Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Moscow’s Nationalities Agency and Cossacks under Its Control Increasingly Active in Russian-Occupied Ukrainian Areas

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 27 – The Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs, headed by former FSB lieutenant colonel Igor Barinov, is assuming an increasingly prominent role in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, not only conducting polls and organizing meetings but promoting the expansion of the activities of Russian Cossacks there.

            The agency, which was set up eight years ago by Vladimir Putin, has thus moved from monitoring and warning about nationality clashes, for which it has attracted some attention, to administrative work in these locations, about which it has not, according to Novaya Gazeta journalist Lyubov Borisenko (

            Barinov’s FSB background and his long involvement with Cossack affairs have given him both the allies and the models of behavior in this sphere; and his work, precisely because it isn’t directly subordinate to the Russian military command, has been able to take place out of the public eye, something that may make it even more important.

            Indeed, the only time Barinov’s activities in this regard come to broader notice is when he personally makes reports to the Kremlin or the Duma or when a particularly large delegation of Agency employees descends on Russian-occupied regions like Crimea and the Donbass, Borisenko points out.

            She suggests that what Barinov has done so far indicates that Moscow plans to use officially registered Cossacks to run things in the occupied territory and to have Barinov and  his agency supervise and direct their work. 

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