Monday, December 27, 2021

Daghestan Resists Moscow’s Push for Expanded Role for Cossacks – and Real Cossacks are Pleased

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 6 – Even though Moscow called for Daghestan to support the formation of Cossack communities and did not specify that Makhachkala must use them for law enforcement, that resistance was welcomed by real as opposed to Kremlin-organized Cossack leaders.

            The reason is simple: what Moscow wanted to impose in Daghestan was a system in which all ethnic organizations would be created by the state according to its standards rather than organized by the people involved in terms of their own identities, Kharun Sidorov says (

            As such, what the deputies in the Daghestani parliament have done in objecting to a draft Russian law about the Cossacks constitutes one of the few bright spots on the increasingly bleak landscape of nationality policy in the Russian Federation today and a signal to other republics of what they could do as well.

            The Daghestanis were not the only ones to recognize what Moscow was about with this measure. Free Cossacks, those who trace their roots to the Cossack hosts of pre-1917 Russian did as well, speaking out in favor of the Daghestani resistance and arguing that it represents a clear defense of ethnic rights ( and  

            According to Sidorov, the deputies had another reason for opposing Moscow’s backing of the official Cossacks. Those Cossacks but not the free Cossacks have opposed the construction of mosques, and the Daghestani deputies saw now reason for a Muslim republic to back the very people who oppose their ethnic and religious interests.

            (For background on the critical differences between Putin’s “registered” Cossacks and the genuine article, see; and for the complex relationship of Cossacks and non-Russians more generally, see

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