Cossacks - Culture and Organization - Ranks

Ranks

In the Russian Empire, the Cossacks were organized into several voiskos (hosts), which lived along the Russian border, or internal borders between Russian and non-Russian peoples. Each host had its own leadership and regalia as well as uniforms and ranks. However, by the late 19th century the latter were standardized following the example of the Imperial Russian Army. Following the 1988 law, which allowed the hosts to reform and the 2005 one that legally recognized the hosts as a combat service, the ranks and insignia were kept, but on all military tickets that are standard for the Russian Army they are given below.

Modern Cossack rank Equivalent modern Russian Army Equivalent foreign rank
Kazak Ryadovoy Private
Prikazny Yefreitor Lance Corporal
Mladshy Uryadnik Mladshy Serzhant Corporal
Uryadnik Serzhant Sergeant
Starshy Uryadnik Starshy Serzhant Senior Sergeant
Mladshy Vakhmistr Mladshy Praporshik* Junior Warrant Officer
Vakhmistr Praporshchik Warrant Officer
Starshy Vakhmistr Starshy Praporshchik Senior Warrant Officer
Podkhorunzhy Mladshy Leitenant* Junior Lieutenant
Khorunzhy Leitenant Lieutenant
Sotnik Starshy Leitenant Senior Lieutenant
Podyesaul Kapitan Captain
Yesaul Mayor Major
Voiskovy Starshyna Podpolkovnik Lieutenant-Colonel
Kazachy Polkovnik Polkovnik Colonel
Kazachy General** General General
Ataman Komandir* Commander

The same can be said about the colonel ranks as they are given to atamans of regional and district status. The lowest group, stanitsa, is commanded by Yesaul. If the region or district lacks any other stanitsas, then the rank polkovnik is applied automatically but with no stars on the shoulder. As the hosts continue to grow, starless shoulder batches are becoming increasingly rare.

In addition, the supreme ataman of the largest Don Cossack Host is officially titled as marshal, and so wears insignia that is derived from the Russian/Soviet marshal ranks, including the diamond Marshal Star. This is because the Don Cossack Supreme Ataman is recognized as the official head of all Cossack armies (including those outside the present Russian borders). He also has the authority to recognize and dissolve new hosts.

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