Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia - Imprisonment


On 11 March 1918, Uritsky sent Michael and Johnson to Perm, a thousand miles to the east, on the order of the Council of the People's Commissars, which included both Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. The journey, by freight train in a coach without windows or heat, took eight days at an average speed of 5 miles per hour. At first, Michael was billeted in a hotel, but two days after his arrival he was jailed by the local Soviet. Natalia lobbied the Commissars in Petrograd for his release, and on 9 April 1918 he was set at liberty within Perm. He moved into the best room in the best hotel in Perm, along with Johnson and two manservants, valet Vasily Chelyshev and former chauffeur Borunov. Natalia feared for George's safety, and in March 1918, she arranged for Michael's son to be smuggled out of Russia by his nanny with the help of Danish diplomats and the Putyatins.

In May, Natalia was granted a travel permit to join Michael. Accompanied by family friends, Prince Putyatin and Margaret Abakanovich, she arrived at Perm before the Orthodox Easter, and they spent about a week together. Meanwhile, as part of the truce between the Bolsheviks and the Central Powers, prisoners-of-war from Austria–Hungary were being shipped out of Russia. Czech troops were strung out along the Trans-Siberian Railway, on their way to Vladivostok, where they were due to take ship. The Czechs, however, were not going home to fight for the Austrian empire, but to fight for a separate homeland independent from Austria. The Germans demanded that the Bolsheviks disarm the Czechs, who fought back, seized the railway, joined forces with Russians fighting against the Bolsheviks, and advanced westwards toward Perm. With the approach of the Czechs, Michael and Natalia feared that she would become trapped there, possibly in a dangerous situation, and so on 18 May she left unhappily. By early June, Michael was again ill with stomach trouble.

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