A Soldier-Martyr in Chechnya

An interesting story about Evgeny Rodionov (or Yevgeny Rodionov), a youthful and pious Russian soldier captured by Chechens and supposedly put to death after refusing to convert to Islam, has been doing the rounds. A martyrology has been written up in a pamphlet, “The New Warrior of Christ, Evgeny Rodionov”, by a colourful Orthodox Priest named Alexander Shargunov. Fr Shargunov manages to combine being an arch-nationalist, wanting an Orthodox monarchy, with being a supporter of the Communist party, which he believes could give the country strong government and would kick out the missionaries (I don’t read Russian, so I’m relying on this source for this). He is also responsible for a compilation called Tsar, By God Glorified, the Miracles of the Royal Martyrs III (scroll down) which contains some good old-fashioned anti-Semitism:

Even if many will become silent out of fear of the Jews about the murder of the Royal passion-bearers, the rocks will cry out: for the blood oozes out of the walls of Ipative house…

Rodionov is on fast-track to popular canonisation, despite some church resistance, and his icon has become popular among soldiers.

Perhaps the story of Rodionov’s murder is just as Fr Shargunov tells it, and a Chechen is quoted supporting the account. However, one wonders if the story has been embellished on stereotypical lines. The Brothers Karamazov contains an account of exactly the same story (Book III, Chapter 7, “Disputation”), set somewhere in Central Asia. The notes to my edition (Pevear and Volokhonsky 1991) state this was based on a true event which Dostoevsky mentions in his 1877 Diary of a Writer.

Of course, a Holy Martyr in Chechnya is just what’s needed now to stop Russians questioning what Russia is actually doing there in the frst place.

UPDATE (18 June): Shargunov reappears today.