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July 23, 2020

Holy New Martyr Andrew Argunov (+ 1938)

St. Andrew Argunov (Feast Day - July 23)

Andrew Ivanovich Argunov was born into the peasant family of Ivan Kuzmich and Pelagia Vasilievna Argunov on October 13, 1904. Due to the early death of his father, the family began to be in dire need, but, despite this, Andrew managed to be educated in a rural school. After that, he was a handicraftsman, and worked in an artel, which was engaged in the production of toothbrushes. In addition to work, Andrew Argunov sang in the church choir and was the chairman of the parish council of the Protection of the Mother of God Church in the village of Prudtsy. The events that ultimately led to his death took place in the 1930s.

In 1933, in the countryside, as part of collectivization, a collective farm was organized, which had not only economic, but also political overtones. Since the collective farm ideologically declared itself "godless", 29-year-old Andrew Argunov did not join it. In the next three years, all of his property was taken away from him - a house, sheds, a barn, a horse and a cow.

In 1936, the authorities presented him as an individual farmer with requirements similar to the surplus appropriation. He was ordered to hand over to the state 60 kg of meat per year, which he obviously could not do. In October of the same year, local authorities planned to dismantle the brick fence of the church for the construction of a power plant:

Representative Local authorities:

In agreement with the regional executive committee, we ... held a meeting with the church council of the Protection Church on the issue of giving bricks from the church fence for the artel for the construction of a power plant and the installation of an engine ... Andrew Argunov, who is also the chairman of the church council, said that we did not give our consent and would not give, and so the Christian faith suffered greatly from the persecutors of the Church ...

After a speech ... regarding the Trotskyite-Zinovievist gang, hindering the strengthening of socialist society and the transition to a communist society, about the great construction in the USSR and the country's defense capability, Argunov replied that

“These people ... have suffered, perhaps for nothing. Perhaps such a fate will befall us, but since Christ bore his cross, he suffered for us, and we too must suffer from the persecutors of the Church for the faith of Christ. Here you [pointing in our direction] keep your leaders in the Kremlin behind a brick fence and walls, and you don’t disassemble the shrine, but you want to break our fence. We don't care about your power plant, no matter what you set up, and the time will come, when it will all collapse. "

- Application to the NKVD

In 1937, Andrew was arrested for selling toothbrushes made by him in the artel where he worked; and was sentenced to six months in prison. After his release, he was sentenced to forced labor for building a log house without the permission of the village council.

In July of the same year, Andrew was charged with refusing to supply the state with 60 kg of meat, at the same time the authors of the denunciation testified against him.

On September 14, 1937, Andrew was arrested and imprisoned in the Tagansky prison, and he was immediately interrogated, which was not the standard for that time. He was charged with "counter-revolutionary activity, and spreading slander against the Soviet regime." During the interrogation, he pleaded not guilty.

The following are from interrogation transcripts:

I spoke out against breaking down the church fence, and called for protest from all members of the parish council. I said that Christ bore His cross, and we must also suffer from the persecutors of the Church for the Christian faith. At the same time, pointing in the direction of the communists, I said: “You are guarding your leaders in the Kremlin behind a brick wall and yet you don’t break those walls; we don’t care about your power plant, no matter what is built. The time will come, and everything will collapse.” When meeting with people from the village of Prudtsy, I said: "We need to keep the faith and the Church, for if it doesn't exist, then we will all perish."

Investigator: Indicate the facts of your counter-revolutionary activities, which you conducted among the collective farmers.
Argunov: In May 1936, at the funeral of my relative, where collective farmers were present, a conversation about the existence of God came up. I began to prove that God exists. At the same time, I argued that the time will come when people will die like flies from hunger and disease, and from the sword of war for the sins of the people.
S: Point out what other facts of your counter-revolutionary statements among the collective farmers were?
A: When meeting with individuals from the village of Prudtsy, I expressed my religious convictions, declaring: "We need to keep the faith and the Church, for if it doesn't exist, then we will all perish."
S: Whom did you consider persecutors and enemies of the Church?
A: I consider the Communists to be the persecutors and enemies of the Church.
S: The investigation established that you spread counter-revolutionary slander against the Soviet regime. Give testimony on this matter.
A: Personally, I believe that the Soviet government is a persecutor of the Christian faith. About this I had statements ...

I consider the Communists to be persecutors and enemies of the Church. I do not consider my statements slanderous, for what I said was true.

On October 10, 1937, he was sentenced to eight years in a forced labor camp by a special troika under the UNKVD in the Moscow region. Andrew Argunov was sent to serve his sentence in Bamlag, where he did not work for a year. He died in custody on July 23, 1938 and was buried in an unknown grave.

The Moscow diocese presented Andrew Argunov for canonization, and on April 20, 2005, by the determination of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, he was glorified for general Church veneration as a martyr.