Russia has an official legal and judicial process by which people convicted of political crimes during the Soviet era can be rehabilitated. A move was made to do this for Czar Nicholas II and his family, but the Russian court initially ruled that they were ineligible on the ground that they’d been convicted on criminal charges. But now they’ve reversed course:
ussia’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of full rehabilitation for Russia’s last czar, Nicholas II, and his family, officially recognizing the executed royals as victims of Soviet repression 90 years after their deaths.
Now obviously I can’t see any justification whatsoever for killing the Czar’s children. And I’ve come around to the view that the death penalty is wrong and therefore you can’t really justify putting Czar Nicholas himself to death. But operating under the assumption that it’s ever right to execute someone for their crimes, I have to say that I don’t have a ton of sympathy for this idea of rehabilitating the Czar. Having Josef Stalin as one of your successors has a way of making anyone look good, but I don’t think it’s all that reasonable to judge Nicholas on such a steep curve. At the end of the day, Czarist Russia was not a pleasant place. Indeed, one reason that many in the west initially underestimated how bad Communist Russia was is precisely that under the Czars Russia was already a byword for tyranny and repression. Meanwhile, it’s not as if the “we should depose the Czar” concept was an idiosyncratic notion of the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks came to power by overthrowing a broad-based interim regime that had already — and quite rightly — overthrown the Czar.