Cossacks – Pass notes No 3,282

Age: Between 600 and 700 years old. As a group. Not individually. That would be crazy. They’re not giant redwoods.

Appearance: Ukrainian and Russian.

Cossacks! How dare you!

Cossacks! You’re going to tell me about Cossacks. Oh, yes, I see. Sorry, my hearing’s a bit … Anyway, yes, the fiercest fighting force Russia has ever known, the maverick cavalry who helped to thwart Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, the mysterious loners who carve lives for themselves in the bleak and unforgiving steppes – and tell the Russian winter to come and have a go, if it thinks it’s hard enough – are in the news.

Cor! Why? Is Putin planning to invade Poland? Or are they just going to have some kind of bare-knuckle fight to entertain the peasants? Or a wolf-killing contest – a lupus-off? None of the above.

Boo! 600 Cossacks are going to start patrolling the streets of Moscow …

On horseback, filling the air with the crack of their rawhide whips, slashing with their sabres, thrusting with their lances at any members of the populace with rebellion in their hearts. How gloriously retro. Actually, they will be helping the police deal with the gobby teenagers, instances of bad parking and the illegal street vendors of mobiles, crayfish and sunglasses that are cluttering the capital’s thoroughfares.

NFW, dude! And they will be doing it on foot or travelling by bus with free passes.

It’s a bit of a comedown from advancing Mother Russia from the steppes of central Asia to the highest peaks of the Caucuses and harrying the Grande Armée to kicking unsightly seafood carts off the streets, isn’t it? I wonder they stand for it. Well, they will also get the chance to do a bit of harrying. Mostly, many fear, of the various ethnic groups – especially Muslims – who live in Russia and whose presence is an affront to the nationalistic beliefs of the Cossacks.

Watch this leather-booted, fur-hatted, scarlet-blazoned-trousered space then. Do.

Do say: (Like Napoleon) “Cossacks are the best light troops among all that exist. If I had them in my army, I would go through all the world with them.”

Don’t say: “But for now, could you just ticket that Skoda? It’s double-parked.”

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