Author Topic: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH  (Read 26788 times)

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Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« on: January 28, 2005, 02:46:18 PM »
Bob Atchison recently interviewed Captain Peter Sarandinaki of the group SEARCH (Scientific Expedition to Account for the Romanov Children).  We are honored to bring you this interview.

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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2005, 02:47:33 PM »
Bob Atchison: Peter, it is a great pleasure to speak with you again. As you know we have 1200 registered members in the forum and almost 50,000 postings since last March.  This would be a good place to let people know what you are doing and how to help.  Would you start with a brief bio of yourself?

Peter Sarandinaki: My name is Peter Sarandinaki, presently serving as Master of the Horizon Crusader, a 700 foot container ship. I am married to Masha Tolstoy, we have three children and live in the eastern US.
 
I am the great-grandson of Lt. General Sergey N. Rozanoff.  My grandmother, Anna Sergeevna Rozanoff-Naryshkin, remembered in detail her father's grave mission.  He was in charge of the White Russian troops that liberated Ekaterinburg from the Reds six days after the royal family and their faithful servants were murdered.   My grandfather, Colonel Kiril M. Naryshkin, was the General’s adjutant. At this time the Ipatiev House had been fenced in and the surrounding gates were locked.  Rozanoff gave the order to break down the fence, and together, my great grandfather and grandfather were among the first to enter the Ipatiev House.

An immediate investigation of the murder was begun by the White Army. The White Army General Staff hired Investigators Nametkin and Sergeev to begin the search, but they were not trusted by the White Army General Staff.  General Rozanoff 's trusted friend from Penza , Judge Nikolas Sokolov, had just crossed the Urals into White territory. He was known as an excellent and incisive investigator.  Rozanoff recommended him to the General Staff as the man most qualified to investigate the murder of the royal family.  Almost a century later, the letter written to the General Staff by Rozanoff on behalf of Sokolov was given to me by the present day investigators.
Nikolas Sokolov accepted the General Staff's directive, and began the search in the Four Brothers Mine Area by way of the the “Open Shaft”. His investigation and pains taking search lasted until the Red Army occupied Ekaterinburg.  Sokolov collected items he considered evidence of murder, and put it in a box for safe keeping, traveling East and eventually out of Russia.  He met up with my grandparents Kiril and Anna Naryshkin who were already in Japan.  Sokolov, Naryshkin and their wives left Japan for Italy on a ship called Andre-le-Bon, where the four shared a cabin. The "Sokolov Box" was kept under my grandmother’s bunk.  After docking in Venice, the men sent the women ahead to France. Sokolov and Naryshkin took "the Box" to Grand Duke Nikolay Nikolaevich, but he refused to accept the contents, because it would upset the Tsar’s mother.  Later, Sokolov tried to give "the Box" to King George V of England, and he too refused.  The "Sokolov Box" is now in possession of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
As an eleven year old boy, I learned my family history from the many stories my grandmother used to tell me.   She had had an unusual life.  As a 17 year old girl, she accompanied her mother and sister across Russia on horseback, camel, etc.  to join her father, who had became military governor of Vladivostok and the immense Amur Region.  She loved to tell how she had rowed around Vladivostok Harbor, seeing the American Naval ships with their guns pointed at the Japanese ships.  She witnessed much, but the one story that left the strongest impression on me, was the story of the "Sokolov Box".  While guarding "the Box", she confessed to me how once she had opened it, and saw the Empress’s severed finger. This made a deep and lasting impression on my young mind, and perhaps explains my involvement to date.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by admin »

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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2005, 02:49:05 PM »
BA: Peter, could you please tell us about the organization who has been conducting the scientific surveys in Yekaterinburg and how you became involved?

PS: n 1991, I first heard the news about the remains of the Russian royal family being found in the forest outside Ekaterinburg.  Later, I was given an article about a Dr. William Maples, from the University of Florida at Gainesville and his American team who were going to Russia to help identify the remains.  I called Dr. Maples at his home and spoke to his wife Margaret.  Margaret later told me that she was intrigued by my family's connection to the original investigation and decided to tell her husband about me, setting into motion our future alliance.
 
The Obretenye Foundation, founded by Dr. Alexander Avdonin, is the organization conducting scientific surveys in Ekaterinburg.  In 1976,
Dr. Avdonin was the geologist who found the Romanov grave site at the Pig’s Meadow.   I believe that you met Alexander and his group when you visited Ekateringburg.  I met Alexander Avdonin in 1993 when he visited the USA to present his paper to the American Academy of Forensic Science in Boston.  Alexander formed the Obretenye Foundation in order to preserve the history of the Romanov family in Ekaterinburg, and particularly the sites where they originally searched and found the royal remains.  
 
Dr. William Maples, Director of the C.A. Pound Human ID Laboratory, University of Florida, Gainesville, introduced me to Dr. Alexander Avdonin and his wife Galina  in Boston.  I invited the Avdonins to my house in Nyack, NY and introduced then to the Russian-American community in the NY Tri-State area, as well as Washington D.C.
 
In 1994, author Robert K. Massie and I traveled to Ekaterinburg to interview Dr. Avdonin and to see the sites. We were allowed to visit the morgue, where the Romanov remains lay on stainless steel tables. I was allowed to film the remains of the royal family and those of their faithful servants. Then Avdonin took us the the Four Brothers Mine Area and later to the Pig’s Meadow.  We got to see the lay of the land and understand how it had all transpired.  At the Pig’s Meadow I sat on a round pile of dirt, covered with grass and small bushes.  Four years later, I returned to this site and while sifting through this pile found a 7.62 mm projectile bullet from a Nagan pistol and a clear “white” topaz stone from one of the Tsar’s daughter’s necklace.

At the same time, I also served as Bob Massie’s interpreter.  After helping him complete the necessary interviews in Russia, Robert Massie wrote The Romanovs- The Final Chapter, which was published by Random House the following year.
 
After coming back from Russia, I called Dr. Maples, to tell him about my trip.  Dr. Maples wanted to continue searching for the missing remains of two Romanov children, the Tsarevich Alexis and those of his sister the Grand Dutchess Anastasia.  Unfortunately, he developed a brain tumor and could not carry on with his search.  However, seeing that I was very interested in continuing, he introduced me to the Anthropologists at the U.S. Army Central Identification Lab in Hawaii (CILHI).  Maples had told me that the CILHI team have talented personnel and excellent equipment.
 
In 1995, my ship, Sea-Land Discovery, and I were transferred to a new route through Hawaii.  This change gave me the opportunity to meet with CILHI’s top anthropologists,  Dr. Thomas Holland and Dr. Thomas Mann, and a joint  American-Russian Ekaterinburg search was proposed.  Dr. Avdonin, aware of my project, had sent a letter from the Governor of the Ural region, inviting the U.S. Army team to come to Russia to help search for the two missing remains.  Finally, the U.S. Army declined my request, (even after the State Department gave approval for the US Army to participate in a case that had high international resonance).  However, North Korea and Red China had just opened their doors to the US Army CILHI team to come in and search for missing US military personnel (M.I.A.s).  The Army has this new mission to accomplish and sending a team to Russia would have taken valuable resources away from this new priority.  So the initial support was reneged.
 
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by admin »

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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2005, 02:49:35 PM »
In 1997, Dr. Anthony Falsetti, (who took over the CA Human ID Lab from Dr. Maples),  introduced me to Dr. Diane France, Director of the Human ID Lab at Colorado State University.  Dr. France introduced me to her group called NECROSEARCH in Fort Collins, Colorado.  NecroSearch is made up of approximately 30 scientists, who represent 15 different sciences. They have state-of-the-art equipment and even had cadaver dogs trained to search for remains.  A team was formed between both Universities and my group, S.E.A.R.CH  (Scientific Expedition to Account for the Romanov CHildren) and I was chosen as the Principal Investigator. Even though NecroSearch does its work pro bono, I had to raise $100,000 dollars to pay for the transportation and hotel for this group. I only managed to raise $10,000 dollars.  This allowed me to bring three scientists to Russian in February 1998.
 
Our team consisted of two forensic anthropologists, Drs. Anthony Falsetti and Diane France, a forensic geologist and computer expert, Jim Reed and myself, a sea captain.  We arrived in Ekaterinburg  and where taken to visit the Pig’s Meadow (under a foot of snow) and then to visit the morgue.  Drs. Falsetti and France were allowed ample time to inspect each set of remains.  I had asked Dr. Falsetti to inspect each neck bone belonging to Tsar Nicholas to see if there was any damage from cutting, i.e. referring to the rumor that the Tsar’s head had been cut off. There were no marking or indications supporting this.  They also thoroughly inspected “Anastasia’s” remains and determined that these were not the bones of a seventeen year old girl. These bones belonged to a girl of at least a nineteen years of age, thus agreeing with Dr. William Maples, who did not agree with the Russian’s findings that they had identified Anastasia.
 
On the second day of our stay in Ekaterinburg  we met with the Russian scientists who were going to work with our team . This became an exciting meeting, each group detailed what they were going to do and how the job was going to be done. My job as Principal Investigator for the American team was to facilitate their work with the Russians.  That afternoon  we met with Alexander Avdonin and  Obretenye Foundation personnel. The purpose of this meeting was to write up a Protocol of Intent.  Alexander Avdonin wanted to write that we were searching for the remains of the Tsarevich Alexis and those of his sister Maria Nikolaevna.  We told Avdonin that we could not sign such a Protocol because Drs. Falseti and France were not convinced that those remains were those of Anastasia.  An argument ensued over the wording of the Protocol.  The Russians could not afford to have another controversy as the burial of the royal family was imminent.  The American  team was not there to identify the remains as such,  but only to plan for next summer's search for the two missing children.  Finally, we signed a Protocol of Intention stating that we were searching for Tsarevich Alexis and one of his sisters.  Because this case was still under investigation, we (Falsetti, France and I) decided to keep our disagreement quiet and felt that when we found the two missing children, we could then resolve the argument.  The American team did not come back to Ekaterinburg.  Due to a lack of funds, I unfortunately was not able to bring this terrific team back to Russia.  Drs. Falsetti and France presented their paper on the identity of  Anastasia  at the convention of the American Academy of Forensic Science in January, 2000.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by admin »

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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2005, 02:49:53 PM »
In May, 1998 I sent a proposal to Alexander Avdonin for a team from the "University of Florida to go to Ekaterinburg to conduct a systematic archeological survey of the Four Brother's Mine area in conjunction with Russian experts.  University of Florida Foundation would fund this team. The archeological survey would be under the direction of Dr. William Keegan,  Assistant Director for Research and Collections of the Florida Museum of Natural History.  Dr. Keegan would coordinate his efforts with Russian Experts in the fields of Geology, Geophysics, and Archeology.  Supporting Dr. Keegan was to be Drs. Falsetti, Goza, Warren, Rout, and Doctoral Candidate, Corbett Torrence.  Alexander Avdonin declined the proposal because he had to put all his efforts into the July burial of the Royal remains and did not have the time to organize such a search in the same month.  Finally, the Russians opted to go at it alone.

In September 1998, after the official internment of the Romanovs in St. Petersburg had already taken place, I was invited  by Alexander Avdonin to participate in the first search for the Romanov children’s remains.  We arrived at the Fours Brothers Mine Area where I found that approximately an area of 200 meters square was divided and marked every 2 meters.  Electromagnetic, seismic profiling studies were being conducted to find anomaly spots.  We found one of the bon fires that white Russian General Dieterichs mentioned in his book.  We had a team of local archeologists and their students working with us.  We found the place where Sokolov had worked and we continued his work. After digging down 10 centimeters we were back in 1918!  I found the projectile  from a bullet of a Nagan Pistol.  Later,  I also found a white topaz stone from a necklace which belonged to one of the Tsar’s daughters.  Sokolov, I believe, found fourteen such stones, and I found the fifteenth.  We also found articles of clothing, but did not find any actual remains.  We checked various other leads in the Koptiaki forest that were culled from the Archives. Nothing was found, but I did make new friends.
 
In June, 1999, I returned to Ekaterinburg with the hope that we would be successful.  I worked with Dr. Alexander Avdonin, Dr. Sergey Nikitin, the Medical Examiner from the City of Moscow.  Sergey is my age and we became good friends.  During a lunch at the Avdonin’s I asked the following,
"I now have three American forensic anthropologists, Drs. Maples, Falsetti and France, that claim that you have made a mistake on the identification of Anastasia.  Who decided that you found Anastasia?"… and they all pointed at Nikitin.  “It was me” he said, “Didn’t you know?” “NO” I responded, "I never knew until now!",  then  Avdonin suggested that perhaps Sergey should go to America and deliver a Russian rebuttal.  I suggested that the perfect place for this would be  the 2000 convention of the American Academy of Forensic Science in Reno, where Drs. Falsetti and France were going to present their paper on Anastasia.

Many more items were found during our June expedition,  but all were similar to what Sokolov had found in 1918-1919.  Nikitin and I found a second bon fire site that the first investigators initially found. This bon fire site had been thoroughly excavated and other than coal, nothing was found.  At the same time that Nikitin and I were digging around the second bon fire site,  Avdonin and Kremlin Archeologist, Tatiana Panova, were digging near the Open Mine shaft.  At a depth of approximately 20 centimeters,  Avdonin found a third bon fire site.  This site covered a much larger area than the other two combined.  About fifty pieces of bone were found, but were later determined to be animal bones.  From archival research, we had learned that the Bolsheviks had tried to burn four of the remains, but were unsuccessful.  Finding this new bon fire site was an integral step to furthering the investigation.
 
In January 2000, Sergey Nikitin presented his paper on Anastasia and was rebutted by Drs. Falsetti and France.  Nikitin and I felt that it was necessary to continue the search and would do so in the the future.  Alexander Avdonin  suffered a stroke, but managed to write and publish a book about our searches in the Koptiaki Forest.  One of the projects that I will undertake in the future is to have this book translated and published in English.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by admin »

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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2005, 02:50:18 PM »
BA: This past summer you conducted new surveys in Yekaterinburg, could you tell us who participated and what you hoped to accomplish?

PS: This past summer Dr. Sergey Nikitin,  Vladimir Konstantinov, (one of Russia's foremost Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) specialists) myself and others conducted surveys near Ekaterinburg.  We hoped to find the remains of the Tsarevich Alexis and those of one of his sisters, either Maria or Anastasia

BA: Where there any surprises in your findings?

PS: We used heavy equipment to bring part of the Koptiaki Road level and down to 1918 times. Afterwards, Konstantinov used his GPR to look for anomalies.  We found many anomalies, or areas where the ground was disturbed, and opened each one.  However, this time we had no surprises.  We plan to continue next summer.

BA: Since the discovery of the remains of the Imperial family human activity has transformed the sites,  How has this changed your work or made results more difficult to obtain?

PS: The digging that was done in the Pig's Meadow by others did disturbed the search site. We had to re-do their work because each hole that they dug became an anomaly for us. Other then that, this site remains unchanged.
The Four Brothers Mine Area is no longer accessible for scientific work as the Russian Orthodox Church has taken it over and has built a monastery with six beautiful log churches.  To date, the Orthodox Church in Russian and Abroad do not accept those remains found by Avdonin as those of the Romanovs.  Sad, but true.

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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2005, 02:50:38 PM »
BA: What has been the greatest challenge in conducting your scientific work?

PS: Prior to our 1998 and 1999 digs, the greatest challenge was raising funds to get the American scientists to Russia.
The greatest challenge now is getting the Churches to accept the found remains as the remains of the Romanovs and their faithful servants.

BA:  Will you been returning this next summer for another survey and what do you hope to accomplish?

PS: Yes, I will be returning to Ekaterinburg next summer in order to resume our search. It is very important to resolve this case. There still is too much controversy from various groups in Russia, as well as in the U.S. We need to find the last two set of remains so that the Romanov family can rest in peace, together, and close this sad chapter in Russia's history.

BA: How is Dr. Avdonin, the finder of the remains?

PS: Dr. Avdonin had a stroke after our February 1998 trip. He improved, but suffered an even stronger stroke in 2003. Remarkably, he has managed to regain his speech and subsequently has written a book.

BA:  How can people help in your work and the work of your organization?

PS: Bob, perhaps you can advise me how to start a web site for SEARCH, as I have much documentation, photographs, etc. that I believe would be of interest to the public.  SEARCH is not yet a non-profit foundation as I do not have the initial start-up investment necessary. I have been funding my own travel to Russia each year, and my goal is to have SEARCH become a viable non-profit organization that could underwrite a team of scientists and enthusiasts to continue the work.  However, since I was never a good fund raiser I am still at the elemental stage concerning SEARCH.  Any suggestions you may have on this regard would be more than welcomed!

In closing, may I mention that the Obretenye foundation needs money to build a Chapel on the Pig's Meadow site. People can send checks made out to the Obretenye Foundation
c/o
SEARCH
Capt. Peter Sarandinaki
49 Lakeshore Drive
Oakland, NJ  07436

I hope that I answered your questions well enough.
With very best regards to all.

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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2005, 02:51:32 PM »
Our most heartfelt thanks to Captain Sarandinaki for taking his valuable time to grant this interview.  We hope everyone enjoys it.

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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2005, 12:10:41 AM »
Thank you all for this most illuminating interview.

In appreciation,

Belochka  :D


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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2005, 12:17:15 PM »
Thank you so much for your participation in the interview Captain Sarandinaki, it was very helpful!  :D

And to F.A, good job on the questions!  ;)

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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2005, 01:04:44 PM »
Thank you very much for bringing this information to us, it is very interesting. I hope we will be kept posted of any future findings!

Helen

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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2005, 01:08:36 PM »
Wow, thank you a lot for that interview. It gave a lot of insight.  :D

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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2005, 03:59:59 PM »
Thank you very much for posting this interview,it was very informative.I look forward to hearing about their future findings.
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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2005, 06:04:48 AM »
Thankyou so much, Mr. Sarandinaki, Mr. Atchison and FA!

I look forward to the book.  :)

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Re: Captain Peter Sarandinaki of SEARCH
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2005, 05:11:32 PM »
Thanks! ;D
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