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  • Shania George

The Mystic Behind the Soviet Union

The formation of the Soviet Union marked the beginning of one of the most gruesome dictatorships in world history. The establishment of the Soviet Union can be credited to Vladimir Lenin, but according to Provisional Government leader Alexander Kerensky, who in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution said, “Without Rasputin, there would have been no Lenin.” Wait a minute, who is this mysterious figure? And how does he play a role in the Russian Revolution?

Grigori Rasputin, a man who claimed to be linked to the destiny of the imperial family and the Russian Empire, was a self-proclaimed holy man who advised the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, and his wife Alexandra in the treatment of their son Alexei who suffered from type B haemophilia. Originally a peasant born in 1869 he spent a month at an Orthodox Christian monastery, after which he started going on pilgrimages across Russia, which led people to believe that he could heal the sick and predict the future. His passion for religion and charisma came to the attention of the Orthodox Clergymen and then senior members of the royal family, who in turn introduced him to the Tsar and Tsarina (Emperor and Empress in Russian).

The pivotal moment that cemented the royal family in his favour occurred in 1908 when Alexei was suffering from one of his bleeding episodes. Tsarina Alexandra called for Rasputin to pray for her son since the situation was quite grave. According to the maids in the room at that time, Rasputin used his hypnotism to stop the bleeding and he ordered that the doctors should be kept away from the child and that the medicines they prescribed be thrown away. This miraculously improved Alexei’s condition. Modern scientists and historians can say this was due to two reasons. Firstly, Alexandra’s constant worry and anxiety might have worried the child and prevented him from getting better on his own. The medicines that he asked to throw away were most likely Aspirin, which at that time was used as a wonder medicine for all ailments. Since we now know that it has blood-thinning properties, it presumably caused his condition to exacerbate.

From that moment on, Rasputin was a regular in the court of the Tsar, even being the personal adviser to Tsarina Alexandra when her husband had gone to lead his army during World War 1. This did sit well with nobles who felt that an uneducated man was going to bring the doom of Imperialism to Russia. They were right, but not in the way they imagined.

Getting tired after the multiple (failed) attempts to dispose of Rasputin, Felix Yussupov (the husband of the Tsar’s niece) invited the ‘Mad Monk’ to his house and offered him a platter of cakes, which was said to be laced with potassium cyanide. According to popular myth, Rasputin ate the cakes with no effect on him. Driven by desperation, Vladimir Purishkevich, a co-conspirator, shoots Rasputin in the forehead at close range, and they together drown him in the Neva River. This telling of events can even be seen in the 1970’s hit, Rasputin by Boney M. showing its popularity across history.

Instead of stabilizing the empire, Rasputin’s death caused outrage among the peasantry, who considered him one of their own. This led to the Bolshevik Revolution, led by Vladimir Lenin who had the royal family killed, just like the nobles feared.

The story of Grigori Rasputin is quite intriguing, and it makes me wonder, did mystics like this actually exist at some point? Everything that Rasputin predicted, advised, the miracle of his surviving, being poisoned by potassium cyanide, is nothing short of magic. Well, is it magic, or simply mischief?

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