"By 1916, Rasputin had become an important figure of the corruption of the Romanov court and it's treacherous, unpatriotic behavior.
"One idea was that he was a paid up German spy. It's doubtful. Rasputin was nothing if not indiscreet, and certainly talked to people with connections with the Germans.
"The Romanov court was full of Germans. The Empress herself was a German by origin.
"Therefore the notion while Russia was shedding it's blood on the Front, the court which was living very well – thank you very much – was in fact working in league with the Germans. So that was one way in which Rasputin became a symbol of corruption.
"The other of course, was his sexual scandals – a little bit like Marie Antoinette on the eve of the French Revolution. Rasputin's sexual skullduggery, his carrying-on with various society women, and his alleged carrying-on with the Empress herself, became a symbol for the political corruption of Russia which had penetrated the court itself. For many people on the fringes of the court, Rasputin's corruption was taken as the cause of all of Russia's problems itself.
"There was the belief that if one could get rid of Rasputin the revolution may not happen.
"It was very similar to the belief that if one could perhaps replace Nicholas himself with a more constitutionally minded emperor, the revolution would be adverted. So in a sense, Rasputin's assassination in December 1916, should be seen as just one of a number of palace coup plots – many of them involving the Romanov family itself – but all of them involving senior, liberal and monarchist politicians."