Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 87

The grand old man of Russian letters, Academician Dmitry Likhachev, has addressed an open letter to President Boris Yeltsin. Likhachev is concerned about rumors that members of the presidential administration are drafting legislation to establish a constitutional monarchy in Russia and the accession to the throne of the great-grandson of Grand Duke Kirill Romanov (distant relation to Russia’s last tsar Nicholas II and head of the closest surviving branch of the royal family). (Itar-Tass, April 21) Advocates of the move see it as a way to consolidate Russia’s polarized society and argue that Grand Duke Kirill’s great-grandson, the 16-year-old Georgy Hohenzollern, has a rightful claim to the throne.

Likhachev makes it clear that he thinks this idea is absurd, as do most other observers. But Likhachev has apparently taken the rumors seriously enough to write to Yeltsin about them. He has heard that descendants of the late Grand Duke have established good contacts with members of the presidential administration and even Yeltsin personally. Likhachev has also met with them, and makes it clear in his letter that he does not feel them to be suitable candidates for the throne. In his letter, therefore, Likhachev stresses that Grand Duke Kirill forfeited his right to the throne when he married a cousin (which was prohibited by Russian imperial laws on consanguinity) and that Georgy’s grandfather married a divorcee. This too, Likhachev points out, disqualifies him from the right to succession under Russia’s pre-revolutionary rules.

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