Kuban Cossacks on Horseback Again

Cossacks were forced to emigrate after the Civil war in Russia in the 1920s

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Precious Cossack mementos are returning to the Kuban region of Russia from the United States. Thousands of documents and photographs telling the history of the Kuban Cossacks in emigration were handed over to Cossack authorities in Krasnodar earlier this week. The ceremony was timed to coincide with the 150th founding anniversary of the Kuban Cossacks.

The 20s of the past century saw the appearance of Cossack villages in Europe, America and Australia. They were set up by Don, Kuban, Terek, Urals and other Cossacks who were forced to emigrate after the Civil war in Russia. They took with them their Cossack insignia: banners, chieftains’ maces, seals, certificates signed by the Czar, and lots of other historical relics. Natalia Korsakova is a senior researcher at the State Historical and Archeological Museum in Krasnodar.

"These are all sorts of letters, documents and decrees dating back to the period when a Cossack military force was formed in Russia. For 90 years, those relics and regalia were in emigration. The issue of brining them back was first raised in 1998 when the daughter of Chieftain Naumenko visited Kuban. Naumenko was a prominent Cossack leader and a White Army general. In 1920, he was elected Cossack emigree chieftain on the island of Lemnos, a post he held for 59 years, safeguarding Cossack military traditions."

Chieftain Naumenko’s daughter Natalia initiated the return of the relics. Among those that were turned over in the past three years are Cossack certificates issued by Empress Catherine II, 90 Cossack banners, photographs of Cossack emigrants, and other rarities. All of them are currently on display at the Krasnodar museum. Natalia Korsakova:

"Looking at those portraits, we can feel how Cossacks lived in emigration. The photographs showing them performing dare-devil acts on horseback at stadiums are particularly amazing. In the 1920s, Kuban Cossacks had all the stadiums of the world applauding them. They staged wonderful “Cossack Djigitting” shows admired by presidents and kings."

The newly-revived Kuban Cossack force currently numbers 42,000 men. They help patrol the border, fight crime, enforce law and order, and handle emergencies. The region has five Cossack cadet schools and the sixth one is due to open next year. Most of their graduates serve in the Presidential Guard.

Source: The Voice of Russia
15 October, 2010