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9 Sep, 2007 13:08

Cossacks find their roots in Southern Russia

Celebrations are being held in Russia's southern Krasnodar region, as it's been 215 years since the first Cossacks came to the Taman Peninsula which lies eastward of the Crimea.

It was in 1792, when the Cossacks first came to the Kuban province. It wasn't a military operation, rather an expedition, marking a new beginning for them.

Cossacks were given the permission to settle the newly conquered uninhabited land by Catherine the Great for the role they played in the war against the Ottoman Empire in the mid-18th century.

A total of 25,000 people migrated to the new Black Sea Cossack colony. The city of Ekaterinodar (literally ‘Catherine’s Gift’, the city was renamed Krasnodar in 1920) sprang up as the capital of the region.

Today there are more than 140,000 Kuban Cossacks. They’ve managed to preserve their traditions during the times after World War II, when Cossack units of the Soviet army were disbanded along with all remaining cavalry. The revival for Cossacks came in the early 1990s.

At  the Krasnodar festival, you can learn more about Cossacks – not only their horseback riding and swordplay skills, but also about their peacetime life. You can also taste “Gorilka” – the Cossacks’ famous home-brewed alcohol.