Rasputin by Brian Moynahan


An impressive account of bad behavior is cataloged here.  Page after page of stories of drinking, trading sex for influence with powerful figures, demanding sex, politically ruining anyone who opposed him, and more; this is Rasputin.  He loved and wanted power, but didn’t care for the trappings or appearance of power.  Many described him as repulsive at the same time they were fascinated by him.  His strength was an unexplainable power to heal or at least know when someone would survive a terrible illness or accident.  There are credible accounts of stopping the bleeding of Alexis, the hemophiliac son of the tsar.  The real basis of his power, though, was his connection with the true villain of that time, Alexandra, the tsarina.  Her letters to the weak willed tsar were as repulsive as Rasputin’s behavior.  She thought Rasputin a saint and managed to remove anyone who opposed him.  It must be said that Rasputin was generous to the poor, and was contemptuous of the upper classes.  His willingness to help the others could hardly be called virtuous when it was so often tied to sex or some other favor for himself.   

About his famous death:  inspired by a speech in the Duma by Purishkevich condemning Rasputin, Yusupov, from a rich family who married royalty, joined with others to kill him.  They gathered at the Moika palace and offered him poisoned cakes and wine.  He ate and drank with no ill effects and no poison was found in an autopsy.  One explanation is that a corrupt drug manufacturer substituted cheaper materials for the drugs sold to the military.  After several hours, Yusupov shot him; he was left for some time and eventually revived to attack Yusupov.  He escaped the palace, and eventually was shot several times by Purishkevich and then beaten by Purishkevich and Yusupov.  The group, except for Yusupov who was exhausted — it was 5:30 a.m. by now — took him to the river and dumped him.  They forgot to put weights on his body and his boot was left on the ice.  There were traces of water found in his lungs by the autopsy, indicating he was not clinically dead when he was thrown in the river.

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