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Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (Russian: Григорий Ефимович Распутин [ɡrʲɪˈɡorʲɪj jɪˈfʲiməvʲɪtɕ rɐˈsputʲɪn]) (21 January [O.S. 9 January] 1869 – 30 December [O.S. 17 December] 1916) was a Russian mystic and self-proclaimed holy man who befriended the family of Tsar Nicholas II and gained considerable influence in late imperial Russia.

Born to a peasant family in the Siberian village of Pokrovskoye, Rasputin had a religious conversion experience after taking a pilgrimage to a monastery in 1897. He has been described as a monk or as a "strannik" (wanderer, or pilgrim), though he held no official position in the Russian Orthodox Church. After traveling to St. Petersburg, either in 1903 or the winter of 1904–5, Rasputin captivated some church and social leaders. He became a society figure, and met the Tsar in November 1905.

In late 1906, Rasputin began acting as a healer for the Tsar and his wife Alexandra's son Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia and was Nicholas' only heir (Tsarevitch). At court, he was a divisive figure, seen by some Russians as a mystic, visionary, and prophet, and by others as a religious charlatan. The high point of Rasputin's power was in 1915, when Nicholas II left St Petersburg to oversee Russian armies fighting World War I, increasing both Alexandra and Rasputin's influence. As Russian defeats in the war mounted, however, both Rasputin and Alexandra became increasingly unpopular. In the early morning of 30 December [O.S. 17 December] 1916, Rasputin was assassinated by a group of conservative noblemen who opposed his influence over Alexandra and the Tsar.

Some writers have suggested that Rasputin helped discredit the tsarist government, and thus helped precipitate the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Romanov dynasty. Very little about Rasputin's life and influence is certain, however, as accounts have often been based on hearsay, rumor, and legend.

SOURCE: Wikipedia