Photography by Ernesto Bazan
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Story on the revival of Cossacks' life in Russia
Revival of Cossacks' life in Russia

A Cossack revival has been proceeding in Southern Russia that for centuries was a bastion of Cossack culture. During seven decades of Communist rule, the Cossacks, descendants of Tatars and escaped serfs, were suppressed. Some were jailed or executed. Their lands were confiscated. Their uniforms were banned. The Cossack schools were shut down. But now, Cossacks strut around in full military regalia, complete with sheepskin hats, riding boots and sabers, wearing a characteristic hairstyle.

For the resurgent Cossacks, the future is in essence the rediscovery of the pre-revolutionary past when the Czar was the Czar, Russia was an empire and Communism was just an obscure political movement. The collapse of the Soviet Union has opened the way for a Cossack revival, which Mr. Yeltsin has supported with Presidential decrees, including a recent order establishing a new government on Cossack affairs. Estimates of the number of Cossacks in Russia are difficult to come by.

There were more than four million Cossacks in the Russian empire before the Revolution. Current figures of those taking part in the Cossack movement range from the hundreds of thousands to the millions. These images, besides showing Cossacks' life in general, zero in on two typical three generations Cossack family. The Onuchkos family live in the stanista ( traditional Cossack village) of Brukhovetskaya, in the Kuban step region of Russia. The Vechekkin in the town of Bokovskaya in the famous Don region in Central Russia Through their rituals and traditions in their daily life, the story shows a revealing and intimate portrait of Cossackhood in this new century.

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