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De nieuwe heilige

Documentary film, 2010, 70 min.

In 1996, Chechen rebels captured the Russian border guard Yevgeni Radionov. He refused to convert to Islam and was decapitated. In subsequent years, Radionov literally and figuratively turned into an icon in Russia. His grave, which also lodges his untimely deceased brother and father, draws a stream of visitors, all with different motives. In the meantime, people try to get him canonised. The Russian-orthodox church, however, is not convinced Yevgeni died a martyr?s death for his faith.
De nieuwe heilige is both a portrait of the 19-year-old soldier and his mother, who frantically looked for her son for nine months. She gives her sad account by the family grave to throngs of visitors, like war veterans and Russian Hells Angels. She also appears in archive footage of Russian television. This is crosscut with images of the cadet school where children of deceased Russian soldiers are trained. Meanwhile, a woman makes a gilded icon of Radionov: a soldier with a Kalashnikov as a new saint.

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