The remains of Czar Nicholas II and his wife have been exhumed in Russia to determine whether body parts unearthed eight years ago are those of two of their children.
Nicholas, his wife Alexandra and their five children were executed in 1918 as White Army forces closed in on the Bolsheviks holding them prisoner. They were shot and thrown into a mineshaft before being burnt and hastily buried.
Remains identified as the parents and three children were interred in 1998, reported The Associated Press. Body parts identified as those of Czarevich Alexei and his sister were found in 2007.
Authorities had said there were plans next month to bury the remains of the czar's son and heir Alexei and daughter Maria alongside their family in Saint Petersburg, reported news service AFP, but the Russian Orthodox Church called for further investigation.
The church has canonized the family and worshipping false relics would be sacrilege. It does not consider the other remains authentic.
A high-level government taskforce announced the plan to bury the remains on Oct. 18. They have been in a repository, the State Archives, since their discovery in 2007.
The burial is set to take place in the former imperial capital's Peter and Paul Cathedral, where Nicholas II, his wife and their three other children – daughters Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia – were buried in 1998.
A spokesman for a branch of descendants of the imperial family, Ivan Artsishevsky, said that family members would attend the funeral.
The remains thought to be Alexei and Maria were found about 40 miles away from the others. Alexei, who suffered from haemophilia, was 13 when he was murdered, while Maria was 19.
Russian criminal investigators have ruled that the remains of Alexei and Maria are authentic after DNA testing.
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