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Murder of Rasputin (Page 4)

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It was now about 2:30 a.m. and Felix was worried. Again he made an excuse and went upstairs to talk with the other conspirators. The poison obviously wasn't working. Felix took a gun from Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich and went back downstairs. Rasputin didn't notice that Felix had returned with a gun behind his back. While Rasputin was looking at a beautiful ebony cabinet, Felix said, "Grigory Efimovich, you would do better to look at the Crucifix and pray to It."5 Felix raised the pistol and shot.

The other conspirators rushed down the stairs to see Rasputin laying on the ground and Felix standing over him with the gun. They moved Rasputin's body off the bear rug so that the seeping blood wouldn't stain it. Rasputin was still breathing. After a few minutes, Rasputin "jerked convulsively" and then fell still.6 Since Rasputin was dead, the conspirators went upstairs to celebrate and to wait for the night to get later so they could dump the body with no witnesses.

There is some conflict in the story at this point. Some accounts claim that Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich and Dr. Lazavert drove off in the car to get rid of Rasputin's fur coat. Other accounts suggest they never left the palace.7

About an hour later, Felix felt an inexplicable need to go look at the body. He went back downstairs and felt the body. It still seemed warm. He shook the body. There was no reaction. When Felix starting turning away, he noticed Rasputin's left eye start to flutter open. He was still alive!

Rasputin sprang to his feet and rushed at Felix, grabbing his shoulders and neck. Felix struggled to get free and finally did so. He rushed upstairs shouting, "He's still alive!"

Purishkevich was upstairs and had just put his Sauvage revolver in his pocket when he saw Felix come back up shouting. Felix was crazed with fear, "[h]is face was literally gone, his handsome . . . eyes had come out of their sockets . . . [and] in a semi-conscious state . . . almost without seeing me, he rushed past with a crazed look."8

Purishkevich rushed down the stairs only to find that Rasputin was running out across the courtyard. As Rasputin was running he yelled, "Felix, Felix, I'll tell everything to the tsarina."[su]9

Purishkevich was chasing after him. While running, he fired his gun, but missed. He fired again, but missed again. And then he bit his hand to regain control of himself. Again he fired. This time the bullet found its mark, hitting Rasputin in the back. Rasputin stopped and Purishkevich fired again. This time the bullet hit Rasputin in the head. Rasputin fell. His head was jerking but he tried to crawl. Purishkevich had caught up now and kicked Rasputin in the head.

Policeman Vlassiyev, while he was standing on duty on Moika Street, heard what sounded like "three or four shots in quick succession."10 He headed over to investigate. Standing outside the Yusupov palace he saw two men crossing the courtyard whom he recognized as Prince Yusupov and his servant Buzhinsky. He asked them if they had heard any gunshots to which Buzhinsky answered that he had not. Thinking it had probably just been a car backfiring, Vlassiyev went back to his post.

Rasputin's body was brought in and placed by the stairs which led to the basement dining room. For some reason, Rasputin's mutilated face put Felix into a rage. Felix grabbed a two-pound dumbbell and began indiscriminately hitting Rasputin with it. When Felix was finally pulled off, he was splattered with blood.

Felix's servant Buzhinsky then told Purishkevich about the conversation with the policeman. They were worried that he might tell his superiors what he had heard and seen. They must have bit quite a bit drunk when they sent for the policeman to come back to the house. Vlassiyev recalled that when he entered the palace, a man asked him, "Have you ever heard of Purishkevich?"

To which the policeman replied, "I have."

"I am Purishkevich. Have you ever heard of Rasputin? Well, Rasputin is dead. And if you love our mother Russia, you'll keep quiet about it."

"Yes, sir."11

And then they let the policeman go. Vlassiyev waited about twenty minutes and then told his superiors everything that he had heard and seen.

It was amazing and shocking, but after being poisoned, shot three times, and having been beaten with a dumbbell, Rasputin was still alive. They bound his arms and legs with rope and wrapped his body in a heavy cloth.

The Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich and Dr. Lazavert returned, unsuccessful in their errand.

Since it was almost dawn, the conspirators were now in a hurry to get rid of the body. Felix stayed at home to clean himself up. The rest of them placed the body in the car, sped off to their pre-chosen location, and heaved the heavy body over the side of the bridge. They forgot to weigh it down with weights.

The conspirators split up and went their separate ways, hoping that they had gotten away with murder.

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