Moscow The last czar and his family were victims of political repression, Russia's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, formally restoring the Romanov name and furthering a Kremlin effort to encourage patriotism by celebrating the country's czarist past.
Nicholas II, his wife and five children were shot to death by a Bolshevik firing squad in 1918, a year after the revolution that led to the creation of the Soviet Union.
For years, their descendants have sought rehabilitation in the courts, claiming the executions were political repression. The argument was repeatedly denied until Wednesday when the country's highest court issued the final word, siding with the family.
According to critics, earlier rulings reflected Vladimir Putin's reluctance to condemn the Soviet government's crimes, in part to justify his own retreat from democracy.
But in recent years, Putin and his successor as president, Dmitry Medvedev, have evoked the majesty of the czarist era in Kremlin ceremonies. And they have given a place of prominence to the Russian Orthodox Church, which has canonized Nicholas II and his family.
At the same time, Putin, now prime minister, and Medvedev also have continued to glorify the Soviet Union's achievements and celebrate the symbols of its power.