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A person exercising an insidious or corrupting influence, especially over a ruler or governor; from the acquired name (lit. ‘debauchee’) of the Russian monk Grigory Yefimovich Novykh (c.1865–1916), mystic and influential favourite at the court of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. This influence, combined with his reputation for debauchery, steadily discredited the imperial family, and he was assassinated by a group loyal to the tsar; the murder was first attempted by poison, to which he proved impervious, and he was finally shot.

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