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|Birth name||Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Rodionov|
|Born||23 May 1977|
Penza Oblast, Russian SFSR, USSR
|Died||23 May 1996 (aged 19)|
Chechen Republic of Ichkeria
|Service/||FSS Border Service|
|Years of service||1995–1996|
|Unit||2631 Border Troops|
|Battles/wars||First Chechen War|
Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Rodionov (Russian: Евге́ний Алекса́ндрович Родио́нов; 23 May 1977 – 23 May 1996) was a Russian soldier who was taken prisoner of war by Chechen rebels and later executed in captivity. He has gained much admiration throughout Russia for the circumstances of his death, as his execution allegedly resulted from his refusal to convert to Islam and defect to the enemy side. Despite widespread popular veneration he has not been glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church as a New Martyr due to lack of evidence about his death.
Yevgeny Rodionov was born on 23 May 1977 in the village of Chibirley, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union, to Lyubov Vasiliyevna and Aleksandr Konstantinovich Rodionov. His father was a carpenter making furniture, his mother also had a degree in the same field of work.
In 1978, he was baptized as a Russian Orthodox at the age of one year, but wore no pectoral cross until the first one was given to him in 1988 or 1989, while attending church together with his grandmother.
After finishing ninth grade at a rural school of Kurilovo in Moscow Oblast, he began to work at a furniture factory and trained to be a driver.
Military service and capture
Though he aspired to be a cook, he was conscripted into the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in 1995. Private Rodionov was deployed to Chechnya, where he served in the Russian army's border troops. On 14 February 1996, he went to mount guard over the road accompanied by privates Andrey Trusov, Igor Yakovlev and Alexander Zheleznov. During the watch they stopped an ambulance, in which brigade general of "Chechen Republic of Ichkeria" Ruslan Khaikhoroev and a dozen rebel enforcers were transporting weapons. During their attempt to examine the ambulance, the young soldiers were overpowered and taken prisoners. After the soldiers were discovered to be missing, they were initially announced as deserters. Military police came home to Yevgeny Rodionov's mother to search for her missing son. Only later, after detailed survey of the checkpoint the soldiers had been manning, and detection of traces of blood and fighting, the military recognized that the missing soldiers had been taken prisoner.
On his 19th birthday, Rodionov was beheaded on the outskirts of the Chechen village Bamut. According to his killers, who later extorted money from his mother in exchange for knowledge of the location of his corpse, they beheaded him after he refused to renounce his Christian faith or remove the silver cross he wore around his neck. Ruslan Khaikhoroev later admitted the murder. In the presence of foreign representatives of OSCE he confessed: "Your [Yevgeny's mother] son had a choice to stay alive. He could have converted to Islam, but he did not agree to take the cross off. He also tried to escape once." On 23 May, after 100 days of imprisonment and torture, Rodionov was again ordered to remove the cross he was wearing and accept Islam. After his final refusal, Rodionov was beheaded while still alive. Andrey Trusov shared his fate, while Igor Yakovlev and Alexander Zheleznov were shot dead.
|Soldier, New Martyr|
|Born||May 23, 1977|
Chibirley, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Died||May 23, 1996 (aged 19)|
Chechen Republic of Ichkeria
|Venerated in||Folk Christianity, Russia|
|Major shrine||Kuznetsky District, Penza Oblast, Russia|
Yevgeny Rodionov was posthumously awarded the Russian Order of Courage. There was a growing movement within the Russian Orthodox Church to canonize him as a Christian saint and martyr for faith. Some Russian soldiers, feeling themselves abandoned by their government, have taken to kneeling in prayer before his image. One such prayer reads:
Thy martyr, Yevgeny, O Lord, in his sufferings hath received an incorruptible crown from Thee, our God, for having Thy strength he hath brought down his torturers, hath defeated the powerless insolence of demons. Through his prayers, save our souls.
As of 2003[update], religious icons depicting Yevgeny had become popular. His mother has one herself; she has suggested that the icon of her son sometimes emits a perfume which she believes to be holy, to the extent that it actually drips with it.
Because of the popular devotion given to the New Martyr Yevgeny, the pious faithful sought official canonization from the Moscow Patriarchate. Initially, it refused, which divided the Orthodox Church in Russia. Maksim Maksimov, Secretary of the Canonization Commission, explained the Synod's position in Tserkovny Vestnik (Church Bulletin), the official publication of the Russian Orthodox Church. His arguments can be summarized in three points:
- The only evidence that the soldier was executed for this faith is the testimony of his mother, who in her love made a god of her son;
- The Russian Orthodox Church has never canonized anyone killed in war;
- The period of new martyrs ended with the collapse of the Bolshevik regime.
However, he emphasized that the deceased can be honoured without canonization. Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow personally blessed the popular account of Yevgeny's life but worried that his cult would balloon into anti-Muslim rage.
Opponents of the decision, including Alexander Shargunov, a well-known priest, argued that an outbreak of people's love is enough for the truth and that Yevgeny's grave works miracles, curing the sick and reconciling enemies. They also pointed out that the soldier did not die at war but in captivity and that to say that the time of martyrs is over is nearly heresy.
- "Russian Soldier Goes Through Chechen Captivity Hell", Pravda Online, January 8, 2003
- Mydans, Seth (21 November 2003). "Kurilovo Journal; From Village Boy to Soldier, Martyr and, Many Say, Saint". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via NYTimes.com.
- "Boy soldier who died for faith made 'saint'", The Daily Telegraph, January 24, 2004
- "A Drive to Turn a Soldier Into a Saint", The Moscow Times, October 19, 2004
- Evgeniy Aleksandrovich Rodionov (1977-1996) Find A Grave memorial
- "From Village Boy to Soldier, Martyr and, Many Say, Saint", The New York Times, November 21, 2003
- "The First Saint of the Chechen War", RIAN, October 5, 2004