Medical explanations for why Rasputin took so long to die and was so difficult to kill

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First of all, all accounts of the murder - from 19-year-old Maria Rasputin and the murderers, the 29-year-old Felix Yusupov and 47-year-old Vladimir Purishkevich - are obviously biased. The theatrical details of the murder given by Yusupov have never stood up to scrutiny. He changed his account several times. Purishkevich’s account also differs significantly from Yusupov’s. None of these can be considered serious evidence.

Second, let’s have a look at the attempts:

  • Attempt No. 1 - Cyanide poisoning. According to the murderers, they served him petits-fours laced with large doses of cyanide (reportedly capable of killing 5 grown men), which did not seem to have any effect. However, the autopsy failed to detect any poison in Rasputin’s stomach. That has been attributed to the fact that the sugar and high cooking temperatures had neutralized the poison. Plus, Rasputin reportedly suffered from high stomach acidity, which discouraged him from eating large amounts of sweets.
  • Attempts No. 2 & 3 - Shootings. Yusupov reports shooting Rasputin multiple times “in the heart” at close range, which again failed to kill him. After falling down, Rasputin “jumped back to his feet in a fit of rage”, then ran out to the courtyard, where Purishkevich shot him another four times (missing three times). At that point, Rasputin already had a couple of fatal wounds, which would have killed him in 10–20 minutes anyway. However, after falling down again, his body made another jerk, which prompted the killers to shoot him once again, that time point-blank in the forehead. That is what actually killed him.
  • Attempt No. 4 - “Drowning”. After shooting Rasputin in the head, the murderers threw him into the Malaya Nevka river. They forgot to attach weights to the feet to make the body sink. His fur coat provided flotation by trapping air and the corpse drifted into an ice mass, which prevented the body from washing out into the sea. Legend has it that the autopsy established drowning as the cause of that; that was pure obfuscation, however.

Photo of Rasputin’s body. Note the clearly visible bullet hole in his forehead.

Conclusion: Rasputin didn’t take long to die. He wasn’t difficult to kill. He was murdered by a bunch of amateurs who had no idea what they were doing. They did not know how to go about killing someone. After the deed had been done, they greatly embellished their accounts of the murder - to give themselves more importance, and to strengthen the myth that Rasputin was the devil, the Antichrist whom they heroically killed to free Mother Russia.

End of story.




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