University of Dundee University of Dundee
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17 January 2006

Uncovering the truth of the death of Rasputin

Professor Derrick Pounder has examined bodies and studied deaths all over the world but one of the latest cases he was asked to look at involved him travelling back through time, to events in Russia 90 years ago and the famous death of the "mad monk" Rasputin.

Professor Pounder, head of the Department of Forensic Medicine at the University of Dundee and a senior forensic pathologist, was commissioned by historical author Andrew Cook to to undertake an independent review of the 1916 autopsy report into Rasputin's death, autopsy materials and photographs, that Mr Cook had gained privileged access to in Russia.

Professor Pounder's conclusions helped shed new light on how Rasputin actually died, and debunk myths which have been accepted for nine decades. It had previously been stated that the murder of Rasputin on the night of 16-17 December 1916 had followed an extraordinary sequence of events - it was claimed that first he was poisoned, then shot and finally drowned in a frozen river by Russian aristocrats who feared his influence on Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra.

However, after studying the autopsy materials, Professor Pounder concluded that ballistics evidence linked a British Secret Service officer to the fatal shot fired into Rasputin's forehead.

Professor Pounder also scotched the myth that Rasputin had drowned or had been poisoned.

"I was asked by the author to study the original autopsy pictures and from these it was clear that the fatal shot to the forehead had been fired from a different weapon to the weapon which caused the other two gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen. The fatal shot had been fired by the largest calibre gun known to be present, and that was the one which was carried by a British agent," said Professor Pounder.

"The actual bullet used would have proved that beyond doubt, but it appears to have been removed by the British agent, ostensibly as a `souvenir', although we can assume he was taking with him the vital piece of evidence."

Mr Cook's book, To Kill Rasputin - The Life and Death of Grigori Rasputin, concludes that the British Secret Service were behind the assassination.

In writing the book the author undertook an exhaustive investigation that took him across Russia, Europe and into the heart of the British Secret Service archives.

The book is published by Tempus and is available in bookstores now.

Notes to Editors

Andrew Cook worked for many years as a foreign affairs and defence specialist. He is only the fifth historian to be given special permission under the 1992 'Waldegrave Initiative' by the Cabinet Office to examine closed MI6 documents that will never be released. He was historical consultant for the recent BBC Timewatch documentary on Rasputin, but the key discoveries came after the screening and appear for the first time in this book. He is author of the critically acclaimed Ace of Spies: The True Story of Sidney Reilly ('Both a compelling narrative and a myth-shattering tour de force' SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE) and M: MI5's First Spymaster. ('A brilliantly researched biography' STELLA RIMINGTON)

To contact the author Andrew Cook:
01525-862187 [Home]
07801 237 447 [Mobile]

To see the book's website:

For more information contact:

Roddy Isles
Head of Press Office
University of Dundee
Tel: 01382 384910