PRAGUE, 7 December, Caucasus Times. Few days ago Russian President Vladimir Putin sign a law “On State Service of the Russian Cossacks”, which sets legal and organizational framework for the use of Cossacks in state, civil, military and law enforcement services.
Commenting on the new Russian law Deputy Governor of Rostov Oblast, Chief of Great Don Cossack Army General Viktor Vodolacky said on Wednesday in his interview to Interfax that in his opinion main role of Cossacks in the North Caucasus Republics is “preventing interethnic conflicts, easing social tension and maintaining good relations with all peoples in the North Caucasus”.
In his opinion, new federal law regulates “the activities of Cossacks in a number of the Russian subjects of federation. In Rostov Oblast this work is going on quite well. In other regions the governors are ready to cooperate but only under the conditions of a functioning federal law”.
Cossack Army Chief Viktor Vodolacky believes that Cossack activities will be in high demand in other Russian regions since Cossacks provide heads of the law enforcement agencies with real help in performing all tasks set by the federal centre.
According to a new Russian federal law “On State Service of the Russian Cossacks” Cossacks have a right to participate in liquidating the consequencies of extraordinary situations as well as in struggle against terrorism. Cossacks can get the right to guard state borders of Russia, fight against terrorism and against violations of public order by concluding necessary agreements with Federal Security Service, heads of subjects of Russian Federation and local authorities.
Before President Putin proposed draft law regulating the use of Cossacks in the state service, this draft law on Cossacks in different versions had been declined eight times.
Presidential initiative then was not greeted by everybody. Thus, Lev Ponomarev, leader of public organization “For Human Rights” is deeply concerned by the possibility for Cossacks to participate in law enforcement activities. In the words of Ponomarev, “experience indicates that the Cossacks have their own understanding of the public order”.
According to “Human Rights Watch”, Cossacks in Rostov Oblast, Krasnodar and Stavropol Krai openly promote ideology directed against national minorities and periodically call for the forced deportation of the representatives of minorities and at times all non-Slavic population from the region.
Cossacks are descendants of border guards who served to Russian Empire during the Russian-Caucasian war and participated in the extermination of the indigenous peoples of the North Caucasus. The fact that President initiated legalization of their activities can be perceived in the Norh Caucasus as a nationalistic position of the head of state towards national minorities living in the region.