Cossacks in Kyrgyzstan

This is new to me: there is an active Cossack host in Kyrgyzstan!


I recently came across a snippet of an article from AKI Press, entitled: Interior Ministry awards cossack-atamans with medals for taking part in ensuring security in Kyrgyzstan. Unfortunately, the bulk of the article is behind a paywall, but the visible portion reads:

Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Kursan Asanov awarded leaders of the Cossacks of Semirechye in Kyrgyzstan with medals on July 31, Interior Ministry said in its statement…

It may be possible to read the rest with a free registration, but I haven’t tried that yet. It’s worth clicking the link to see the photograph; the Cossack’s uniform and insignia are interesting.

It’s news to me not only that there are Cossack communities in Kyrgystan, but also (and more surprising/interesting) that they are actually apparently forming active paramilitary or military units, participating in state activities. I’ve tried Googling for more information, but I haven’t found too much.

These Cossacks, from the article, belong to the Semirechye Host, but Wikipedia only goes as far as saying it was disbanded after the Russian Civil War with members being banished to the Russian Far North. Cossackdom adds that some went to Western China as refugees. The Jamestown Foundation had an article in 2013, about some of these Cossacks trying to resettle in Stavropol, in the Russian northern Caucasus, which is worth a read. According to Vestnik Kavkaza, this involved 2000 families, with the resettlement being part of a (presumably Russian) state program.

However, I haven’t found anything about the role the Semirechye Cossack host plays in the security forces of Kyrgyzstan. If any readers know more, please leave a comment!

I know there are Cossack communities in northern Kazakhstan, and I read somewhere that it was their revanchist tendencies that led President Nazarbayev to locate the new capital city, Astana, in the north. It seems there is still much for me to learn about the Cossacks of Central Asia.

Image credits: Tianshan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan by user Thomas Depenbusch on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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