MOSCOW, November 27 (RIA Novosti) – Self-proclaimed Cossacks who began patrolling central Moscow on Tuesday were not authorized to do so, despite claiming otherwise, the district administration said.
A group of people styling themselves Cossacks patrolled a downtown square by the capital’s Belorussky train station on Tuesday, reports said.
Eight men in furry hats and striped trousers, outnumbered five to one by journalists, expelled two beggars, a street merchant and an elderly woman selling mushrooms, who walked away crying, photoblogger Rustem Agadamov reported.
But Tuesday’s street patrol was not authorized by police or city officials, the administration of Moscow’s Central Administrative District said.
An authorized system for Cossack patrols is in the works, but will not begin operating before early 2013, the district administration said. Similar patrols already operate in Moscow’s southeast and the southern Krasnodar region, the traditional Cossack heartland.
The Cossacks have never claimed to be allowed to do actual police work, but said earlier they were endorsed to aid law enforcement over misdemeanors like illegal parking and unlicensed street vendors.
“There are even Cossacks in America, they’re called Texas Rangers,” one patrolman said on Tuesday, Dozhd online television reported. American TV series Walker, Texas Ranger, starring Chuck Norris, aired in Russia to mass audiences in the 1990s.
Cossacks have traditionally been seen as staunch defenders of the state in Russia, as well as the Orthdox religion, though in fact they often rebelled against the government, protecting their freedoms. They are also remembered for their role in fighting against the revolutionary side in the 1917 uprising against the Tsar, and suppressing demonstrations with ruthlessness.
Recent years have seen a revival of the Cossack culture in Russia, though critics have questioned the authenticity of some self-proclaimed Cossacks, many of whom tend toward an aggressively rightwing ideological stance.