Staunton, July 7 – The Cossacks, traditionally classified as a sub-ethnos within the Russian nation, are rapidly taking on the characteristics of an ethnic group, according to a Moscow specialist (apn.ru/publications/article33741.htm
She points to the recent declaration of Grigory Kuznetsov, a neo-Cossack who is the chief ideologist of the Free Cossack Movement (prisud.com/forum/19/1646----.html). He argues that “Cossacks need a Kazakia because no one besides [them] will be concerned about the high birthrate of the indigenous people of the Cossack land and about its environment.”
Are the Cossacks any less worthy of having a republic than any other people? He asks rhetorically; and he argues that “the highest coal of the Cossack nation must be ‘the establishment of its own civilization.’”
Bolotnikova is skeptical and advances the usual arguments against this idea, but in doing so, she misses three important points: first, in Putin’s Russia as in the Soviet Union, nations aspire to have a territory because that is the best way to secure resources; second, a group that is not ethnically charged at one point can easily become so as conditions change; and third, the current time of troubles in Russia is a forcing ground for such changes.
And for those reasons, the Cossack national aspirations, even if they are not achieved, may truly be the canary in the mine shaft, warning about the increasing fragmentation of a population whose unity is the centerpiece of Vladimir Putin’s ideological world.