Cossacks Russia The Jamestown Foundation

Russia’s Cossacks: Strategic Asset or Financial Liability? (Aslan Doukaev, The Jamestown Foundation)

The Cossack revivalist movement in southern Russia (and beyond) since the collapse of the Soviet Union is marked by two parallel tendencies. On the one hand, there is Cossack activism based on appeals to ancestral identity. This is geared not merely toward the revitalization of Cossack culture and way of life immortalized by Leo Tolstoy and Mikhail Sholokhov but also toward convincing the Kremlin that, despite the Soviet-era reprisals, the Cossacks are still a force to be reckoned with, and that they could serve as protectors of Russian interests, especially in frontier regions. “The main goal of Cossackdom in the North Caucasus is to serve as the guarantor of Russian presence in this geopolitically important region of the country,” the ataman (chieftain) of a Cossack organization in the southern Russian Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia said in an interview in early October (EADdaily, October 7).

Russia’s Cossacks: Strategic Asset or Financial Liability? – Jamestown