Rasputin, Grigori Yefimovich răspyo͞o´tĭn, Rus. grĭgô´rē yĭfē´məvĭch rəspo͞o´tyĭn [key]
, 1869–1916, Russian holy man and courtier, a notorious figure at the court of Czar Nicholas II
. He was a semiliterate peasant and debauchee who preached and practiced a doctrine of salvation that mixed religious fervor with sexual indulgence. Because of his personal magnetism and his ability to check the bleeding of the czarevich Alexis, who suffered from hemophilia
, Rasputin gained a powerful hold over Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna
and, through her, over the czar, and from 1911 Rasputin's appointees began to fill high positions. Rasputin never had a clear political program, but unscrupulous and reactionary officials, financiers, and ecclesiastics profited through his influence. During World War I, when the czar went (1915) to the front, Rasputin's influence predominated. Those who opposed him were often removed from their posts; fortune hunters and incompetents were appointed to replace them. Rasputin's disgraceful behavior, the czarina's attempts to shield him, and a series of scandals involving his appointees helped to undermine the imperial government. Suspecting that Rasputin and the czarina were working for a separate peace with Germany, a group of right-wing patriots, including Prince Felix Yussupov and the czar's cousin, Grand Duke Dmitri, conspired in Dec., 1916, to assassinate Rasputin. A generous dose of poison failed to produce any visible effect, and the terrified conspirators riddled him with bullets and threw his body into the frozen Neva River. Later buried, Rasputin's corpse was exhumed and burned by the mob during the February Revolution of 1917.
See biographies by Prince F. F. Yussupov (1927), R. Fülöp-Miller (tr. 1928), and D. Smith (2016); studies by M. V. Rodzianko (tr. 1927 and 1973) and E. Radzinsky (tr. 2000).
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