Rasputin is a Russian nickname meaning the "Debauchee." For twelve years the Black Monk, Gregory Novihh, famed as Rasputin, dominated the Tsaritsa Alexandra, and through her swayed Tsar Nicholas the Last,* and through him warped the destiny of All the Russias.
Today Prince Felix Youssoupov, one of a patriotic group of Russian noblemen who slew Rasputin in 1916, is being sued at Paris for 25,000,000 francs ($1,000,000) damages, by the Black Monk's surviving daughter, Mme. Boris Soloviev, once Mlle. Matrona Novihh (TIME, June 25).
Last week Mme. Soloviev told Paris correspondents, for the first time, about the night of Dec. 30, 1916, when her father went to meet Death.
Debauchee or Staretz? "My father had his defects, like everyone else," said Monk Rasputin's daughter, "but he was a good father and a good man. He was a staretz, a man inspired by God. I carry his name with pride. . . .
"Prince Felix Youssoupov was to my father apparently one of his dearest friends. He often came to our house in Petrograd. That evening in 1916, which was to be his last, my father said to me:
" 'Felix is coming to get me. You must tell nobody about it. I am to go to his house incognito to a reception that he and the Grand Duke Dimitri have organized for me.'
"At midnight they came. Youssoupov was admitted by the servants' stairway. He embraced my father, crying: 'Ah, my dear friend,' and took him away."
"When my father did not return the next morning I telephoned the Prince. He assured me that he did not know where my father could be. I then telephoned the Tsaritsa Alexandra. She sent a carriage to get me.
"My sister and I were taken to the Palace of Tsarskoe-Selo into the presence of the Tsaritsa. She told me that my father had met a horrible death. She said that he had been her faithful counselor, the man in whom she had put all her confidence.
"She did not weep. She looked at us with an expression of infinite tenderness and sadness. I did not then know all that had happened.
"I was to know one other grief. Two years ago, here in Paris, Boris, my husband, died in the Cochin Hospital of exhaustion and privation. But my two children and I are well. And I have work..."
"My suit for damages against Prince Felix Youssoupov and the Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich [both resident in Paris] is not primarily a struggle for money. It is an effort to clear my slandered father's name!"
Slayer's Boast. Prince Felix Youssoupov has written autobiographically that he offered Rasputin poisoned wine, after first pretending to take a sip himself. When the Debauchee's potent digestion resisted liquid poison, Rasputin was induced to eat several pastries containing cyanide of potassium. Expectantly the nobles waited for their victim to collapse, and blanched with fear as the Black Monk, who was believed to possess occult powers, became merely hilarious after absorbing enough poison to kill a healthy elephant.
Prince Youssoupov boasts that he finally drew a revolver and put shot after shot into Rasputin. Even then the period before Death came was so appallingly long that the Grand Duke Dimitri is said to have rewound a phonograph 20 times in an effort to keep up the morale of all concerned. He later remarked with a shudder: