The Death of Rasputin: The Man Who Refused to Die
On December 16, 1916, having decided that Rasputin’s influence over the Tsaritsa had made him a threat to the empire, a group of nobles led by Prince Felix Yusupov and the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich and the right-wing politician Vladimir Purishkevich apparently lured Rasputin to the Yusupovs’ Moika Palace by intimating that Yusupov’s wife, Princess Irina, would be present and receiving friends. (In point of fact, she was away in the Crimea.)The group led him down to the cellar, where they served him cakes and red wine laced with a massive amount of cyanide. According to legend, Rasputin was unaffected, although Vasily Maklakov had supplied enough poison to kill five men. Determined to finish the job, Prince Yusupov became anxious about the possibility that Rasputin might live until the morning, leaving the conspirators no time to conceal his body. Yusupov ran upstairs to consult the others and then came back down to shoot Rasputin through the back with a revolver. Rasputin fell, and the company left the palace for a while. Yusupov, who had left without a coat, decided to return to get one, and while at the palace, he went to check on the body. Suddenly, Rasputin opened his eyes and lunged at Yusupov. He grabbed Yusupov, ominously whispered in his ear, “you bad boy,” and attempted to strangle him. At that moment, however, the other conspirators arrived and fired at Rasputin. After being hit three times in the back, he fell once more. As they neared his body, the party found that, remarkably, he was still alive, struggling to get up. They clubbed him into submission. Some accounts say that his killers also sexually mutilated him, severing his penis. After binding his body and wrapping him in a carpet, they threw him into the icy Neva River. He broke out of his bonds and the carpet wrapping him, but drowned in the river.