March 13, 2008 / 5:17 PM / in 11 years

Romanovs bless Medvedev after Russian vote win

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The self-declared heir to Russia’s imperial throne on Thursday congratulated Dmitry Medvedev on his election win and urged the future Kremlin leader to fulfill Russia’s destiny as a great world power.

Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister and president-elect Dmitry Medvedev speaks at a meeting in Moscow March 13, 2008. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Pool/Dmitry Astakhov

Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, the leading claimant to the Russian imperial throne, sent a congratulatory telegram to Medvedev, Alexander Zakatov, head of the chancellery of Russia’s self-styled Imperial House, told Reuters.

Medvedev, a 42-year-old former lawyer, is set to become the youngest Russian leader since the last Tsar, Nicholas II, who he says he admires. He will be officially sworn in May, though he has already moved to the Kremlin.

“You take up the rule of the Russian state at an historical stage when it has overcome atheism and inhuman totalitarianism, then withstood the inevitable shocks after the collapse of the old system and way of living,” the Grand Duchess wrote.

Russia, she said, had renewed confidence in its destiny as a truly great world power based on traditional values, public welfare, the protection of rights and freedoms, the defense of national interests and an active role in international affairs.

The Romanov dynasty ruled Russia for 300 years before Nicholas II abdicated in 1917, setting Russia on course for the Bolshevik Revolution, civil war and 70 years of Communist rule.

The Bolsheviks killed Nicholas, his younger brother, Grand Duke Michael, and most of their close family in 1918, though some Romanovs escaped to Europe, where they kept up opposition to Soviet rule.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, scores of tiny monarchist groups emerged but none have garnered widespread support.

Kremlin opponents such as Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov say Russian presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin have themselves ruled like tsars, with enormous powers and few limits to their authority.

Putin says his greatest achievement has been to bring stability after the chaos of the 1990s. Medvedev has said he will appoint Putin, a former KGB spy, as his prime minister.

“May God shed on you the wisdom, strength and will to preserve, consolidate and multiply all the good that was achieved with the great nationwide effort over the past years,” Maria Vladimirovna, who lives in Spain, told Medvedev.

She called on Medvedev to “overcome the hardships and woes that have not yet been eradicated”.

Putin was sent similar congratulations when he won election as Russian president, Zakatov said.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Philippa Fletcher

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