Friday, January 20, 2023

Russian Imperial House Seeks to Save Russian Cemetery at Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 16 – The most important cemetery of members of the first Russian emigration, Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois, on the outskirts of Paris is at risk of closure because Moscow has not paid the required rent. But now the Russian Imperial House has intervened and says it seek to work with the Russian and French authorities to arrange payment.

            Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois is the site of more than 15,000 graves and memorials to some of the most prominent political, military, economic, and artistic members of the Russian emigration that fled the Bolshevik revolution. Many Russians have come there to venerate those interred within its walls, including Vladimir Putin in 2007.

            Because the land around the cemetery is now so urbanized and has risen so much in price, local French officials have since the 1960s threatened to close the Russian cemetery down, dis-interring the bodies and reburying them elsewhere. Until recently, those threats were countered by assistance from Russian emigres and by the Russian government.

             But the first emigration has almost completely disappeared over the last few decades and the current Russian government for all its talk about a single stream of Russian history has shown much less interest in coming up with the money that would ensure this shrine to Russian history remains in place.

            Now, the Russian Imperial House, disturbed by this prospect, has announced that it will work with Moscow and Paris to resolve the issue, one that touches a few graves now but could threaten the entire necropolis. What it will do and whether it will succeed remain open questions, but the House’s involvement is certain to spark new talk about the monarchy in Russia (

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