Cossack military school

Konstantin Salomatin

Published on 19/04/13

© Kon­stantin Salomatin

Cos­sack mil­it­ary school near Vol­go­grad (nearly 1,000km south-east of Moscow) Aged seven to 17, the cadets study­ing in the school.

The school is free. “Apart from the pur­chase of the required daily, fam­il­ies do not have a penny to pay, we provide uni­form parade, edu­ca­tion, moral edu­ca­tion, and shel­ter,” said Alex­an­der Nikolaevich, the head of edu­ca­tion. Almost everything is fun­ded by the Min­istry of Nation­al­it­ies and Cos­sacks of the Vol­go­grad region. “We seek to develop in these young people a sense of broth­er­hood. They leave the school with the love of God and the Rus­sian land pegged to the body, they will respect the law,” the dir­ector insists.

The school, which opened in 2009 has a good repu­ta­tion. The build­ings are mod­ern and the extens­ive grounds are per­fect for exer­cising and of course rid­ing, essen­tial for true Cos­sacks. With their mil­it­ary train­ing, the cadets hope to enter the army, police or intel­li­gence ser­vice. What is more, the school is free. “Apart from buy­ing the basic uni­form, fam­il­ies pay noth­ing. We sup­ply the cere­mo­nial uni­form, teach­ing, moral edu­ca­tion, board and lodging,” says Alex­an­der Nikolaevich, the head of the teach­ing staff. Almost all the fund­ing is provided by the min­istry of nation­al­it­ies and nearby Cos­sack communities.

The Rus­sian army has had a Cos­sack regi­ment since 2005. Some 30 mil­it­ary schools, such as the one in Vol­go­grad, have opened in the coun­try. Strap­ping fel­lows, in papakhi (the tra­di­tional black Astrakhan hats), now patrol the streets of Moscow and Krasnodar to pre­vent trouble and acts of blas­phemy against shrines.

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