Neo-martyr Evgeny Rodionov
The neo-martyr Evgeny Rodionov was a soldier in the First Chechen War under Yeltsin. He was captured by Chechnyan guerillas, tortured, slaughtered like a lamb and beheaded when he refused to become a Muslim and fight against Russia, as the executioner himself told his mother.
He was beheaded in 1996 on the day of his nineteenth birthday. Even though he did not grow up in pious surroundings, he would never take off the small cross that his grandmother had given him on his eleventh birthday. By this small cross his mother recognized his body as it was lying in a mass grave with three other fellow soldiers. For his brave refusal to be separated from that cross and deny his faith in the Crucified One, he was slaughtered like a lamb on 10/23 May 1996. His severed head was buried elsewhere by the Islamic guerillas.
His grief-stricken mother started searching alone to find her son as soon as she learned that he was being held captive. She started looking in mid February 1996 and continued her search for nine months. She was informed that he was dead in September of 1996. She then mortgaged her house in Moscow to get money, which was necessary for an exchange with the guerillas, and started to look for the place where her son was buried. From the start of her searching she came in touch with the Islamic separatists, she suffered hardships and her life was threatened from an untold number of dangers. However, she finally managed to speak to the same man who murdered her son, Ruslan Khaikhoroyev.
He told her that Evgeny had been given a chance to save his life but refused to take off his cross and become a Muslim, and he even tried to escape once.
His mother refused to believe that her son was not alive, even when she recognized his boots during his disinterment. When, however, she saw the small cross on his headless body she could not endure it and she fainted.
She finally persuaded them to allow her to take the bodies of Evgeny and of his fellow soldiers by paying the "ransom." She transferred the bodies to Moscow where the funeral took place. Evgeny’s father died from sorrow five days after the burial of his son.
His mother is also in the video and is known in many parts of Russia as "the mother of Evgeny.”
He is honored more and more in Russia as time goes by. Already books have been published about his life and martyrdom with the blessing of the late Patriarch of Russia, Alexis II. There is a church named in his honor, a service of supplication has been written and many icons of him have been produced (some of them myrrh-flowing.)
Of course, the Church has not yet included Neo-martyr Evgeny in the "Hagiologion" (Register of Saints), but it is not expected to take very long.