I had intended blogging about the football stadium in Yekaterinburg tonight but can’t really be bothered to be honest.

I mean, no sooner has the Footie Cup been won by those tri-coloured-folk French-speaking folk on the continent than the Times, in a so-called page 25 ‘leading article’ bemoans the death of some blue-blooded murdering tyrant from almost a century ago.

For those not in the know, Yekaterinburg was the last living-place on the planet for those somewhat despised Tsarist folk who got put to death on July 17 1918. That’s 100 years ago tomorrow to you and me.

The town’s footie-stadium has of course played a major part in the World Cup. I may be wrong, but a few matches were probably played not that far from the place where, according to the Times, a ‘Wholesale Butchery by Bolsheviks’ took place. Seemingly folk in Russia, having lost the cup, are now mourning the regicide of Tsar Nicholas II and his Victorian family.

“As the cheers fade in the stadium and Moscow basks in the glow of a joyous and well-run World Cup” reads the Times leader, “many Russians are looking back a century to a far darker moment in history. In the early hours of July 17, a group of soldiers burst into the cellar of a merchant’s house in Yekaterinburg and opened fire on Nicholas, his wife Alexandria, their four daughters, their sickly son Alexei and four other attendants including their doctor.” Those who survived the initial onslaught were unlucky in the extreme since bullets seemingly ricocheted from diamonds sewn into the girl’s dresses and the ‘murderers bayoneted to death any still living’.

All well and good then.

In the course of penning an article on Ballater some years ago, I recall coming across an account in the Aberdeen Free Press. Describing a visit of said Tsar to Aberdeen and then on to Balmoral – his wife Alexandria was Victoria’s daughter, the editorials of 1896 recorded that the “heavens opened as in tears” when the Tsar alighted from the royal train at Ballater Station and a drenched guard of 100 men of the Black Watch stationed at the towns Victoria Barracks, stood to attention in torrential rain to welcome the man whom the Aberdeen Council of the time seemingly loved to hate.”

Sabre wielding mounted cavalry accompanied the royal coach on its journey north from Ballater Railway Station then on to Balmoral, the government of the time fearing an assassination attempt which might lead to war with Russia.

Leon Trotsky would later refer to the Tsar as “more awful than all the tyrants of ancient and modern history” so the council may not have been too far out in their health and safety assessment.

Aberdeen’s Bon Accord magazine reported “When the Tsar is at home we do not hesitate to call him a tyrant. Then in heavens name, why then, when he visits his grand-mother-in-law should we play the hypocrite and fete he whom we at other times curse.”
Some years later the locals at Yekaterinburg agreed and shot the man dead along with his family including Alexandra who had in fact been well liked in Ballater. A sad end indeed.

The tyrannical Tsar is now, according to today’s ‘The Times in Scotland’, a lost blue-blooded hero mourned by his latter-day subjects who have seemingly taken a post-communist Putin-style stance against regicide.

Yeah right.


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