Staunton, June 12 – Few ideas are so often belittled and dismissed by Moscow and Western Russian specialists as that the Cossacks are a nation and that they can reasonably aspire to an independent state as the 1959 US Captive Nations Resolution suggests. But the Cossacks are not only increasingly active but certain they are a nation and will be free.
A new article by Vyacheslav Dyomin, a Cossack who now lives in the United States, on the Tallinn-based regionalist portal Region.Expert provides perhaps the most comprehensive statement of where the Cossacks are today and what they expect “after the demise of the evil empire” (region.expert/new_cossackia/).
Everyone, Dyomin begins, is interested in what will happen after the empire, “which some call Russia, others the post-Soviet space, and still others the Muscovite Horde, Bolshevizia or Chekiststan falls apart.” He says he cannot predict what will happen to all its various parts but is certain that our Cossack lands sooner or later will be freed from the Kremlin yoke.”
“For many years,” Dyomin acknowledges, he was himself “a prisoner of imperial illusions and loyal to messianic ideas, Rusism, the notion of a god-bearing people and the Third Rome, sincerely supposing that any division of ‘Rus’ would be death to a millennium old holy Russian ideal.”
He continues: “Before the annexation of Crimea and the beginning of the Russian-Crimean war, it was still possible to believe in this chimera as an ideal model of the past; but after March 2014 only degenerates or in the best case very naïve national idealists have remained supporters of ‘the Russian world,’ ‘the Russian spring,’ and ‘the ingathering of Russian lands.’”
“Now, before our eyes is occurring a slow but clear process of the degradation and disintegration of the Soviet-Bolshevik power which is the last empire on the Eurasian space and the last stronghold of world imperialism and colonialism” at a time when other empires have fallen apart and many new countries have emerged or re-emerged.
According to Dyomin, “the present-day RF state is not Russian, not a federative state, not a constitutional one and in general not a republic either. It isn’t even an empire in the classic European sense of the term but rather a certain great-power Asiatic hybrid” that has arisen out of a mixture of the Golden Horde, the Muscovite principality, the Russian Empire and the USSR.
It is “an eclectically false ‘Russia,’ dressed in bast shoes, an embroidered shift, a Soviet hat from civil war times, and a fashionable tie from Versace which for simplicity and with accuracy we will call the Muscovite empire or Mosovia,” Dyomin continues. Moscow has become a gigantic metropolis separate from “the colony regions” it exploits.
But even its oil and gas reserves will not save it, the Cossack writer says. And “the de-imperialization begun in the early 1990s by a revolution from above to all appearances will be completed in the coming years by a revolution from below,” one that will not begin in well-fed Moscow but in the regions the capital exploits.
The Cossacks are very much part of this, Dyomin says. Their experience of “unsuccessful attempts to free themselves from colonial dependence has shown them that while the Muscovite empire is alive … separating from it is practically impossible” but that when it weakens and begins to fall apart, the Cossacks like other nations have a chance.
First of all, the old imperial edifice needs to be dismantled and the territory “cleansed from centuries of slavery.” Only then, he continues, will it be possible to “build in its place bright new republic houses.” The Americans are among the leaders in understanding this, and the still enslaved peoples of Muscovia are inspired by the Captive Nations Week ideals.
Those ideals include the recognition of Cossackia. That term, Dyomin says, includes all the territories of the former Russian Empire “from Ukraine to Siberia” and was popularized by Cossack emigres in Prague and elsewhere in the 1920s and 1930s in journals like Volnoye Kazachestvo, Kazakiya, and Kazak.
Indeed, Dyomin says, “free Cossacks” became “the common name of a number of Ukrainian-Cossack groups which arose in emigration and whose members called themselves that and their effoorts the Free Cossack movement.” They opposed and were opposed by Cossack imperialists who continued to view themselves as a social stratum serving the empire.
The Free Cossacks then and now seek recognition of the Cossacks “as a people who have suffered genocide.” Their numbers are growing, and they have formed various organizations and groups not only in the emigration but as possible within the current borders of the Russian Federation.
What kind of a state will the Cossacks form? “A federation like the United States or a confederation like the European Union?” Dyomin says that the latter is more likely at least in the first stages of the collapse of the Muscovite empire given the diversity and dispersal of the Cossack nation.
Window on Eurasia — New Series