2005-09-11 04:30:41 UTC
the Erotic Museum mentioned in the article, I've actually seen a photo
of the item claimed to be Rasputin's and.... Yikes.
"Rasputin's Notoriety Dismays Relative
By Galina Stolyarova
"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
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
Huot-Solovieff feels very close to St. Petersburg, but said some places
are too painful for her to visit.
She will no longer visit Rasputin's former apartment on Gorokhovaya
Ulitsa. "I can't bear seeing how people make money out of his
tragic fate, it is too sad and too upsetting," she said, referring to
the tenants, who charge an entry fee to the apartment.
In St. Petersburg, the Rasputin connection, as well as speculation
around it, stretches from sublime to ridiculous.
Huot-Solovieff has not visited and has no plans to visit the Erotic
Museum of the Prostatology Center, whose director Igor Knyazkin claims
to have Rasputin's sex organ preserved in a jar.
"I have seen men's private parts before, and I don't care if it
is original or not," she said. "As for the idea of cutting out
genitalia and putting it on display, human greed is no surprise to me
either. I have seen people do worse for money."
During Huot-Solovieff's childhood, she and her two brothers heard no
mention at home of Russia, let alone the name of Grigory Rasputin.
Huot-Solovieff discovered she had Russian ancestry from a friend at the
age of 12.
"Your mother's name is Tatyana, then you must be Russian, she told
me, and then advised to watch out for Bolsheviks," she recalled.
"Our mother wanted to protect us from the burden of the knowledge,
but I have eventually learned who my ancestor was, and I am happy to
"I never hide from truth; I am not the kind of person who would
prefer not to know if they have cancer," she said. "I always face
the truth and learn to deal with it."
For Huot-Solovieff, the Yusupov Palace, where Count Felix Yusupov
attempted to poison and then shot Rasputin, is a difficult place.
Looking at a wax figure of her ancestor doesn't help her know him
better, she said.
"I don't like reconstructions of any kind for one simple reason -
they are fake," she said. "It doesn't give me much."
Huot-Solovieff said she often asks herself why Rasputin was murdered
and why his name is still surrounded with myths and speculations. Her
answer is that he was a very convenient scapegoat.
"He was an extraordinary man who clearly possessed what we now called
supernatural powers," she said. "It was easy and convenient for
weaker and cowardly men to accuse him of all sins imaginable."
This view is shared by Olga Utochkina, a historian and senior
researcher with the Yusupov Palace, who has studied Rasputin for 17
years. She describes the man as a victim of black PR.
"Various forces had various reasons to make him look low and
unworthy, and made every effort to compromise him," Utochkina said
Monday in a telephone interview. "By contrast, in Rasputin's home
village of Pokrovskoye he is very fondly remembered, and nobody speaks
of him as a drunkard, horse-thief or profligate."
Rasputin's descendants in France don't own any documents that might
shed more light on Rasputin as a historical figure.
Huot-Solovieff doesn't rely on archival material and uses an easy
conversational vocabulary telling human stories she once heard at home
from her grandmother.
"She once said the family had a room with a big table piled with
fruit and all kind of food for the guests at any time, should they
come," Huot-Solovieff said. "I asked her, amazed, how they could
have had that when so many people were starving.
"And then she told me that Grigory taught all his children to never
leave the house with empty pockets but to always have something in them
to give to the poor. He can't be as bad as he is often portrayed."
Rasputin's drinking habits and alleged infidelity to his wife do not
make him a beast. "He started drinking because he was upset by the
war but very few people wouldn't," she said. "If he was
unfaithful to his wife, it is much too common to turn it into something
Utochkina admitted little is known about the real Rasputin. "All
available information has to be re-assessed, new diggings done, more
evidence considered and the legends put aside," she said. "Then we
will be much closer to the truth." "