Tuesday, June 30, 2020

‘Cossacks Need Diaspora to Achieve Their Goals,’ Activist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 28 – Diasporas played a key role in developments at the end of Soviet times. The recovery of Baltic independence would not have happened in the way that it did had it not been for Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian activists abroad. And the Circassian national movement is at least as dependent on its far larger disaporas than on its residents within Russia.

            Now, Cossack activist Konstantin Dyakonov says, Cossacks must follow the lead of these and other groups and develop far stronger ties with diaspora communities who can help them achieve their goals by sharing ideas and lobbying for the Cossack cause (facebook.com/groups/471477107025889/permalink/698971354276462/).

            Cossack diasporas have played such a role in the past: they were responsible for the inclusion of a reference to Cossackia in the 1959 US Congressional Captive Nations Week resolution. But this new effort is important both a sign of the maturation of the Cossack movement and as a challenge to the Kremlin’s efforts to replace real Cossacks with fake ones.

            Reaching out to the diaspora is yet another means genuine Cossacks, those who descend from and share traditional Cossack values, have to distinguish themselves from and prevent their absorption by Putin’s pseudo-Cossacks who dress up as Cossacks but have little connection to the real thing. (On that, see jamestown.org/program/putins-pseudo-cossacks-assume-larger-role-but-real-cossacks-refuse-to-go-along/).

            And any increase in contacts between the Cossack diaspora, which is large and dispersed, and the real Cossacks inside the current Russian borders will no doubt serve to reinforce the views of both that Cossacks are a nation not a stratum and thus deserve the right to self-determination. (See jamestown.org/program/cossackia-no-longer-an-impossible-dream/).

            There is as yet no comprehensive study of the Cossack diaspora communities around the world, but for introduction to their sources and a survey of where they find themselves today, see Andreas Kappeler’s The Cossacks (in German, Munich, 2013) and Philip Longworth’s The Cossacks (London, 1969).

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