of his death.
He was in his way a remarkable man, for no one could gain and keep the position of influence which he held without certain qualities of audacity and determination. But we need not exaggerate his powers because of the strange heights to which he climbed. He was one of those domineering men who with an affectation of religious devotion and mystic piety acquire an extraordinary power over the weak-willed and the superstitious.
Some of the accounts speak of magnetism and hypnotic power as among his attributes. The explanation is not necessary. What happened was that whereas the influence of other such men is usually exercised in humbler spheres he established himself in the highest quarters in the land. But as soon as he was there he had many helpers to assure his position, for all the place-hunters, male and female, flocked to the doors of one who was so close to the ear of the most powerful.
Of the strength of his position there was no doubt, and probably the suggestion of hypnotism and the rest was made to explain the persistence with which he held his ground despite his notoriously evil life, his gross interferences in the government of the Church, and the public attacks made on him in the Duma and elsewhere.
Few men so well known have had so little good said of them, and if a fraction of what has been said against him should be true Russia will be a better place without him.