Staunton, August 18 – There are few subjects that generate more dismissive laughter than the idea that the Cossacks could ever form the basis for an independent state. Moscow has attacked the idea especially in connection with the listing of Cossackia in the 1959 Congressional Resolution establishing Captive Nations Week.
But ever more Cossacks are taking this idea more seriously. (For a discussion of that, see this author’s “Cossackia: No Longer an Impossible Dream?” Jamestown Eurasia Daily Monitor, February 21, 2019 at jamestown.org/program/cossackia-no-longer-an-impossible-dream/windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/06/cossackia-lives-and-will-be-free-dyomin.html.)
Now, in what may spark even more interest, the Podolsk Memorial Museum on the Don Cossacks in the Struggle with Bolshevism has published a 522-page book entitled Against the Red Band … featuring the writings of three major émigré advocates of an independent Cossackia, Yemelyan Kochetov, Yefim Getmanov and Petr Dzhevzinov.
Most of the materials in the book come from sources that are bibliographic rarities, including mimeographed publications long out of print or printed materials issued in such small print runs that they are to be found in only a handful of libraries. Now they can be read in full, and the advocates of an independent Cossackia can gain a hearing.
Kochetov is the least known, having written and published little about his experiences and views until he compiled his memoirs in 1949 while a DP in a camp near Oldenburg. They are now available online at old.elan-kazak.org/almanakh-3-2010-fail-pdf-tekstovaya-versiya/kochet.
Getmanov is better known because he served as the Paris representative of the newspaper Kazachiy Vestnik from 1940 to 1945 and then served as editor and publisher of Kazachye Yedinstvo, which was produced on mimeograph in the 1950s and early 1960s (istorypedia.com/17/195/1614959.html
The new book collecting their writings during emigration about aspirations for an independent Cossackia has been welcomed by a remarkably sympathetic review prepared by Regnum’s Andrey Martynov (regnum.ru/news/polit/2692369.html).
Among Cossack emigres, he says, “the movement of independence-minded Cossacks enjoyed popularity.” It was connected with people like Maj.Gen. Isaak Bykadorov (author of History of the Cossacks (in Russian, Paris, 1930) and The Don Cossacks in the Struggle for a Way to the Sea (in Russian, Paris, 1937), engineer Vasily Glazkov (the author of the English-language History of the Cossacks (New York, 1968), “and other no less bright figures.”
Moderates among the independence-minded Cossacks, Martynov says, favored having Russia become a federation with the Cossacks having broad autonomy. “The more radical called for the independence of ‘Greater Cossackia,’” were against the restoration of the monarchy and followed the socialist revolutionaries in their economic programs.