Red Cossacks

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Pavlo Dybenko of enslaved Ukrainian Cossack origin and his wife Oleksandra of registry Cossack origin

Red Cossacks, Soviet Cossacks or Comrade Cossacks were the names given to Cossacks who supported the Russian Revolution, especially those who fought with the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War, and to those who served in the Red Army or the Soviet partisans during World War II.



In the region of Central Eurasia, territories of Great Horde and Russian Empire, people from ancient times used to name themselves "Cossacks" in the meaning of "free people by the will of God", "people of free trade", "free warriors", "people, who can defend their freedoms and rights with weapons in the arms". Such worldview as we can see made great, dramatic impact on the ideas of Russian Revolution and Civil War for Democracy on the territories of former Russian Empire.

So, from historical point of view almost all people of the region can name themselves "Cossacks" and many of them always preserved memory about this. But in time of Russian Empire a lot of people, most part of them enslaved Russian and Ukrainian peasants were prohibited to name themselves Cossacks, only people of "Cossack state" (imperial registry Cossacks) preserved the right to name themselves in such a way. This state of things among other facts of violation of people's rights and freedom formed the basis of permanent social conflict in Russian Empire which resulted in Russian Revolution and cruelties of Civil War for Democracy of 1917–1923 years.

Red colour widely used in Civil War for Democracy in Central Eurasia during 1917–1923 years is simply symbol meaning the struggle in defence of freedoms and rights, well-known to people of region from ancient times, equally used by different people of Great Eurasian Steppe (Scythia, Tartaria), among them: Christians and Muslims, Slavs and Turks, Cossacks and Tartars from ancient times.

20th century[edit]

Photo of Bublyk Kuzma Pavlovych (1901-1925) - Red, Soviet Cossack of UkrainoRussian Orthodox Christian Cossack origin, descendant of enslaved Ukrainian Christian Cossacks of the 18th century
Ukrainian newspaper article of the 1920s describing the circumstances of a fatal accident with Red Cossack, Kuzma Pavlo's son, Bublyk in 1925 in Izyaslav, Ukrainian Republic
Semyon Budyonny of enslaved Ukrainian Cossack origin, one of creators of first Red Cossack insurgent troops, later one of famous atamans (commanders) of Red Army

A lot of people from registry Cossack families also preserved the truth about Cossacks and real history of region and supported people struggle for democracy. Among them we can find Russian Decembrists, organizers of first social-democratic circles in Russian Empire in the 19th century, participants of Russian Revolution of 1905 and so on. But also a lot of Cossacks, which viewed Cossack idea in other way, which took active part in development of Russian Empire as monarchical state don't like such ideas and sought the ways to cut off the "red infection" from society. So for the 1917 year Cossack society of region and especially imperial registry Cossacks which in great numbers lived on the territories of Don, Cuban, Ukraine and Syberia became strictly polarized. As an example we can remember the words of Prokip Semenyuta, anarchocommunist (even not bolshevik!) of Ukrainorussian Cossack origin, who before his death at the end of July 1908 in Gulyaypole said about himself: "struggled against czar and his sycophants, for freedom and communism".[1]

So when the Civil War for Democracy in Russia and Ukraine explosed almost in all major political and military forces there were many people of Cossack and registry Cossack origin, claiming themselves Cossacks. As they often had good education, big experience, good military and management skills and active social position they took active part in formation of almost all military and political structures of that time, among them red insurgent troops of different regions of former Russian empire and Red Army as a whole. This people became widely known as Red Cossacks. Unlike other Cossacks, Red Cossacks revived the ancient meaning of the name, applying it to all "free people defending freedom" despite of their origin - registry Cossack or not. So in Red Cossacks troops of that time among with people of ancient Cossack origin we can see citizens of former Russian empire of Caucasian, Jewish, Polish, Hungarian, Latvian, Chinese and other origin, not only of Russian, Ukrainian, Tatar, Kazakh or Kalmyk.

Notable Red Cossacks[edit]

  • Philipp Mironov -of Don origin, creator and ataman of first Red Cossack troops in this region, one of the famous commanders of Red Army;
  • Sorokin Ivan - of Kuban origin, creator and ataman of first Red Cossack troops in this region, one of the famous commanders of Red Army;
  • Yuriy Kotsiubynsky - one of the creators and first commanders of Red Cossacks Army of Ukrainian Republic, son of famous Ukrainian writer, who wrote on historical and social topics of registry Cossack officers origin;
  • Vitaly Primakov - one of the creators and first commanders of Red Cossacks Army of Ukrainian Republic;
  • Semyon Budyonny - Soviet general of enslaved Ukrainian Cossack origin;
  • Aron Baron - Red Cossack of Ukrainian Jewish origin, one of the founders of Red Cossacks Army of Ukrainian Republic;
  • Alexandra Kollontai (Domontovych) - women, soviet politic of international scale, descendant of prince Rurik and ancient Cossack army officers family, known from the 17th century;
  • Pavel Dybenko - famous commander of Red Army of enslaved Ukrainian Cossack origin;
  • Vladimir Mayakovsky - soviet poet of Ukrianian registry Cossack origin;
  • Demyan Bedny - soviet poet of mixed registry and enslaved, Ukrainian and Russian Cossack origin;
  • Joseph Stalin - arguably the most widely-known leader of the USSR. Despite his taking part in repressions against Cossack regions of the Soviet Union prior to 1934, from 1934 Stalin personally supported the official termination of repressions against former Registry Cossacks of the Russian Empire, who remained in the Soviet Union. Due to this, these Cossacks became Soviet citizens;[2] in 1925.[3]

Also partly as Red Cossack can be classified also Nestor Makhno who some time collaborated with soviet government and Red Cossacks Army of Ukrainian Republic and Red Army of Soviet Republic as a whole, whose tactics made great impact on the development of Red Cossacks Army tactics and whose people after dissolution of Makhno's movement often served in Red Army.

Protocol of "Circle of Salvation of Don" prohibiting to people, who support democracy in the form of soviet government to name themselves "Cossacks"
Protocol of "Circle of Salvation of Don" prohibiting to people, who support democracy in the form of soviet government to name themselves "Cossacks"