DID THIS DAPPER BRITISH SPY KILL RASPUTIN; Bludgeoned,poisoned and Shot Three Times before He Died, History Tells How the Mad Russian Monk Rasputin Was Murdered Because of His Hold over the Tsarina.But a New Book Poses the Intriguing Question
Byline: CHRISTOPHER HUDSON
WHEN police armed with crowbars smashed the creaking ice on the frozen River Neva in St Petersburg, and hauled out the frozen, mutilated corpse of Rasputin, it appeared that he did after all have supernatural powers.
He had been poisoned with cyanide, battered with a dumbbell, shot in the chest, back and head, bound with a cord and wrapped in cloth before being thrown through a hole in the ice.
Yet despite all the attempts to kill him, this semiliterate peasant mystic, who in 1916 was virtually dictating the fate of Russia, seemed to have recovered consciousness under the water and fought for survival.
Grisly photographs of his body show him with upraised arms as if struggling to loosen his fetters. And this was how he was carried on a sledge through the city, as if cursing it with his final breath.
Ever since that day, almost 90 years ago, Grigori Rasputin's fight for life has embellished the myths around this extraordinary healer, whose influence over Tsar Nicholas and his wife Alexandra was incalculable.
However, new evidence has now been uncovered by a historian, Andrew Cook, which indicates that Rasputin was stone dead before he hit the icy water - and that the coup de grace was very probably delivered by an officer in British intelligence.
No historian has ever before publicly suggested that the British killed Rasputin. The truth about his death has long been shrouded in the myth of his near-immortality and the mystery that resulted from the Russian authorities hushing it up.
But Cook bases his startling revelations on forensic research in both British and Russian archives. He argues forcefully that the bullet that felled Rasputin was British-made and could only have come from a British gun.
He goes on to name the secret agent who allegedly killed him - and points out that he was a longstanding friend of the man in whose home Rasputin died.
He also names the agent's immediate British co-conspirators and Russian accomplices. But most astonishing of all is his suggestion that the future Prime Minister of Britain, David Lloyd George, and the country's most famous soldier, Lord Kitchener, could have been behind the plot to murder Rasputin.
A LOT of people had wanted Rasputin dead: 1916 was a time of crisis, with Russia fighting Germany in World War I and suffering unimaginable losses.
Powerful forces in Moscow and StPetersburg, sensing revolution in the air, were scheming to depose the reactionary Tsar and his Germanborn Tsarina and replace them with other members of the Royal Family who were more in sympathy with the mood of the common people.
And, increasingly, with his inexplicable hold over Nicholas and Alexandra, Rasputin was seen as the cause of the disaster engulfing the country.
But why should the British have had any interest in murdering him?
Put simply, Russia was a vital ally of Britain in the war against Germany and Rasputin threatened that alliance. The British Embassy realised Rasputin was so unpopular that his very existence increased the likelihood of a revolution - and any revolution would, it was feared, lead to Russia pulling out of the war.
Moreover, with Rasputin influencing the Tsarina against the war, there was no guarantee that Nicholas would be capable of asserting himself against the peacemongers.
The fact is that Britain believed Germany could not be beaten without Russia's help. But to understand why the British wanted to murder him, we have to look at how the mystic came to hold such power over the Tsar and Tsarina.
Rasputin was from solid peasant stock, born in a small Siberian village in the 1860s. He led a debauched youth until he underwent a 'religious' conversion aged 18 and donned the clothes of a monk, developing his own doctrines based on mysticism and what appeared to be healing powers. …