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The Russian Cossacks at the beginning of the XXI century: politological analysis of structure and trends of revival

 © 2003 A.G. Masalov


Process of revival of the Russian Cossacks began spontaneous self-organization of separate informal groups of enthusiasts in the 80th of the 20th century. For the last years the social community having an ethnonym "Cossacks" acquired elaborate structure in which analysis it is possible to use various bases. For example, allocation of the Don, Kuban, tersky, Transbaikal Cossacks is based on identification of hereditary Cossacks on belonging to traditional Cossack troops and residence. This community is differentiated also on ethnic and confessional signs. Representatives more than 40 ethnic groups practising Orthodoxy and other religions served in XVIII - the beginning of the 20th century in the Cossack troops. Modern associations of Cossacks also keep multicomponent structure. So, in Tersky army Cossack society except Russians and Ukrainians, Ossetians and representatives of other mountain people and other ethnic groups consist. The Old Belief is professed by descendants of the Don Cossacks - nekra-sovtsev. In the Orenburg army Cossack society about 30% are made by Muslims. As a part of the Transbaikal army Cossack society and the Kalmyk Cossack army a significant amount of Cossacks from the indigenous people professing the Buddhism. But today, as well as in the past, in structure of the Cossacks, Russians of orthodox religion prevail. For example, in the Kuban army Cossack society the Russians make 88.2%, Ukrainians - 9.3, Belarusians - 1.1, representatives of other ethnic groups - 1.4% [1]. Thus, the modern Russian Cossacks are polnetnichny and polikonfessnonalny social community with the dominating number of Russians of orthodox religion.

In connection with the statements of the Cossack societies for readiness for performance of the responsible functions of public service peculiar to political institute, their structural analysis with use of political criteria is of special interest. In particular, allocation of groups with various level of political activity can be carried out with use of a scale of quality indicators with extreme points: "do not participate in policy" (a zero indicator) and "high political activity" (maximum indicator). The political activity of the Cossacks and its separate groups is unstable. It increases at a complication of a social situation in concrete regions and on the eve of the elective campaigns. For example, the Cossack societies of the Rostov region it is active under -

derzhivat V.F. Chuba who is the Honourable ataman of the Don Cossacks at his re-election as the governor of the region, and the Stavropol district Cossack society of Tersky Cossack army supported A.L. Chernogorov on elections of the governor of Stavropol Krai.

Participants of a constituent congress of the Russian political party "Cossacks of Russia" called Cossacks for more active participation in policy (Samara, May, 2002). Its creation was opposed by many register Cossack societies. Short division into supporters and opponents of party had no significant effect on structure of the Cossacks, and the initiator of its creation the ataman of the Volga army Cossack society B.N. Gusev said on the Big circle of the Cossack societies of Russia (Stavropol, 25.05.03) that after liquidation of management of the President of Russia concerning the Cossacks in February, 2003 the urgent need in the Cossack party disappeared [2].

The political activity of the Cossack societies directly depends on the purposes of their activity. So, the most part of associations of Cossacks plays for the uniform and indivisible state, is ready to participate in its strengthening. But some Cossack public organizations entering into "Great brotherhood of the Cossack troops" demand Kazakiya's creation - the sovereign Cossack state in places traditional (till 1920) compact accommodation of Cossacks in the North Caucasus, the Lower and Middle Volga, the Urals and Priaralye. The similar ideas of repartition of the state territory do not get mass support of Cossacks, but generate the relation which was alerted to them at public authorities.

"the nature of the relations of the Cossacks and the state" especially is distinguished from the criteria applied to the politological analysis. It can be determined by a scale of quality indicators which main points are "active cooperation" (positive maximum), "lack of the relations" a zero point), "active counteraction" (negative maximum). With use of such scale in structure of the Cossacks two main parts come to light. The first of them actively interacts with the state, is ordered with its help and represents the system of the army and other Cossack societies included in the state register of the Russian Federation. The "register" system works in 56 territorial subjects of the federation. It includes 10 army (The Volga, Vseveliky army Don, Yenisei, Transbaikal, Irkutsk, Kuban, Orenburg, Siberian, Tersky, Ussuriysk) also 15 separate district Cossack societies with the total number more than 600 thousand Cossacks from which about 230 thousand expressed readiness to bear public service. Preparation for inclusion in the state register of army Cossack society "Cossack Army of the Center of Russia" is conducted [3].

Now three army Cossack societies - Vseveliky army Don (The Rostov and Volgograd regions), Kuban (Krasnodar Krai, Adygea and Karachay-Cherkessia) and Terskoye, for example, work in places of the traditional and historical arrangement in the North Caucasus (Stavropol Krai, North Ossetia - Alania, Dagestan, Chechnya). Their social base is made by numerous hereditary Cossacks. For example, in the Rostov region Cossacks of consider more than 1 million, in Krasnodar Krai - to 1.3 million, in Stavropol Krai - about 400 thousand people [4].

The second, unsystematized part of the Cossacks is presented by amateur public organizations which oppose strengthening on them the state influence. Because of it the movement was divided into opponents and supporters of register forms of association where about a half of Cossacks of earlier created public organizations entered, and in 83 territorial subjects of the federation about 600 small Cossack public associations are registered [4]. However the most part from them could not confirm the compliance to regulatory requirements. So, for 01.06.03 in Stavropol Krai a re-registration there took place only 4 of 39 public associations having the Cossack names. In some republics of the North Caucasus the Cossack public associations enjoying special support of local political elite, but not entering the state register of the Russian Federation are created. For example, in Kabardino-Balkaria the public organization Tersko-Malkinsky Cossack District numbering about 2.5 thousand people is created. In Ingushetia there were units of hereditary Cossacks and in three Cossack public organizations there are about 100 members. In Chechnya as opposed to register Tersko-Sunzhensky district Cossack society the public association "Chechen Cossack Army" in which the Muslim Chechens who do not have a historical link to the Cossacks are accepted is created. Such Cossack public organizations often counteract register Cossack societies and are used by national political elite for demonstration of their loyal attitude towards the Cossacks in difficult socio-political conditions.

A significant amount of hereditary Cossacks for various reasons was not included into the Cossack societies and public organizations. For example, formally in the course of revival descendants of Cossacks-nekrasovtsev who in 1962 reemigrirovat from Turkey do not participate and compactly live in Levokumsky district of Stavropol Krai, carefully keeping patriarchal subculture of "free" Cossack communities of Central Don (prior to the beginning of the 18th century).

There are also other criteria of stratification of the Cossack social community. The structural analysis which is carried out with their use allows to draw a conclusion that the modern Cossacks are multicomponent social community as which major gruppoobrazushchy factor serves self-identification of citizens with the traditsionnorossiysky Cossacks, remaining in social structure of Russia till November, 1917 as special military estate.

Ideological disagreements of public organizations interfere with their association among themselves and with register Cossack societies in a uniform system that does not promote the consolidated solution of many problems of revival and development of the Russian Cossacks.

The nature of the modern relations of the Cossacks and the state is nonlinear and depends on many factors. So, in the late eighties the movement for revival of the Cossacks began on a public initiative from below and got support from above from some representatives of party and state elite who tried to keep the Soviet political system by means of cooperation of the state with the patriotic social communities similar to the Cossacks. However in connection with its crisis state at the beginning of the 90th the Cossack organizations began to solve problems of the revival independently. But as in a socio-political system there are no vacant positions and roles, their activity broke the developed balance of interests of other social communities which protect the places and roles in society, render the open or hidden counteraction to the Cossack movement. Therefore in the course of revival of the Cossacks the action two opposite directed "about-" and the "anti-Cossack" socio-political forces, according to supporting the movement or interfering it is noted.

By criterion it is possible to differentiate "the nature of the relations to the Cossacks" not only public authorities, but also other social institutes and groups which are compactly living, for example, in North Caucasus region. Here as the main arguments of political struggle at the end of the 20th century the collected national problems and the geopolitical interests of the foreign states, international corporations and criminal groups given for them acted. They stimulated various forms of ethnic, patrimonial, clan, teypovy and other mobilization of title ethnic groups on fight against such enemies of the people as foreigners and gentiles. Division of fellow citizens on personal and others', national mobilization of title ethnic groups in the republics of the North Caucasus generated administrative, economic and physical replacement of not title people which the Cossacks living here more than three centuries and considered were among for a long time

radical [5]. But in 80 - the 90th the state weakened by system crisis could not resist effectively to local separatism and nationalism therefore their reciprocal self-identification and self-organization became natural reaction of not title ethnic groups to real threat to vital interests. The Cossacks oppressed by local nationalists reestablish the prirodnoistorichesky communication with the traditional Russian Cossacks, try to stabilize with combined forces a socio-political situation in the region. Their activity answers the purpose of preservation and development of the Russian state. In this regard the Cossack movement in the North Caucasus became citizens' initiative on compensation of shortcomings of the government by forces of public mechanisms of the political power of civil society.

Associations of Cossacks unsatisfied with activity of the pro-communistic and pro-democracy authorities in 1991 - 1995 stood in opposition to them, carried out actions of a civil protest (meetings, blocking of thoroughfares, office buildings, etc.). Their mass character and organization forced political elite of Russia to recognize the socio-political importance of the Cossacks, to try to win round it and to include in the government mechanism. In turn the Cossack associations were interested in cooperation with public authorities as without their support they could not solve many problems independently. Thereof the period of confrontation of the Cossacks with the state (the beginning - the middle of the 90th) was replaced by the period of their cooperation (second half of the 90th). Indicators of rule-making activity of federal bodies are empirical signs of it. So, if in 1991-1994 the federal bodies issued 11 legal acts of the Cossacks, including 6 decrees and orders of the President of Russia, then for 1995-1998 - 62 and 42 relevant documents [6]. Experiments on involvement of Cossacks to military, boundary, law-enforcement and to other types of service were successfully made. At that stage the Cossacks promoted an exit of the state from system crisis.

However in the next years the activity of interaction of the state with the Cossacks decreased - since the end of the 90th the scales of cooperation were reduced, experiments on the organization of service of Cossacks stopped.

Among the reasons of change of nature of the attitudes of public authorities towards the Cossacks we will especially note the following:

1) by the end of the 20th century the federal center strengthened a power vertical and overcame centrifugal movements of separatists owing to what long-term crisis of political system declined and requirements of the state for political support the civil general were sharply reduced

stvo. Therefore, reduction of activity of the Cossack associations as element of civil society, corresponds to the ideas of centralization of the government.

2) the Cossack societies attracted to public service express the need of equalizing with public servants on the wage level and social guarantees. But the state limited to resources cannot meet in full such natural requirements of the volunteer assistants and reduces cooperation with them though expensive public institutions are seldom more effective than the Cossack societies.

Considerable reduction of number of the accepted normative documents became objective indicators of decrease in attention of the federal authorities to the Cossacks: for 1999 - 2002 by federal bodies it is published 26 (decrease in rule-making activity by 2.4 times) [6]. Government budgets 1999 - did not provide 2001 financing of the target government program of support of the Cossack societies [7].

Owing to reduction of the state support growth rates of number in the Cossack societies entered in the state register by the Russian Federation considerably decreased. So, if for the first years of the organization of register Cossack societies (1995 - 1998) the number of Cossacks in them grew from 113.4 to 638.5 thousand members (growth by 5.6 times), then for 1999 - 2002 - to 659.4 thousand (growth by 3.2%) [8]. At the same time potential opportunities of development of data of societies are not exhausted. For example, in the Rostov region, the Stavropol and Krasnodar regions no more than 10% of number of the citizens self-identifying with the Cossacks during the sociological polls in the mid-nineties [9] actively participate in them.

The politological analysis of process of revival of the Russian Cossacks at the end of XX - the beginning of the 21st century shows that the uniform state and public mechanism of revival is not created, its multiple fragments which are spontaneously created in territorial subjects of the Russian Federation are not systematized therefore the essence of revival of the Cossacks is defined as socio-political activities of descendants of Cossacks for realization of the requests for the high socio-political status and performance of responsible state functions and also the needs of the state and society connected with granting opportunities to the Cossack societies for this purpose.

Such situation does not answer strategic objectives of development of civil society therefore cannot long proceed. Trends of formation of the Cossack legislation demonstrate to it. As the first attempts of adoption of the federal law on the Cossacks in 1997 - 2002 were unsuccessful [10], the regulatory base for revival of the Cossacks is created by public authorities of territorial subjects of the Russian Federation. Laws about kaza-

a chestvo are accepted in Kalmykia, Karachay-Cherkessia, Krasnodar, by Krasnoyarsk and Primorsk regions, the Volgograd, Orenburg and Rostov regions. In May, 2003 the State Duma of Stavropol Krai approved the draft of the regional law "About the Cossacks in Stavropol Krai" in the first reading. The relevant bills and in other regions are drafted. At the same time various rates of rule-making in territorial subjects of the Russian Federation are noted that indicates the various nature and level of activity of the relations of public authorities and the Cossack associations in them.

According to the Decree of the President of Russia of 25.02.03 No. 249 "About Improvement of Activities for Revival and Development of the Russian Cossacks" the reforming of the public authorities providing interaction with the Cossack societies is begun, there is a preparation of the new concept of state policy on the Cossacks, drafts federal law on the Russian Cossacks and the state program of support of the Cossack societies will be drafted [3].

Resumption of trends of active cooperation of the Cossack societies and public authorities requires uniform state policy on the Cossacks and the multilevel gosudarstvennoobshchestvenny mechanism capable to provide its realization. Until formation of such mechanism is ended and public authorities should take effective measures for its development.

In turn the Cossack societies need to improve their structure, to develop cooperation with public authorities and local government, to involve bigger number of Cossacks in the state and useful activity.

Obviously, only their joint efforts it is possible to improve significantly the state and public mechanism of revival of the Cossacks and its participation in development of the Fatherland.

of the Note

1. Sheet of reports of the Kuban army Cossack society of 20.12.01//Office-work of the Kuban army Cossack society. 2002.
2. See: Report of the ataman of the Volga Cossack army Cossack colonel B. Gusev of N//Protocol of the Big circle of the Cossack troops of Russia. Stavropol, 2003. May 25.
3. See: Report of the Adviser to the President of the Russian Federation colonel general G.N. Troshev//In the same place.
4. See: I.Yu. Golovlev. A social base of revival of the Cossacks to Stavropol Territory//Problems of revival of the Cossacks: Collection of articles by participants of II Vseros. nauch. - prakt. konf. Stavropol, 1993. Page 35.
5. See, for example: Russians - in the victim (about revival of the Cossacks in the North Caucasus)//the Legal newspaper. 1992. No. 43; Arsenyev M. Cossack areas

Chechnya have to remain Cossack//the Cossack Terek. 2001. No. 1 (32); P. Evdokimov. Chechen calendar//Special troops of Russia. 2000. No. 12; M.I. Serkov. To give hope for worthy life//the Cossack Terek. 2003. No. 3 - 4 (58-59), etc.

6. Counted on: Normative legal acts of the President of Russia, the Government of the Russian Federation concerning the Cossacks. M, 2002.
7. See: About the Federal target program of the state support of the Cossack societies for 1999 - 2001. Russian Federation Government decree of 21.07.99//Collection of the legislation Russian Federation. 1999. No. 4. Article 557.
8. Counted on: The list of the Cossack societies entered in the state register of the Cossack societies in the Russian Federation//Office-work of management of the Russian President concerning the Cossacks. 2002.
9. Counted according to sheets of reports of the relevant army Cossack societies//In the same place.
10. "About the Federal law "About the Cossacks" the bill is removed by the resolution of the State Duma of the Russian Federation of 11.10.02 No. 674-111 of the State Duma from further consideration.

Krasnodar legal institute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation,

Stavropol branch On June 17, 2003

Adam Parsons
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