Who can be counted among the Cossacks, how Cossack formations reduce the risk of inter-ethnic clashes in southern Russia and how Cossack communities live abroad, told the Voice of Russia the supreme ataman of the Union of Cossack troops in Russia and abroad, Viktor Vodolatsky.
Guest in the studio "Voices of Russia" - Viktor Petrovich Vodolatsky, supreme ataman of the Union of Cossack troops in Russia and abroad, member of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, member of the State Duma Committee on Defense, chairman of the Commission on the spiritual, moral and patriotic education of children and youth Council under the President of the Russian Federation inter-ethnic relations.
Kosachev: Good afternoon, morning or evening, dear listeners of the radio station "Voice of Russia". With you, as always, I, Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Federal Agency for CIS Affairs, compatriots living abroad and international humanitarian cooperation, the special envoy of the Russian president for relations with the CIS member states.
With undisguised pleasure, I introduce my guest, a competent interlocutor. Firstly, because we have known each other for a long time and until recently were colleagues in the State Duma. Secondly, because this person is really highly competent in a field that is of direct interest to our audience.
So, Viktor Petrovich Vodolatsky - State Duma deputy, chairman of the subcommittee on patriotic education of children and youth, interaction with the DOSAAF and public organizations of the State Duma Committee on Defense, chairman of the Commission on spiritual, moral and patriotic education of children and youth of the Council under the President of the Russian Federation on interethnic relations.
If I am confused, correct me. But the most important thing (and in this capacity, I would especially like to introduce Viktor Petrovich Vodolatsky) is the supreme ataman of the Union of Cossack troops in Russia and abroad.
Vodolatsky: Good health to all. For the Cossacks - great day, Cossack brothers!
Kosachev: In our conversation, I would like to go from the general to the particular. Some questions I will ask, already knowing the answers to them, some - even without assuming that you will answer. How to say: Cossacks or Cossacks?
Vodolatsky: Cossacks - for those who descend from the Don Cossacks, and this is 10 from 11 Cossack troops of Russia. Kuban - Cossacks, they come from the Cossacks.
Kosachev: How many Cossacks are now in Russia, around the world? Do you, as I understand it, are the main Cossack of both Russia and the whole of Russian abroad?
Vodolatsky: Today in the state register of the Russian Federation there are 780 thousands of Cossacks who have assumed obligations to carry the civil service. Considering the latest data, which was voiced by Alexander Dmitriyevich Beglov, Chairman of the Council for Cossack Affairs under the President of the Cossacks, there are more than 7 million Cossacks living in Russia and scattered around the world.
Kosachev: What does the Cossacks concept include? What is it - nationality, profession, vocation, hobby? What is Cossacks for you?
Vodolatsky: I always say: on the topic of Cossacks and Cossacks today written 28 doctoral dissertations and 136 candidate. None of them gives a clear definition. I always use the definition of my famous countryman Mikhail Alexandrovich Sholokhov, who in the work “The Quiet Don”, for which he received the Nobel Prize, said: “The Cossacks are kept from the Cossacks”.
В stories Russia in the Soviet period said that the Cossacks were fugitive peasants who fled serf Russia to the outskirts and created Cossack groups there. But all studies show, then this is a lie. The fugitive peasants could not create powerful troops that did everything to make Russia grow to the size it has today.
In the capture of Azov, which is inscribed in golden letters in the history of Russia, 5 thousands of Cossacks opposed the 230-thousandth Turkish army. The conquest and development of Siberia - Ermak, Dezhnev and Atlasov. In Kamchatka, the Far East, in Siberia there are graves of Cossacks. As Leo Tolstoy said, "Russia grew by the graves of Cossacks."
In modern Russia, this is a subgroup of the Russian people, and the head of the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation spoke about this, when in the census two columns for the Pomorians and Cossacks were taken separately to calculate how many Russian people are in the Russian census.
After Peter I, the Cossack military class was instituted, before that, the Cossacks in the census sheets of the Russian Empire were listed as people along with Russians, Ukrainians and others.
Kosachev: That is, it stopped only after the revolution, with the Soviet authorities?
Vodolatsky: No, it stopped after Peter I.
Kosachev: The 780 thousands that you just mentioned are voluntary registration, is it the will of those who took the census, or your organization has its own registers, the Union of Cossack troops, maybe they are maintained by troops? I know that you were until recently the ataman of the Great Don Army. How is Cossack accounting organized in Russia?
Vodolatsky: Each Cossack undertakes a voluntary obligation to bear the civil service, fills out a registration card from the 11 types of civil service by presidential decree, chooses what he likes. This is either the protection of public order, or the education of the younger generation. This is a Cossack education - we have a developed system of Cossack cadet corps, where we are raising true patriots of modern Russia. This and issues related to the municipal service.
Each army keeps such records - the register, and it all comes down to the general database of the Presidential Council for Cossack Affairs, which is headed by Alexander Dmitrievich Beglov. 780 thousand - it's all the Cossacks who are at the disposal of the head of the presidential council.
Kosachev: Is it possible to say that all these 780 thousands are active, conscious Cossacks, each of whom takes his responsibility with full responsibility? Or is there, as often happens, your asset, your passive, your formalists? Is it possible to exclude a person from this registry if he does not fulfill his obligations?
Vodolatsky :: It is always possible to exclude - and for violation as well. But, naturally, it cannot be excluded from the Cossacks, because a man is a Cossack by birth. And from the Cossack society - yes, you can exclude. Likewise, a Cossack can be accepted into a Cossack society, who assumes obligations or agrees with the charter that the President of the Russian Federation stated earlier, today the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.
Naturally, in every organization there are members who are engaged in vigorous activity, and those who work in production. These are teachers, agricultural workers, municipal employees. Cossacks are engaged in all areas of activity.
But, if, God forbid, something happens, we always stand in line and are always ready to come to the aid of the president as supreme commander and the whole of Russia. Today it is the most active part of the citizens of our great Russia.
Kosachev: How is the status of the Cossacks, the Cossack movement in the Russian Federation regulated by law?
Vodolatsky: If we take the federal level, there is Federal Law No. 154 "On the State Service of the Russian Cossacks", the State Duma adopted it in the 1995 year, then it was amended. There are 11 decrees of the President of the Russian Federation, 38 regulatory acts of the Russian government.
By the way, the government of the Russian Federation has an authorized body to work with the Cossacks - this is the Ministry of Regional Development of Russia, where there is a separate department that conducts concrete work with the executive authorities on interaction with the Cossacks.
As for the territory of the subjects of the federation, today there are 432 regulatory legal acts in various regions of the Russian Federation, where Cossack troops of Russia are active. Of the 83 subjects in 76, Cossack society is actively working and developing.
Kosachev: How consolidated are the structures that exist in various regions of the Russian Federation? Are they united in a common Russian structure, or are they competing with each other?
Vodolatsky: In the 1996 year, I believe, there was an artificial division of the Cossacks into public and registered, when the Cossacks were united. After the introduction of these legal documents, the Cossacks were divided: some wanted to be active participants in the civil service, and public organizations remained.
Today in the Russian Federation there is a clear division: some Cossacks in the register are historical Cossack troops (the 10 Cossack troops of Russia, the Urals remained outside of Russia - in Kazakhstan). And there are public organizations that are on the territory of Russia, they are united by two structures - the Union of Cossacks of Russia (headed by Pavel Filippovich Zadorozhny) and the Union of Cossack troops in Russia and abroad, which I head.
There are few Cossack communities at the municipal level - there are about 600 such organizations. In any case, they are at the regional level in the registry. It is this division of the Cossacks (we share it ourselves, no one forces it) that led to the fact that today there is no clear consolidating force. Although there are talks among the Cossacks in order to create an association of public Cossack organizations in the near future, so that there are two powerful platforms that the President of Russia could count on, this is the state register and the public Cossack formations of Russia. I think we will come to this.
The best option is that on the territory of any municipality there should be one structure, one Cossack community. There is a civil service - we are sending there, to the army, to the forces of public order, there is no civil service - the Cossacks are returning to their community.
Kosachev: Are there any exemptions or special privileges for the Cossacks compared to other citizens of the Russian Federation? The right to special forms of self-organization, the right to wear uniforms and weapons? Are there any points that distinguish the Cossacks in terms of the norms of the current legislation?
Vodolatsky: They exist, but not economically, but socially. If we talk about economic development, all citizens of Russia are united. If, for example, we are talking about the protection of natural resources, some kind of tender is being played out, then the Cossacks participate in it on the same basis as any organization.
As for the social rehabilitation of the Cossacks, the President of Russia handed a banner to each army in the St. George Hall of the Kremlin (no structure, except the Ministry of Defense, ever received banners). Cossacks have received such honor. The most symbolic was the fact that in the St. George Hall the names of Cossack formations that received St. George’s banners are stamped on the plates, and it was in this Hall that the descendants of these Cossacks received banners from the President. I was a participant in this event, and it will remain in my memory for a lifetime.
There is a presidential decree, a government decree on the resolution of carrying cold weapons, along with the form, the creation of security companies by Cossack troops. This is a certain “privilege”, but we ourselves undertake these obligations, we ourselves want to help the state in restoring order, in educating young people, in the fight against drug addiction and crime.
When they say, they say, why it is given to you, we say: please go out to the streets, guard public order, nobody forbids you. We live on our land and want to see peace and order where our wives, children, grandchildren live.
Kosachev: Another very difficult question. It is associated with the situation in the south of Russia. It is known that issues of inter-ethnic, inter-cultural, inter-religious tension look different in a different way than in many other parts of the Russian Federation.
To what extent are the Cossacks - organized, unorganized - hampered by these contradictions? As far as they are at the epicenter of events, are they forced to take upon themselves the first blow of those contradictions that could potentially break Russian society?
Vodolatsky: Yes, this is a very difficult question. For more than 10 years I was the deputy governor of the Rostov region and the ataman of the Don Cossacks, I was always at the epicenter of the events that were in the east of our region, those clashes that qualified as domestic, but I know that they were not domestic.
Those nationalities who lived and live on the territory of the Stavropol, Krasnodar Territories - their youth were not brought up in the traditions, ideology, customs of the Chechen, Dagestan, and Ingush peoples. When there is no single ideology of upbringing, when we have not raised a single political nation of Russian citizens, and such clashes occur.
Kosachev: Is it rather a conflict not between nations, but between generations who do not know their fathers' own traditions and customs?
Vodolatsky: Of course. The Cossacks always rise, go to the place to restore the status quo, restore order, prevent clashes between the local, indigenous people and those who came there. Communicating with young people, I always say that when they come to the territory of the Don, Kuban, Terek, they come to the good-neighborly territory. We are always open to all - peace, good, well-being. But you need to know our traditions, culture, customs, not to violate them. Only then will we understand each other.
The Presidential Council on Interethnic Relations began this work. But the most important thing, I think, one of the main tasks of my commission is to educate the younger generation. There are good professionals among us.
It turned out that during the year 23 in the Russian Federation there was no national idea. In the Russian Empire, she was - for the faith, the king and fatherland. In the Soviet Union was the construction of a bright future - communism. And most countries now have a national idea.
For the education of the future nation, the political nation of Russia, we have developed one of the variants of the national idea - to live according to conscience for the good of the Fatherland. If people in the south of Russia, in the North Caucasus, will behave like this, then there will be no inter-ethnic or interfaith conflicts.
When we hold world Cossack congresses, when Cossacks come from 38 countries of the world, they tell about their ancestors. As you know, in the 1920-ies was the outcome of the Cossacks. They say that before the revolution, for example, in the Caucasus, the treasury was developed, when the elders of the highlanders and the cossacks sat at one table and determined the order of living on their land. I think we should return to this form of work, and everything will be fine.
Kosachev: At one time, the idea of patrolling the streets of large Russian cities by Cossacks caused a public outcry and discussion. How do you feel about such an initiative?
Vodolatsky: The idea is not new. On the territory of the Great Don Cossacks, starting from 1999, the regional law on the Cossack militia operates. 1300 Cossacks on the territory of the Rostov region, 800 Cossacks on the territory of the Volgograd region go every day to patrol their farms, villages, cities. There are 10 equestrian units.
Three years ago, the Kuban, thanks to the governor Tkachev, followed this example: a thousand Cossacks of the Kuban today go to the protection of public order. They went further than on the Don: the retainers increased their salaries, provided them with uniform, supplied them with special means.
Kosachev: Is the patch coming from the state?
Vodolatsky: From the budget of the region, region, region. This is a Cossack territory, and the population that lives there, regardless of nationality, understands that this is natural when Cossacks in uniform, together with the police, go to the protection of public order. One precinct on 10 farms, arrives once a week. And people come to the local chieftain, the squad leader with their troubles and problems.
But when patrols are introduced in territories that are not originally Cossacks, when in Moscow, yes, there are Cossacks, retired officers, municipal, regional, federal figures who came from the Don, Terek, Kuban, Ural, Siberia, they live here, work - but for a megacity Cossack patrols are unnatural. Public - yes, please, civil - yes. But the Cossack - they are unnatural in Moscow, Petrozavodsk, in the Ivanovo, Tambov, Kostroma regions.
The Voronezh Region is a part of the territory of the Don Cossack Army, the Stavropol Territory, the Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, and Orenburg Regions — well, unconditionally. When in the territory of the Federation, where historically Cossack troops were, municipal Cossack guards work with the police, this is great, it reduces crime, especially street crime, reduces the number of crimes against the person, juvenile crime. In Moscow, this practice, unfortunately, does not take root.
Kosachev: I agree. Now the question which, I think, will be of particular interest to our foreign listeners. You are the chieftain, the leader of the Union of Cossack troops in Russia and abroad, so the question is about the foreign Cossacks. From what roots does it come, from what sources? How does it feel now, in the 21st century?
Vodolatsky: The historical beginning of the Cossack abroad is tragic. In the 1920-e years there was a civil war, there was a resolution of Trotsky-Sverdlov to completely destroy the Cossacks. Then Don, Kuban and Terek were drenched in blood, hundreds of thousands of Cossacks died, from small to large, not only adult men, but also children, old people. When you read archival information - my heart bleeds from the way they destroyed our ancestors, my ancestors.
After the victory in the Civil War of the Red Army, most of the Cossack formations, they are whole corps, regiments left the Crimea. We remember the famous poems of the Don poet Turoverov “We left Crimea”. Cossacks scattered around the world. At first they stopped on the island of Lemnos and, thanks to Leonid Petrovich Reshetnikov, we are very grateful to him for restoring all the archival documents, the graves of the Cossacks of the Kuban and Terek.
Imagine: 18 thousands of Don Cossacks and 26 thousands of Kuban landed on the bare, windswept island of Lemnos, many there and found their graves. Naturally, many were with their children, wives. When you read tombstones - the daughter of the есsaula such-and-such, four years old, there she found her last refuge. Cossacks stood on the shore of this island and did not know where to go. Novocherkassk remained behind, Don, the graves of their ancestors, they were left alone.
Gallipoli - a considerable Cossack corps landed there, several tens of thousands, they survived and went around the world. In the 38 countries of the world, the Cossacks found their home, work. These are Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, USA, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina.
We, in honor of the memory of Ataman Platov, the hero of all the Cossacks, the hero of World War 1812, decided to hold the first world convention of the Cossacks. Everything was impromptu, they decided to gather, and many came to worship their land.
Many were in Russia for the first time, the Cossacks came from Australia. We learned from them that a lot of cultural heritage, Cossack heritage today are scattered in museums, private collections around the world. When I became an ataman of the Union of Cossack troops in Russia and abroad, I determined one of the tasks for myself: it was the consolidation of Cossack forces outside Russia, so that they never break off contact with their homeland. Although they were born abroad, this is already the third generation, but they should know and feel where their homeland is, that Cossack roots are here, in Russia, in the south of Russia, in Siberia, in the Far East.
I think the descendants are very grateful to us today, because we restored, found the graves of our ancestors. They knew that, for example, there is the stanitsa Elizavetinskaya. The daughter-in-law of the ataman of the Kuban army, Pivnev, arrived, found the graves of her relatives — her uncle, aunts, who were buried there.
It was amazing to be around: you are standing and looking at the sobbing woman. She says: Mom told me that it was from this place, from the Church of the Transfiguration, that they left in carts with all the belongings, left Don. They took away icons, literature, banners, banners, archives - everything was taken away.
Kosachev: Somewhere it is now collected?
Vodolatsky: Yes. There is, for example, how we call it House Ermakova - this is our compatriot, who comes to congresses, to congresses of compatriots. He lives in New Jersey, USA, he has a four-story mansion, in which not only the Cossack archives, but also the archives of the First World War are concentrated.
A few years ago, compatriots appealed to the President of the Russian Federation, then they were Dmitry Medvedev, to present these archives as a gift to the Russian state, so that this building would become the center where people could come to feel the connection with their homeland. Unfortunately, this question still remains open, and I hope, Konstantin Iosifovich, that with your help we will still bring it to its logical conclusion.
Kosachev: I will be happy to do it.
Vodolatsky: There are archives, the legacy of the Don army in Belgium, in the museum of the armed forces of Belgium there is a separate hall of the Don army. We, thanks to Konstantin Nikolaevich Khokhulnikov, republish Cossack Abroad - the works of our poets and writers. When you read poems, poems, stories of Cossack writers, you understand that they are relevant today, for modern Russia.
There is pain for Russia, compassion, feelings about what is happening in Russia, there is deep patriotism, spirituality, love for one’s fatherland. They left when they were 20 years old, but they carried love for Russia throughout their lives. These works need to educate young people, and we will do it.
If there is also state assistance - it was this time, the IV World Congress was held with the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of the Council under the President of the Russian Federation. I think that Dmitry Nikolayevich Kozak, who is the representative of the presidium of the World Cossack Congress, was convinced that this is an important work. This is people's diplomacy.
What happened, for example, in South Ossetia? Oblig everything that happened there. The Cossacks in Brussels came out with posters, we sent them all the materials. They showed who started the war. These people are not associated with Russia. They were born in Europe, they study there, live, occupy excellent positions - from the Deputy Minister of Culture of Bulgaria to the heads of law enforcement agencies of their countries. But they all came out with posters, with photos, because they are Cossacks. They showed who started the war against the South Ossetian people.
This popular diplomacy must be developed and strengthened. And the state represented by structures that are engaged in international and cultural cooperation should work more actively in this direction.
Kosachev: My guest in the studio was Viktor Petrovich Vodolatsky - the supreme ataman of the Union of Cossack troops in Russia and abroad, actively and professionally representing the interests of Russian and foreign Cossacks in the State Duma of the Russian Federation.
As always, I was with you, Konstantin Kosachev, the head of Rossotrudnichestvo, the special representative of the President of Russia. Watch us, listen to us, argue with us, but most importantly - be with us. See you again on the air!