From September 2022, Russia is actively trying to form pseudo-Cossack organizations at the TOT of the Zaporizhia region. The project was named “Cossack Khortytsa”. Its main goal is the replacement of Ukrainian identity with Russian and the gradual imposition of the “Russian world” ideology. A mandatory condition for participation in Cossack formations is obtaining a Russian passport and citizenship.
This issue is dealt with by the Autonomous Non-Commercial Organization “Tavrika Center for Socio-Cultural, Scientific-Educational and Management Solutions”. This organization is registered in Crimea and receives funding from the Russian President’s Fund.
This year, more than 11 million rubles were allocated to them. for which they will hold “mass cultural” events and even shoot a pseudo-documentary about “Zaporozhian Cossacks as a component of the All-Russian Cossacks”.
This approach is not new, the Russian Federation actively uses it against Ukraine, especially after the Orange Revolution. For this, various cultural events were held and even films were shot. A vivid example is the film “Taras Bulba”, where every Cossack who fell in battle must say “let the Russian land be blessed”.
Russian special services tried to establish control over the most numerous Cossack organizations on the territory of Ukraine and establish close relations with the same formations on the territory of the Russian Federation. Representatives of these numerous organizations positioned themselves as defenders of Orthodoxy, traditional values, and generally as political conservatives.
Such a set of views allows you to effectively manipulate them. The Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine (its name is the UOC of the Moscow Patriarchate) was actively involved in this process. Often, these pseudo-Cossacks played the role of papal aunts during the capture of churches, in the confrontation with the OCU, or during processions. However, despite all these efforts, as of 2014, only a small fraction of the most marginalized groups in Luhansk region supported the Russian invasion. Therefore, the enemy did “work on mistakes”.
After the occupation of Crimea, the Russians formed the “Black Sea Cossack Army”. Its skeleton was made up of members of the “All-Great Army of Donskoy”, which was already active in the Rostov region and performed police functions during the seizure of power on the peninsula. These formations were often used as adjuncts to control the public, fight against unauthorized subcultures and organizations, functionally very similar to the Soviet practice of “wives”.
In the temporarily occupied territories of Eastern Ukraine, Cossack organizations were most widespread in the Luhansk region. Those of them who associated themselves with the Zaporizhzhya Cossacks were the basis of the resistance in Luhansk region and, in particular, joined the volunteer battalion “Aidar”.
Those who associated themselves as descendants of the Don Cossacks supported the Russian invasion. Later, a separate Cossack regiment was formed from them as part of the 2nd army corps of the occupation troops, which was stationed around Kadiivka for a long time.
For similar purposes of promoting their culture and creating an agent network for further expansion, the Russians formed Cossacks in Belarus (Cossacks of the Republic of Belarus) and in Kazakhstan (United Cossacks of Kazakhstan), where it was not typical before. And all of them are united by the “All-Russian Cossack Society”, the headquarters of which is, of course, in Moscow, a 20-minute drive from the main headquarters of the FSB.
As stated above, the goal of these organizations is the promotion of Moscow’s neo-imperial ambitions and ideas of the Russian world, the basis of which is Moscow Orthodoxy. As an example, the Russian pseudo-Cossacks are currently imitating the popular will and calling for the annexation of the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which ended up on the TOT under the direct subordination of the Russian Orthodox Church. Fake associations thereby fulfill the will of pro-Moscow metropolitans who wish to legitimize themselves as members of the Russian Orthodox Church. And in the future, they form the Cossack Guard and use them as a mobilization reserve in the “volunteer battalions” of the occupation forces.
Therefore, Cossacks in Russian spaces have nothing to do with the original idea of the Cossack movement, the Cossack state and culture, which carried the idea of people’s rule, acted as a counterweight to authoritarian empires, and was a knightly order in its form. These pseudo-Cossack organizations are just a collection of men who cosplay Cossacks in the most bizarre form and are completely controlled by the Russian special services.