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HOLY WARRIORS is a film about five Russian soldiers who fought in many wars from Afghanistan to Chechnya and found spirituality as a result.

priestThe Priest
Lt.-Col. Father Nicolas, Ret.
Father Nicolas, AKA Lt.-Col. Kravchenko, is a former sniper who fought in four wars, from Afghanistan to Tajikistan to two Chechen wars, and in numerous "war conflicts." After experiencing clinical death, he realized that "there are no atheists in the foxhole." He says, "atheism ends where questions of life and death begin."

muslimThe Muslim
Sergei "The Muslim" Birk, trained Mojahideen in Afghanistan in 2001.
Sergei "The Muslim" Birk had a religious experience while fighting in Karabakh. He met a mullah in a destroyed village and after speaking with him for many hours realized that the answers to all major life questions can be found in the Koran. Sergei fought in many wars, including going to Afghanistan in 2001 as a volunteer, "after the Russians got out and before the Americans got there." He insists he is not a mercenary, that he did not fight for money. Being a sniper for him is his nature. He calls himself a beast, a predator.

shamanThe Shaman
Maj. Alexander "The Shaman" Tarabanovsky, Ret.
Hero of Russia nominee.
Alexander Tarabanovsky, nicknamed "The Shaman" by his military comrades, was the commander of a platoon and because of the shamanism, because of his spirits, he says no one in his platoon died: "I don't think it was because of my skill, he says. "I think it was because of the amulets that I had. Nobody died who had amulets." Tarabanovsky is now a bouncer in a local bowling alley in the city of Krasnodar. In 2001, he was nominated for the Hero of Russia title by President Putin.

spyThe Muslim Spy
Zhanna Ismailova, AKA "Jamal Ismail."
Soviet Spy in Afghanistan for 13 years.
Zhanna Ismailova is an orphan from Tajikistan, former Soviet Republic. She grew up in a Russian orphanage and was sent to the military academy when she was a teenager. Later on, she spent years in Afghanistan as a spy. "I had to kill," she says. "It was only scary the first time. But you have to shoot first if you don't want to be killed." She now lives in the south of Russia with her grandchildren.

saintThe Saint
Pvt. Rodionov
Soldier, Martyr, Popular Hero
Pvt. Sergei Rodionov was captured by the Chechen fighters in the 90's and killed for allegedly refusing to renounce his Christian religion. He was canonized by the Russian church shortly afterwards. His mother, a member of the communist party for 20-some years, is trying to reconcile with the fact that her son is now a martyr and a saint.

New York Times article on The Saint.