Rasputin, Grigorii

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Rasputin, Grigorii Efimovich


(real surname No-vykh). Born 1864 or 1865 in the village of Pokrovskoe, present-day Tiumen’ Oblast; died Dec. 17 (30), 1916, in Petrograd. Favorite of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife, Aleksandra Fedorovna; adventurist.

Rasputin was the son of the peasant E. Novykh. In the late 19th century he joined the khlysty (flagellants), a religious sect. Although he pretended to be a religious fanatic, he led a wild life that earned him the nickname Rasputin (“the dissolute”). Later, this became his surname. By 1902 he was famous as the Siberian “prophet” and “holy monk.” Welcomed in the homes of the upper aristocracy of St. Petersburg during 1904–05, he was invited to the tsar’s palace in 1907.

Rasputin succeeded in persuading Nicholas II and Aleksandra Fedorovna that he alone, through his prayers, could save the hemophiliac heir to the throne, Aleksei, and maintain “divine” support for the rule of Nicholas II. He enjoyed unlimited influence with the tsar, who appointed and removed even the highest state and church officials on Rasputin’s advice. Rasputin profited from financial machinations and offered “protection” in exchange for bribes. An erotomaniac surrounded by a mob of female admirers, Rasputin took advantage of his power and his high social connections to engage in unbridled debauchery, for which he became notorious throughout Russia.

Seeking to save tsarist power from discredit, the monarchists F. F. Iusupov, V. M. Purishkevich, and Grand Duke Dmitrii Pavlovich killed Rasputin. Rasputinshchina (Rasputinism) was a dramatic manifestation of the decline and degeneration of the tsarist regime and of the entire ruling elite of the Russian Empire.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.