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Siberian Cossacks
Historical Milestones of Siberian Cossacks

* The first Russians to appear in Western Siberia were the Cossacks. They came here 425 years ago, led by the legendary ataman Yermak Timofeyevich. As a result of a series of courageous and daring assaults a small detachment of the Cossacks annexed Yugra to Russia, under the authority of the Russian tsar.

Ivan the Terrible issued an order, according to which the Siberian Cossacks were granted a special status of distinction. From then on their detachments bore the name of the Siberian Cossack Army, whose assignment was to faithfully serve their country and their people.

The Siberian climate and nature were very harsh. Furthermore, Siberias geographic position was rather unfavourable, as it was situated very far from the countrys borders. All these facts determined the nature of the Cossacks occupations and service there. They were to accompany the post, convoy prisoners and guard town and villages.

The Cossacks became extremely successful farmers. They knew how to organize their households. Thus the Cossack detachments became the most thriving of the peoples that inhabited the Siberian territory.

In 1913 the Siberian Cossack Army population counted over 130 000 people of both sexes. Out of this number about 3 000 Cossacks were in regular service in times of peace. This number of soldiers made up one guards and three cavalry regiments. There were 53 Cossack villages, 118 villages and 437 hamlets. The army owned 5 mln acres of land. Omsk was their capital.

The highest authority in the Siberian Cossack Army was the Governor-General of Western Siberia (the Steppe Governor-General), who was also the Chief Commander of the Omsk Military District.

When the monarchy was demolished the Cossacks lived in neutral expectancy. At the proclamation of the Soviet authority the Cossacks divided into the Red and the White, and thus were drawn into fratricidal slaughter. During the months of January and February 1919 the Bolsheviks formed a strictly negative policy towards the Cossacks.

In fact, the Cossack Army as an institution was abolished.

However, in 1941 the Cossacks were once again in demand when they began to fight vigorously and effectively against the fascists. In the years of the Great Patriotic War Cossack units were frequently awarded the title of Guards. They also often fought at the front and in individual units. Many of the prominent commanders came from the ranks of the Cossacks. In the post-war period the Cossack troops took active part in the restoration of the national economy.

If you make a trip to the former Gulag camp in Achair, we show you the Cossack settlements, including the famous "Pond of Cossack wives and brides" near Irtyshskoye village.