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The Supreme Court upheld on Thursday a ruling by top prosecutors
The Supreme Court upheld on Thursday a ruling by top prosecutors refusing to exonerate Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family.

The Prosecutor General's Office has twice rejected demands from the Russian Imperial House in exile that the Romanov family be recognized as victims of political repression, saying they never faced any formal charges before being executed by Bolsheviks near the Urals city of Yekaterinburg in 1918.

"The court has ruled that the Romanovs are not eligible for exoneration," the Supreme Court said.

Speaking at a court session, a Prosecutor General's Office spokesperson, Inessa Kovalevskaya, said prosecutors considered the killing of the Romanovs to be abuse of office by regional authorities - the main finding of the five-year-long investigation launched in 1993.

She said investigators had studied a large volume of letters, telegrams and witness testimonies in the case, none of which can be used as a substitute for a court verdict, which could be annulled.

"The material gathered by investigators showed that no formal decision was made to shoot the Romanovs," she said.

The Russian Imperial House in exile, headed by Grand Duchess Maria Romanov, insists the killings were a state-sponsored execution rather than murder.

Debate continues as to whether the death sentence for the tsar was a direct order from Vladimir Lenin in Moscow, or carried out on the initiative of Bolsheviks in the Urals. It also remains unknown whether the execution order was for Nicholas II alone or for the entire family.

Lawyer German Lukyanov, acting for the tsar's descendants, said at the court session that a decision to execute the Romanovs adopted by the Urals authorities would have been tantamount to a court ruling on execution.

"The Bolsheviks are known to have delegated extensive powers, including judicial, to local Soviets [authorities], and the Urals leaders' decision is therefore tantamount to a court decision," Lukyanov said.

He also said Bolsheviks in the Urals had sent a telegram to Lenin reporting to him on the execution of Nicholas II, who they accused of major crimes against the country.

The Supreme Court backed the prosecution's position.

Lukyanov said he would appeal the ruling with the supervisory board of the Supreme Court and international institutions.

The remains of Nicholas II were reburied with honors in 1998 in the former imperial capital, St. Petersburg. The Russian Orthodox Church canonized him, his wife and four daughters and son two years later.

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