Chess legend and political activist Gary Kasparov tweeted this New Year a claimed quote from Tsar Nicholas II’s diary: “The year 1916 was cursed; 1917 will surely be better!” (For those not versed in Russian history, 1917 was about as much worse as could be imagined. Tsar Nicholas was overthrown, and Russia was plunged into a long and devastating civil war, out of which eventually emerged the USSR.)

Was this really said or written by Tsar Nicholas, or was it made up more recently by Kasparov or someone else? The Tsar’s diaries do exist (see e.g. these excerpts from 1917), along with extensive collections of his correspondence, so it seems quite plausible, but in a bit of online searching I haven’t managed to find any more detailed/established sources that include it.

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    I don't remember saying that...
    – T. Sar
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 10:38

1 Answer 1


There is nothing so exciting in Nicholas II's December 31 1916 diary. What he actually wrote is

31-го декабря. Суббота.

Принял доклады: Шуваева, Кульчицкого и Фредерикса. До завтрака зашёл наверх к Алексею; его рука совсем поправляется. Завтракал и обедал Н. П. (деж.). Погулял с детьми. В 4 часа принял ген. Беляева и затем кн. Голицына. В 6 ч. поехали ко всенощной. Вечером занимался. Без 10 м. полночь пошли к молебну. Горячо помолились, чтобы Господь умилостивился над Россией!

This can be accessed here and translates as:

December 31st. Saturday.

Received reports: Shuvaev, Kulchitsky and Fredericks. Before breakfast I went upstairs to Alexei; his hand is completely better. Breakfast and dinner N.P. (dezh.). Walked with the children. At 4 o'clock received General Belyaev and then Prince Golitsyn. At 6 o’clock we went to the all-night service. Kept busy in the evening. At 10 minutes before midnight went to a prayer service. We prayed fervently that the Lord would have mercy on Russia!

TL;DR: rather dubious claim, probably a reference to recent Putin's speech.

After a little googling the original quote is:

Вот и заканчивается проклятый 1916 год. Надеюсь, что в 1917 будет полегче.

So the cursed year of 1916 comes to an end. I hope things will be easier in 1917.

The oldest (Dec 31 2016) occurence I could find is from user arye_11 in the comment feed of opposition-leaning Ekho Moskvy radio station. It's been removed from the original site since then, but you can still find it in Google cache. The commenter left no further hints to trace the source (such as date to look inside the diary). It is quoted as a conclusion of an anecdote from Tsar's life (original spelling):

Современники пишут, у Государя Николая Александровича было хобби, которому он предавался с упоением всей своей души.
Любил Император Российский стрелять ворон в дворцовых парках.
Стрелял хорошо, попадал часто, вел скрупулезный учет подстреленным птицам, коих общее число доходило до восьми тысяч.
Мастером был.
Стрелял бы и дальше, да обломали удовольствие.
Вот такой "святой человек". У него государство рушилось, земля из под ног уходила, а он находил радость в отстреле птиц.
Сохранилась запись из личного дневника Николая 2-го.
"Вот и заканчивается проклятый 1916 год. Надеюсь, что в 1917 будет полегче".
Сказка ложь, да в ней намек.

Contemproraries wrote that Lord Nikolay Aleksandrovich had a hobby that dedicated him with his whole soul.
The Russian Emperor loved to shoot ravens in his palace's parks.
He shot well, hit his targets often, precisely kept track of shot birds and their number hardly reached eight thousand.
He was a master.
He would shoot even more, yet his enthusiasm has broken down.
That kind of a "holy man" he was. His country was falling apart, the land was leaving from under his feet yet he was rejoicing by shooting at birds.
A note from his personal diary survived:
"So the cursed year of 1916 comes to an end. I hope things will be easier in 1917."
Well, well...
The story is a lie, yet allusion is there.

So it's possible that the quote was intended as a dramatization tool from it's very beginning.

Most of the times I found the quote, it's related to last New Year address by President of Russia Vladimir Putin which started with words:

The year 2016 is coming to a close. It was a challenging year, but the difficulties we faced have brought us together and allowed us to reveal enormous resources for our movement forward.

Hence, alleged Nicolas's quote is used to suggest that also Putin's era is nigh. That was definitely intention behind Kasparov's tweet. Considering quote's timing and lack of evidence proving otherwise, I find it very likely that it's fake.

  • 1
    The diary entries might not be the right place to look. The entries are a brief list of activities, with very little opinions. He did get emotional about burial of Rasputin, but said nothing about his death, or his own decision to resign (in February 2017). I will try to find his letters tonight, but I would not be surprized if Kasparov modified the quote, or use a source without verifying it.
    – Bald Bear
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 15:03

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