Dashkova Centre

Moral exemplarity in post-Soviet Russia

This talk explores the developing cult of the Russian soldier Evgenii Rodionov, killed in 1996 in Chechen captivity, allegedly for his refusal to take off his cross and convert to Islam. Widely embraced as a symbol of spiritual strength, Rodionov is both hailed as a Russian national hero and venerated as a Christian martyr by some Orthodox believers. Despite the Russian Orthodox Church’s refusal to canonize the soldier in 2004, many Orthodox believers make pilgrimages to his grave, paint icons of him, and pray to him. I argue that the appeal of the soldier’s figure reflects a trend of longing for spirituality in post-Soviet Russia, which developed in response to the perceived moral collapse following the democratic transition. I trace the historical evolution of Rodionov’s representations. Through investigating how Rodionov’s image is employed as a public symbol of patriotism and private moral exemplar for militaristically-oriented young men, I seek to contribute to an understanding of the entangled relationship between religion, nationalism, and conservative morality in contemporary Russia.

Victoria Fomina is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Central European University in Budapest. Through comparative exploration of modern martyr cults in Russia and Cyprus, she studies the relationship between nationalism, religion, and militarism and sheds light on the broader phenomenon of the rise of moral conservatism in contemporary societies.

Moral exemplarity in post-Soviet Russia

This talk by Victoria Fomina about the cult of new martyr Evgenii Rodionov, a soldier who was killed in Chechnya, explores how he has become a public symbol of patriotism and private moral exemplar.

Princess Dashkova Russian Centre
19 Buccleuch Place