On June 12, 1918, Grand Duke Mikhail Aleksandrovich (henceforth Michael) and his secretary Brian Johnson, a Brit, were randomly executed in the outskirts of the far away city of Perm in the Ural Mountains. A year ago, Russia "rehabilitated" both, along with other Romanov-related victims of Soviet repression. The decision followed a similar act about Tsar Nicholas II and his family on October 1, 2008.Share
However, the Russian media at large failed to single Michael out from among the other Romanovs. Didn´t Tsar Nicholas abdicate in favor of Michael, his younger brother? If so, shouldn´t he be treated as Michael II, the last of the Romanov tsars?
Yes, he should. So thinks Donald Crawford, the co-author of a 1997 book Michael and Natasha: The Life and Love of Michael II, the Last of the Romanov Tsars. Crawford is a lawyer and the publisher of "Parliamentary Briefs" in London. He is fully aware of deviations from the law in both Nicholas´s abdication and Michael´s deferring his assumption of power contingent upon the decision of the popularly elected Constituent Assembly. However, Crawford insists that those deviations were necessary in order to save the spirit of the law and Russia herself. He is right in calling Michael "the last of the Romanov tsars." Not for the sake of anybody´s vanity, of which Michael had none. But for the sake of extraordinary legacy that Michael bequeathed to Russia. That legacy is worthy of any tsar.
Left-liberal and Soviet propaganda for years maligned and dismissed the only act Michael signed on March 16, 1917 in response to his brother´s declaring him the Emperor of Russia. They called it a yet another abdication following the one by Nicholas. In fact, it was far from it. In his Manifesto Michael declared his readiness to assume the supreme power contingent upon the decision of the Constituent Assembly on the best form of government for Russia. He stipulated the Constituent Assembly to be elected through universal, direct, equal, and secret ballot. He thus introduced to Russia the most democratic electoral law anywhere at the time, including the US. He finally empowered the Provisional Government to run the country until the Constituent Assembly was elected.
The immediate effect of Michael´s conciliatory compromise decision was that the February revolution was stopped in its track. Russia was enabled to resume her war obligations as part of the Entente alliance. The victory was clearly in sight, especially, after the United States joined the alliance next month. However, the Provisional Government proved ineffective. The Bolsheviks continued to undermine war efforts with the slogan "Turn the imperialist war into a civil war" and the promise of land to soldiers who were mostly peasants. Trying to win a popularity contest with the Bolsheviks, the left-liberal Provisional Government of Aleksandr Kerensky declared Russia republic on September 1, in direct violation of Michael´s Manifesto. Finally, the Provisional Government was overthrown in a Bolshevik coup d´etat on November 7, 1917. (Read entire article.)