MOSCOW – Russia's czarist era, which ended a century ago, was marked by cruelty and oppression, and finished in a chaotic spasm of blood, anger and confusion.
But there are those in the country today who believe the monarchist system should be restored. Some of them reflected on their views to The Associated Press before the March 15 centennial of the forced abdication of Emperor Nicholas II.
In their words, it's not so much a matter of political science as of heart and soul — the belief that sprawling and dramatic Russia needs the control of an autocrat, that a purported national character yearns for a czar.
"I think this is a national trait of our people — the authority of the ruler, the worshipping of the ruler. Which is why I believe that the national mentality over the centuries was formed precisely as monarchist," says Pavel Isakov-Kundius, head of cultural programs at the Museum of the Imperial family.
"Monarchy has always been a guarantor of stability, especially an Orthodox monarch. We live in an Orthodox country and we profess Orthodox values and the monarch has always been the Anointed of the Lord," says Alexander Fomin of the All-Russian Monarchist Center.
Nicholas II and his family were killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. The Russian Orthodox Church canonized them as saints for dying martyrs' deaths.
"Only the power sanctified by God can be lasting," in the words of Oleg Syropyadov, a psychiatry professor at the Military Medical Academy.