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    COSSACKS PLANT CROSSES ON SMALL KURIL ISLANDS

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    YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, May 13 (RIA Novosti's Pyotr Tsyrendorzhiyev) - On the Small Kuril Islands (Far East), the Sakhalin Cossacks placed Orthodox crosses on the locations of their future settlements, Ataman Leonid Saprykin told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

    "The island's Cossack community, which has been entered into a state register, will develop the islands economically and jointly guard the Russian-Japanese border with the frontier guards as non-military men," he said.

    The Cossacks from the South Kuril community and the Igor Farkhutdinov (the governor who died in a helicopter crash in August 2003) Shikotan Cossack village arrived on the Zeleny, Anuchin and Yury islands on the Strelny, a fishing boat. The first cross was planted in 1997 on Tanfilyev, a neighboring island, on the initiative of Governor Farkhutdinov.

    These small islands are situated opposite Hokkaido, the northernmost Japanese island.

    Servicemen from frontier posts and the marine brigade of the Pacific regional frontier department of the Russian Federal Security Service helped the Cossacks to place these crosses. Father Alexy from the South Kuril Orthodox church was part of the Cossack group that landed on the islands. Atamans Igor Semyonov and Valentin Kopylov led the group.

    The Cossacks are a military estate that appeared in Russia in the 14th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 11 Cossack armies and the Cossack population was 4.4 million people. 300,000 Cossacks took part in the First World War. In 1920, Cossacks, as an estate, were abolished. However, in 1936 Cossack units appeared again and later they fought in World War Two. After the break up of the Soviet Union, more attention started to be paid to the revival and development of the Cossacks.

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