After decades of disputes over the authenticity of remains believed to be those of Russia’s former imperial family, who were murdered by Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1918, the Russian Orthodox Church has concluded a new six-year investigation into the matter, and will issue an official decision later this year.
On Thursday, the Church published a report from a commission set up in 2015, explaining that it had renewed its inquiries into the bodies’ identities due to fresh scientific advances, and that analysis had revealed a match between one skeleton, thought to be that of murdered Tsar Nicholas II, and DNA samples taken from his father, Alexander III.
“Science does not stand in place,” the report states. “During the three decades since the first expert analysis, there have been new possibilities and methods of scientific study. For example, there has been a qualitative leap forwards in genetics, which has allowed scientists to speak with confidence on things that had previously only been hypotheses.”
Among the findings that the report summarizes, the commission compared samples from the bones said to belong to Nicholas II with DNA taken from the remains of his father, Alexander III, and found that the likelihood of paternity was 99.9999988%.