CHITA, March 30, /ITAR-TASS/. For the first time since the October Revolution a member of regional government was elected as ataman, a military chief of Cossacks in southern Siberia’s republic of Buryatia and eastern Siberia’s Trans-Baikal territory. Deputy Prime Minister of regional government Gennady Chupin was named as the head of the Trans-Baikal Cossack troops. Most participants in a major assembly of the Trans-Baikal Cossack troops voted for him in the eastern Siberian city of Chita on Sunday.
As many as 136 delegates came for the major Cossack assembly, representing 2.7 thousand members of Cossack settlements in Buryatia and Trans-Baikal territory. A total of 125 Cossacks participated in the voting, 123 of them supported Chupin’s candidacy. After the voting results were announced a new ataman was slashed by a whip according to Cossack tradition. Then he was presented with a sabre and Cossack naseka walking stick with a metallic point that is an attribute of ataman power.
Addressing to Cossacks Chupin said that he mainly sought to put Cossack settlements on the state register of Cossack societies in Russia, attract Cossacks to state and municipal service and develop military and patriotic education. The newly-elected ataman noted that Cossacks should be attracted actively to ensure public order, patrol forests during the fire-prone season and other types of public activity.
Governor of Trans-Baikal Territory Konstantin Ilkovsky nominated Chupin as a candidate for ataman. In his words, the Trans-Baikal Cossack troops always played a key role in Russian Cossack community, but its revival was hampered in the post-Soviet times, particularly due to disagreements inside Cossack troops. “We have studied the work of other regions, for instance, Krasnodar Territory [southern Russia], where the regional deputy prime minister is an ataman and decided to use this experience,” the governor added. He noted that Chupin would combine the work of deputy prime minister and ataman.
“State authorities pay close attention to revival and development of Cossack community. Cossacks begin to protect the state border, special Cossack units are being formed in Russian army,” Ilkovsky said. “In this situation we are seeking for additional instruments to support Cossacks,” he noted.
Gennady Chupin works as the deputy prime minister in Trans-Baikal territorial government and the head of regional authorities since 2008. He also heads the committee for Cossack affairs.
The Trans-Baikal Cossack troops were formed by General-Governor Nikolay Muravyev-Amursky in 1851 to strengthen Russia’s influence on the country’s eastern border. Before the revolutionary events in 1917 local Cossacks protected the Russian border with Mongolia and China and participated in the Chinese military campaign in 1900-1901, in the Russo-Japanese War and the First World War. After Soviet authorities were established finally the Trans-Baikal Cossack troops were eliminated in October 1920.
Revival of Cossack troops started in 1991. A total number of Cossacks in two neighbouring regions is about to reach 8,000 people. Trans-Baikal Cossack community was left without an ataman in November 2013, when the then ataman, Sergey Bobrov, filed his voluntary resignation over transfer to another job in regional authorities. Cossack General Bobrov has headed territorial Cossack forces since January 2010. Several scandals related with fight for power among Cossacks preceded his election as Cossack military chief.