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Urals plane crash delays identification of tsar family remains

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Identification of the Perm plane crash victims has delayed DNA tests on the remains of the family of Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, the head of Yekaterinburg's forensic laboratory said on Friday.
YEKATERINBURG, September 26 (RIA Novosti) - Identification of the Perm plane crash victims has delayed DNA tests on the remains of the family of Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, the head of Yekaterinburg's forensic laboratory said on Friday.

The laboratory in the Urals city is conducting DNA identification the 88 victims of the September 14 Boeing 737 crash in Perm, and is also working on a comparison of DNA samples from Nicholas II's blood-stained shirt and bone fragments found near Yekaterinburg in 1991 and 2007.

The Boeing jet, owned by Aeroflot subsidiary Aeroflot Nord, crashed on a rail line linking Yekaterinburg and Perm during its final approach to Perm airport. The first results from DNA tests are expected in three weeks.

"The lab staff are working round the clock, and on weekends," Nikolai Nevolin said. "The comparison of the genetic profile of Nikolai Romanov's DNA with the genetic profile of bone fragments will be carried out after the identification the crash victims is over."

Nicholas II, who abdicated in March 1917, was arrested along with his family by the Bolsheviks after the October Revolution. The tsar, his wife Alexandra, and their children - Olga, Tatyana, Maria, Alexei, and Anastasia - along as several servants, were executed by a firing squad in a basement of a house in Yekaterinburg on July 16, 1918.

The bodies of all members of the Romanov family, except for those of Maria and Alexei, were found in 1991 and buried in the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg in 1998. On July 29, 2007 the remains of a boy and a young girl were found near Yekaterinburg.

In mid-July 2008, DNA tests carried out by a total of 22 experts from 12 different laboratories confirmed that the remains belonged to Prince Alexei and his elder sister Maria.

The results, however, have been challenged by the Russian Orthodox Church, which said trying to prove that the remains found in 2007 are genetically linked to the bones discovered 10 years ago makes no sense, as the identities of the Romanov family remains were established "under pressure from the authorities."

Forensic experts now have to compare the DNA extracted from the bones with DNA taken from the blood-stained shirt that Nicholas II was wearing during a failed assassination attempt in Japan in 1890.

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