Cossacks Back on Moscow Streets

Beggars, drunks, improperly parked cars and other minor public disturbances might now be attracting attention of Cossacks units. Moscow authorities are now considering to re-establish this tsarist Russia cavalry members as an armed and salaried auxiliary police force, with the power of arrest. At the end of November eight Cossacks clad in traditional fur hats and uniforms test-patrolled a Moscow train station.
Cossacks trace their history in Russia back to the 15th century. Renowned for their sword-fighting prowess and notorious for their anti-Semitism, they spearheaded imperial Russia's expansion in exchange for special privileges, including the right to govern their own villages. In the 2010 census, about 650,000 Russians declared themselves Cossacks. Tuesday's patrol was a test run on whether the group can become, patrol leader Igor Gulichev said and compared his forces to the Texas Rangers, the elite law-enforcement body in the U.S. state. "They are just like Cossacks, and they work for the government, but they're welcomed with open arms. How come this should be allowed in America, but not in Russia, with our rich Cossack traditions? We're like Chuck Norris!" Gulichev said, in reference to the cult karate-kicking star of the television series "Walker, Texas Ranger."
Gulichev's group, which he said numbers up to 85, has patrolled southwestern Moscow with police approval for the past year, and has brought about 35 arrests. They are unpaid but receive free public transport passes and uniforms. Unfortunatelly, their modest effort in the city center lasted barely more than an hour and yielded few rewards.


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