Fr. Anatoly Chistousov (in world Anatoly Ivanovich Chistousov, born 1953, Kirov — killed February 14, 1996, village Old Achkhoy, Chechnya) was a priest of Russian Orthodox Church, a rector of Michael Archangel church of city of Grozny, martyred in Chechnya.
Life in world
Father Anatoly Chistousov (full name is Anatoly Ivanovich Chistousov) was born in Kirov in 1953. He graduated a military college of navigators of the Air Forces and pedagogical institute (in absentia). In the eighties the XX-th century he served as the officer-tutor in one of military colleges of the city of Stavropol. In 1990 he became a parishener of a church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross in Stavropol just returned to believers after a few decades of Communism.
In 1993 he retired from of the army. The major of a reserve.
On March 18, 1994 by Metropolitan Gedeon (Dokukin) he was ordained a deacon.
On March, 20, 1994 he was ordained a priest. Before the ordination the metropolitan asked him: "And if you will be sent where it is restlessly, where it is dangerous, will you go?" He answered: "Where you will bless, Vladyko, there and I will go. No terrestrial circumstances are terrible for me"
The serving in Chechnya
On March 21, 1994 he was appointed to help protopriest Peter Netsvetayev, the dean of orthodox churches of the Chechen Republic. Receiving the appointment Father Anatoly at once departed to Grozny, where in that time it had been very dangerous.
Father Anatoly at once acquired the love of parisheners of Michael Archangel church and inhabitants of the city of Grozny. Implicitly he executed obediences appointed by the dean, visited parishes for fulfilling church services, served reverentially, aspired as soon as possible to learn services.
In December 1994 in Grozny the large-scale war operation began. The temple appeared in epicentre of fights; one of the first shells desroyed the second floor of the church house, some shells got to the temple. But divine services proceeded already in the church cellar. Father Anatoly in the cassock went fearlessly among bullets and shells to soldiers, to the remaining inhabitants hiding in cellars of houses in the city, confessed, partaked, baptized. His cassock was shot through by bullets in several places, but he again and again went to those who waited for him.
Soon after the beginning of war operations protopriest Peter Netsvetayev left the flared city and his flock. Without puzzling, Fr. Anatoly, still the beginning priest, headed the parish. The city was in fire, bullets whished, terrible explosions of aviabombs sowed destructions, but Fr. Anatoly continued to stay with his flock. He helped both Russians and Chechens as he could, shared the last that he had. Under his management the temple in baptistery, the only remained premises of the church house, has been arranged. Services in the new arranged temple were made constantly.
On New Year's Eve of 1995 he was forcibly taken by bandits to the Grozny railroad station, where he was ordered to appeal to Russian defense forces to surrender. In response, Fr Anatoly nothing said and only silently blessed the soldiers.
Since March, 15th, 1995 he was appointed the rector of Michael Archangel church in Grozny and the dean of orthodox churches in Chechnya. In view of disastrous financial conditions of the parish, metr. Gedeon decided to provide it from Diocese funds.
Captivity and Martyr Death
On January 29th, 1996, during the First Chechen war, he together with together with archpriest Sergius Zhigulin from External Church Relations Department were going to meet with Brigadier General Akhmed Zakayev to negotiate the release of a soldier of the Federal Forces from chechen captivity, however on the way to the Chechen capital from Urus-Martan, after negotiations they were captured by the armed group under Doku Makhayev's command themselves and were placed in a concentration camp of so-called «Department of state security of the Chechen republic Ichkeria».
On the end of first days of the captivity the prisoners under the offer of Father Anatoly made the Eucharist with available for them bread, consecrating it with their prayers to Body of Christ so that to have possibility to partake further.
From memoirs of Fr. Sergius: «When we shared the Sacrament, Father Anatoly extraordinary expressively looked at me, and I saw: there was occured with him that is called as transfiguration. The face of father Anatoly became surprisingly light, his widely opened eyes were full unprecedented before of light. He said: «Listen, brother, for this happiness is to suffer for the Christ, to die with His name on lips».
Further the prisoners was divided from each other. Fr. Anatoly was exposed to torture, but did not stipulated himself and not renounced belief and, as a result, has been shot by bandits. He was martyred in February 14th, 1996.
Fr. Sergius survived, he was released only after 160 days.
On april 29, 2000 Federal Security Service of the Russia passed to metr. Kyrill of Smolensk, Chairman of the External Church Relations Department of the Moscow Patriarchate, a selection of the documents testifying to destiny of the priest of Michael Archangel church Anatoly Chistousov, abducted by the Chechen terrorists on January, 29th, 1996. During the period, when a destiny of fr. Anatoly remained unknown, the Church hierarchy undertook attempts of liberating the abducted priest, as well as and other clergymen and the children of Church captivated in the Chechnya. Sometimes prisoners eventually found freedom, in other cases, to a regret, they was executed by gangsters and reposed in settlements of the righteous.
Remains of father Anatoly were exhumated just in July, 2003 in mountains near Old Achkhoy. Now he has been buried on the Stavropol cemetry.