(Alla Astanina’s article appeared in Russia Beyond the Headlines, 4/18.)
A little-known figure in Russian history, in many respects the story of Nikolai Sokolov differs little from millions of other provincial Russians who rose to regional prominence in the latter days of the Russian Empire by dint of their education and ambition. However, it is due to this man that the world can now be sure that it knows the full story of the death of the last Russian tsar.
Sokolov was born in the province of Penza (350 miles southeast of Moscow) on May 22, 1882 and received a degree in law. Before the revolution, he served as a court investigator. By 1917, he had risen to the post of a major case investigator at the Penza district court. After the revolution and the overthrow of the monarchy, he remained faithful to the old system.
"Having taken sick leave, Sokolov went to Siberia," says Vladimir Solovyov, a senior investigator and criminologist of the Main Department of Criminology at the Investigative Committee of Russia and the man who headed the reopened investigation into the case of the murder of the Romanovs from 1993 to 2011.