Scientific journal
European Journal of Natural History
ISSN 2073-4972


Vizer V.G., Shabalina E.P.
The article considers the humanistic values of the traditions of the Siberian Cossacks. The main purpose of the publication is to describe the traditions of the Cossacks on the basis of the examined documents and the data of the empirical studies. The work covers the following issues: the main socially significant signs of the Cossacks: the peculiarities of traditions, self-consciousness, means and ways of life activities, social status and social role, social organization, social culture; social functions. The article is relevantl, has a scientific and practical novelty.

Cossacks are a military estate in the pre-revolutionary Russia of the XVIII early XX centuries. In the XIV-XVII centuries they were independent people, free of taxes, who worked for hire, mostly in various fisheries, as well as persons who bore a military service on the outskirts of the country, and the so-called free Cossacks. The service Cossacks were divided into police (regimental) Cossacks and stanitsa (sentry) Cossacks and were used to protect towns and sentry posts respectively, for what they received the land on terms of local ownership and salaries from the government. As a social group the Cossacks were close to the Streltsy, gunners, etc. In the XVIII-XIX centuries, the most part of them was transferred in the poll-tax paying estate and entered the smallholders´ group. The other part joined the composition of the Cossack armies (Siberia, Orenburg, etc.).

In the time of the Altai province´s formation on June 17, 1917, it consisted of Barnaul, Biysk, Zmeiinogorsk, Kamensk and Slavgorod districts (uyezdy). Biysk line was within the Biysk and Zmeiinogorsky districts.

In the composition of the Biysk district (uyezd) the following stanitsas (villages): Tcharyshskaya, Antonievskaya, Moralievskaya, Nickolayevskaya, Sliudenskaya, Terskaya; the settlements-Smolensky, Sosnovsky, Tigiretsky, Tulatinsky, Yarovskoy were included. The Zmeiinogorsky district (uyezd) included the following stanitsa (village): Verkh-Aleiskaya; the settlements-Andreievsky, Beloretsky, Bobrovsky, Verkh-Ubinsky, Kliuchevsky, Platovsky, Sekisovsky.

On August 4, 1920 the Siberian revolutionary committee issued the decree of adding a number of volosts of the Zmeinogorsky district of the Altai province to the Semipalatinsk province, with the result that the stanitsas Platovskaya, Verkh-Ubinskaya, Sekisovskaya and Bobrovskaya turned out to be outside the limits of the Altai province.

Chronological frameworks of the research paper cover the period of 1917-1920. That was the time during which there was a process of liquidation of the Cossacks as a privileged military estate and a special group of the Russian population. This process was initiated with the October revolution and the decree from November, 10th, 1917 «About the abolition of estates and civil ranks». The Cossack estate had been finally eliminated after termination of the Civil war with the decree from March, 25th, 1920 «About the construction of the Soviet power in the Cossack areas». Without denying the statements of some modern historians that the Civil war proceeded up to 1921-1922, we consider that, in fact, the Civil war for the Cossacks of the Biysk line came to an end late 1919 early 1920. By that time the Cossack villages had been occupied by the partisans all over, they had been also deprived of territorial and administrative independence and had been included in the composition of country volosts.

In the opinion of V.V. Isaiev, the revolution and the Civil war´s events had a devastating effect on the Cossacks of the Biysk line [1, p. 179]. Under the influence of internal and external circumstances the Cossacks were facing a difficult political choice. On the one hand, they could not support the Soviet power, which was affecting their class and property interests unequivocally. On the other hand, they were unable to act against the people, and engage in a civil war.

The first decrees of the Soviet government were aimed at splitting the Cossacks. The Bolsheviks who came to power, were doing their main stake on the so-called labour Cossacks - mostly on the poor Cossacks and the front-line soldiers.

On the Biysk line these social groups could not become a strong pillar for the new government. The poor Cossacks were not numerous here but the front-line soldiers, representing the average and well-to-do layers of the Cossacks, when returned home, distanced themselves from politics, plunging in the family and domestic life.

The active influence on the Biysk line started only in April-May 1918. The Soviet power became firmly and completely strengthened in Biysk by that time. And in Omsk the Soviet Military Cossack Department developed violent activities on advancing the Soviet ideas into the Cossack stanitsas of the Siberian army. The changes occurred made the movement of the labour Cossacks more active.

On the line of Biysk it (movement) was represented by the front-line soldiers, the Cossack youth, the poor and what was mostly interesting some of the «old men», who were traditionally considered to be the most conservative part of the Cossacks. The labour Cossacks were pursuing a policy of Cossacks´ oppression, trying to deprive the Cossack estate of the privileges which it enjoyed in comparison with the peasant population. The labour Cossacks couldn´t manage to achieve serious successes and to get a numerous army of their supporters. Many Cossacks were frightened by the prospect of egalitarian redistribution of land with the peasants. Cossacks, connected by a military organization, discipline, and many other attributes of the Cossack life, didn´t yield to campaigning. The Civil war became a serious trial for the Cossacks. The political choice was to be done, which was not easy for the main part of the Cossacks. With the termination of the Civil war the Cossacks had the opportunity to return to peaceful life. The settlements and villages (stanitsas) of the Biysk line, divided between districts (uyezdy) and volosts, deprived of their former independence, began to lose gradually its character [2, p. 75].

At the present time the fate of the Cossacks both in Altai and in the whole Russia to a large extent is not determined. In the places of the historical settlement of the Cossacks the various organizations, putting before themselves the purpose - to revive the Cossacks in Russia began to arise. Out of the numerous Cossack communities, including Altai, the Union of Siberian Cossacks under the leadership of ataman S.N. Smoliakov was established in Siberia by 1990. The representative of Altai colonel Belozertsev Y.A. has become ataman of the Siberian Cossack Troops since 1993. Ostanin A.V. was ataman of the third Military (Altai) Department of the Siberian Cossack Army. In 1993 the Structure of the Altai department was as follows. The management Board of the Altai division - the town of Barnaul; the village (stanitsa) of Novoaltaiskaya; the village (stanitsa) of Tcharyshskaya; the village of Ust´-Kalmanka, Bikatunskaya Cossack line, stanitsa Antonievka, stanitsa Altaiskaya, stanitsa Barnaulskaya, stanitsa Vernaya, the Bolshaya Alma-Ata village (stanitsa) of a separate Siberian sotnia (Cossack squadron). The list of settlements in its overwhelming majority is conditional, since it is predetermined to a large extent by the historical tradition. The role of the Cossacks in a modern life has become to be conceived as a combination of the old traditions, the way of life - including the economic one - with regard to life realities. The Altai Cossacks are seeking to recreate their economic lifestyle on the basis of the traditional community Cossack land use, and they borrow the farming methods of economic management.

The information containing in the examined documents and the data of the empirical studies indicate that the main socially significant signs of the modern Cossacks, should include: the specific character of traditions, self-consciousness, means and ways of life activities, social status and social role, social organization, social culture; social functions. A fundamentally important feature is the degree of preservation of the Cossack traditions.

When a little Cossack reached one year old, he was led to the first communion. The whole process of development of the Cossack was built in a spiral. Each coil in it is a closed cycle, and it took a certain age period. The next round began with the same, but at a new qualitative level. Each level included physical, intellectual and moral (spiritual) development. A little Cossack under 7-8 lived in the woman´s half of the kuren (garrison). At this moment the upbringing went out both of the female part of the family and the male´s. Generally it was based on a vizualization. And the main thing here was a personal example of the seniors and the immersion of «the kid» in the appropriate environment. There is father´s or grandfather´s saber on the kuren´s wall. The stripes on the trousers are a symbol of the Cossack, the saber is our Cossack weapons and the symbol of the Cossack´s will, the horse is a friend and comrade of the Cossack, the crosses and medals on his grandfather´s, father´s, uncle´s, chest are the decorations for the part and exploits in the military companies.

For the night the «kids» were told fairy tales how the Cossacks won the witches and utter monsters, and how they came from one or another situation with honor, they were sung songs about the glory of the Cossacks, past campaigns, battles and heroes. The men watched how a little Cossack was being formed. Games had been established for centuries, and they were certainly aimed at the development of little Cossacks. Practically all of them were under the supervision of the stanitsa (farmstead) old men, who were strictly following the behavior of each Cossack. And in that case, if someone behaved unworthily, the old people enthusiastically taught and corrected the negligent. Physical development was mainly at the age of 8 (in some families from 7 years old) and up to 12 years. Since 8 the Cossack was removed into the male half of the kuren. At that time a ceremony in the hole was held again. Since the same time a little Cossack learned to handle with a whip (a subject that is very symbolic for the Cossacks and very ancient). It is connected with the legend about Yegory the Brave and with some more ancient legends about the dragon fighters. Since the same time a little Cossack was started to be invited for a «conversation». The main point in the upbringing of the Cossacks in that period was the following: to teach him how to cope with his own fear in any of its manifestations. And, observing the reaction of the Cossack, the elder people said: «Don´t fear, the Cossack isn´t afraid of anything!», «Be patient, Cossack, you´ll be ataman!» At the age of 12 the process of physical training was mainly completed. A little Cossack was trained to combat weapons - a saber (dagger).

The beginning of the Cossack child´s entering the Spas (the Cossacks´ system of survival) began with his being baptized. The tasks of the Spas (The Savior) became more complicated, but the main direction of the education of a-he or a-she-young Cossack was not physical, but spiritual. The young Cossacks got back to physical development only through the concept of spirituality. There are two basic actions in the Spas, uniting into one thing: a very quick thinking for taking the only right decision; a quick action for making the decision that sometimes is not even noticeable for the enemy. When reaching the second and the third levels of the Savior the young Cossack is being taught to develop intuition. A deferential, respectful attitude to the old age was brought up since childhood. The domestic people watched strictly how the children behaved themselves when meeting the adults. The strict educational requirements in relation to the seniors pursued the purpose: to cultivate respect in the Cossack youth to the elder people: to their father and mother since childhood, to be thankful for their efforts and cares about the education of their rising generation. The status of the elderly was maintained even then, when the old people remained all alone without children for various reasons. In the villages (stanitsas) such elder people were supported with the means from the military funds, and people took it as a rule to bring or treat products to a week lonely old man or woman.

The tradition of partnership was one of the main educational ideas throughout the Cossack history. Its practical value has increased at the beginning of the XX century, when the Cossacks entered a series of wars and emigrations. In many respects thanks to their brotherhood and partnership the Cossacks were able to adapt quickly to the conditions of emigration.

Religion is the Cossacks´ important factor in the formation of a human spirituality. The Cossacks´ world-view was based on the orthodox canons. The first words of the combat motto were «For the faith...». The Cossack gave his whole life to serving the Faith with all his heart and soul. But if in the beginning of his life it was an active energetic form with the weapon in his hands, then later, if he managed to survive to the old age and not to die on the field of battle, he dedicated himself to a truly spiritual service.

We have reflected only a small part of cultural traditions. The Cossack education was carried out on the basis of humanistic principles and methods and was based on the economic structure, household traditions, social norms of life, allowing them to support and safeguard the firmness and vitality of the Cossacks. The Cossacks are the custodian of the highest values both spiritual and moral.

In the process of studying the origins of the Siberian Cossacks´ culture, the Military-Patriotic Centre of the Cossack Cadets for Revival, Preservation and Augmentation of the Cossacks´ traditions of the town of Biysk (historical past of the town is connected with the Cossacks) was created on the basis of Regional Budgetary State Educational Institution of Primary Professional Education «Vocational School № 4» in 2002. The further aims of the Center are the military-patriotic education of youth, increasing the prestige of military service, forming motivation to serving in law enforcement bodies. The activities of the centre of the Cossacks are organized in the form of a traditional Cossack stanitsa management board, a democratic interaction. That is the novelty of the pedagogical approach.

The Center of the Cossack cadets sees its prospects in expanding the boundaries of the project, in the establishment of branches; the recruitment of the town Cossack community by the Cossacks cadets; the establishment of a resource centre on the basis of an experimental platform in a military-patriotic education; the establishment of a town coordinating center (the organization of a military-field training with the participation of the town military units; preparation and participation in all-Russian, regional fairs, festivals; monitoring, generalization and promulgation of the experience; the establishment of relations with the Cossacks and the cadets´ organizations of the Russsian Federation.

The Military-Patriotic Center of the Cossack cadets has established extensive social communications for ten years that is the striking evidence of its openness and dynamic

During this period of time the pupils and teachers of the Center of the Cossack cadets have become the organizers and participants of various activities: town, regional, inter-regional festivals, exhibitions, fairs, round tables, conferences.


  1. Isaiev V. The Cossacks of the Biisk line in the revolution and the Civil war: monograph / scientific editor. V.N. Razgon. - Barnaul: Publishing House: The Altai. University, 2004. - P. 179.
  2. Vizer V.G. Military-patriotic education of pupils on the basis of ethno-cultural traditions of the Russian Cossacks in Russia: monograph / Under the scientific edition of Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences A.D. Lopukh. - M.: Integration, 2005. - 220 p.