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The SIS Plot to Kill Rasputin

Was Grigori Rasputin assassinated by Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service to stop a deal that would have freed German forces to fight on the Western Front?

New research by acclaimed intelligence historian Andrew Cook suggests Rasputin, the Russian monk who became the confidant of the last tsar, was almost certainly killed by a British undercover intelligence officer.

The murder of Rasputin on the night of 16-17 December 1916 has always seemed extraordinary: first he was poisoned, then shot and finally drowned in a frozen river by Russian aristocrats fearful of his influence on Tsar
Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra.

the plot

Andrew Cook has uncovered convincing hitherto unknown evidence that points to an Oswald Rayner, member of the Secret Intelligence Service, who was working at the Russian court in St Petersburg.

Three years ago when researching the life of Ace of Spies Sidney Reilly (far right), I had the great fortune to interview the daughter of Captain John Scale, the British officer who recruited Reilly to the Secret Intelligence Service in 1918. During the course of our conversation about Scale’s time in Russia, she referred in passing to the central role her father played in organising the plot to assassinate Grigori Rasputin.

In her possession was an Aladdin’s cave of intelligence material, diaries, reports and memos John Scale had horded away. I was able to use these to trace the families of other British intelligence officers who had also been involved in the Rasputin plot. It was clear from the papers Scale and his fellow conspirators left behind that they not only held Rasputin responsible for the systematic replacement of those Russian ministers they considered pro-British during the Summer and Autumn of 1916, replacing them with ‘pro-Germans’, but believed Rasputin was hell bent on using his influence over the Tsar and Tsarina to pull Russia out of the war and conclude a separate peace deal with Germany. Such a course of action would have enabled the Germans to move their troops from the Eastern Front to the Western Front, where their superior numbers would soon overwhelm the British and French and bring about their defeat. Scale was initially sent to Russia by ‘C’, the Chief of SIS, in August 1916, where on arrival he headed directly for the Astoria Hotel in Petrograd where most of the British Intelligence Mission were billeted. It was not long before he renewed his acquaintance with Prince Felix Yusupov who he had first met before the war when he was.... download pdf

the book










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