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'key to Tsar's secret library' (800 missing manuscripts and book

Blind man 'has key to Tsar's secret library' (800 missing manuscripts
and books) (Times of London) AN ELDERLY and blind Moscow pensioner
claims to have the key to one of Russia's most enduring historical
riddles: the whereabouts of  Ivan the Terrible's secret library,
hidden beneath the Kremlin for more than four centuries. At a meeting
on Monday in his tiny flat this week with Yuri Luzhkov, Mayor of
Moscow, Apalos Ivanov, 87, said that he had visited the maze of
tunnels beneath Russia's seat of power and established where the
hundreds of unique books and manuscripts must have been hidden.
According to Tass, Mr Ivanov asked Mr Luzhkov to help to secure the
necessary permission and fund an archaeological team to find the lost
library. The fate of the estimated 800 books and manuscripts has
fascinated historians since they were lost during the reign of Ivan
IV, known as the Terrible (1530-1584). Although the library carries
the name of the most notorious Tsar, he inherited most of the
collection, assembled by his grandfather, Ivan the Great. The library
is thought to have contained some of the earliest books written in
Russian, but it is made up mostly of Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Egyptian
manuscripts transferred to Russia by Sophia Palaeologa, niece of the
last Byzantine Emperor, who married Ivan the Great. Historians know
about the existence of the library because Ivan the Terrible
instructed scribes to translate the books into Russian, although none
of the scholars was allowed access to the entire collection. According
to legend, the library once filled three halls and was so valued by
Ivan the Terrible that he built a vault to protect them from the fires
that regularly swept Moscow. Historians are divided on what happened
after Ivan's death. Some believe that the literary treasure was
destroyed by fire in 1547, 1571 or 1611. Another possibility is that
the manuscripts and books were removed from Moscow and taken to
Sergeyev Posad, 50 miles north of the capital, where Ivan moved his
court in the latter part of his reign. Historians, archaeologists,
Peter the Great and even the Vatican have searched fruitlessly for the
missing library for hundreds of years. One historian, who dedicated
his professional life to discovering the treasure, was blocked at
every attempt by the Kremlin's huge walls and foundations. After the
murder of the Bolshevik leader Sergei Kirov in Leningrad in 1934,
which became the pretext for Stalin's purges, the Soviet authorities
tightened security at the Kremlin and banned any further searches.
However, last year German Sterligov, a former businessman and amateur
historian, said that he was going to resume the hunt using X-ray
equipment. He planned to concentrate his efforts away from the Kremlin
because he was convinced that Stalin's secret police had combed every
inch of the fortification. Some unkind critics of Mr Luzhkov have
suggested that the latest hunt could simply be a publicity stunt timed
to coincide with the 850th anniversary celebrations of Moscow's
founding. Others are convinced that this time the missing collection
will be found, not least because Mr Ivanov is blind. According to
legend, anyone coming close to solving the mystery of the library
loses his sight.

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