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Home Sweet Cossack Home

165 years earlier

Fort Verny started as fortress on a strategically located site of a nomad camp dating back to the late Middle Ages to protect the land from the invasion of the Kokand Khanate, which had its own claims to the Kazakh land.

Renowned Russian military engineers Arcady Telyakovsky and Eduard Tolteben had built the fortress on the Maly Almaty riverbank with ramparts, powder cellars, barracks, storehouses for weapons, ammunition, and food by autumn 1854. In 1855 a first prayer house was built a few hundred miles up the hill. It was later rebuilt into a Cossack church as a Cossack Headquarters were built there around 1902.

Nowadays

 

The former fortress is one of the historical monuments of Almaty – abandoned, ignored, and as a result decaying fast. Over the years, neither the Soviet nor the post-Soviet local agencies have been able to tackle its issues. At times when some memorial dates were approaching, they were undertaking pains to restore it, to invite the UNESCO representatives to register the complex as a national heritage (the letter was made but, presumably never sent), even succeeded in putting it on the list of complexes under the local government protection. The work has stopped here since 2004, and most of the buildings of the complex have now been lost. The four remaining are in desperate state…

In contrast to the Fortress Vernoe fate, the Cossack HQ managed to survive, housed schools, Soviet era cultural centres and clubs with little to no care from the local authorities. Until by 2000 it was drawn to a pitiful state.

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In 2006, as Yuriy Zakharov was elected Ataman-in-Chief of the Kazakhstani Cossacks the Semireks addressed him with an appeal to help to preserve the historic building in memory of the people who protected the rich Semirechiye land from Kokands and turned it into orchards. The building was in such a poor state that the authorities decided to demolish it and sell the tiny piece of land at auction.

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Owing to a successful work of the new Ataman the building was leased to the Cossacks free for 49 years. Obviously, the Cossacks did not have resources anywhere near the amount required for the full restoration. It was the Ataman who helped in this issue again. In 2012, in the restored historical building of the Cossack Government of Verny, the State Cossack Cultural Center opened its gates and doors to all the members of the NGOs. This was a big event not only for the Cossacks, but also for all Almaty residents and citizens of Kazakhstan, who received another beautiful attraction.

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Even if it has been visited by many well-known guests from near and far during these 7 years, the Cossack Cultural Center is not just a cultural landmark. Its buzzing with people, and activities seven days a week. Much work is being done to revive the Cossack and Russian culture and traditions. The Center is a home for many creative, musical, and sports teams, it has a museum, a library, a computer class and much more. The center hosts events of the Semirek Cossacks and the Almaty branch of the Russian Community of Kazakhstan, forums of the Coordination Council and of the World Union of Cossack Atamans.

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“ATAMAN”

In 2014, Ataman was organized under the auspices of the Cossack Cultural Center by the late Tatyana Petrovna Trubacheva. For a couple of years, she had been scrupulously and tirelessly looking for children aged 8 - 16 who were willing and able to sing and love Russian and Cossack folklore. A real professional she did a great job. Since then, the "Ataman" managed to win the love of the audience. The ensemble performs at all events of the Russian community, krugs and gathering of Semirechie Cossacks, takes part in events organized by the Assembly, performs in the House of Veterans, orphanages, festivals in Almaty and Bishkek.

Ataman

“Semirechie Rainbow"

The school of traditional Cossack physical culture " Semirechye Rainbow" was founded in April 1992 by the Comrade of the Ataman-in-Chief Cossack colonel Sergey Vasilyevich Mashkantsev. Much work has been done to systematize and revive the traditional physical culture of the Cossacks. This knowledge is tested at regular training sessions at the Cossack Cultural Center and in the fields all around vast Kazakhstani steppes. More information about the work of school mentors can be found at www.kazakrs.org.

Cossack Shermitsy

The traditional physical culture of the Cossacks includes both general physical training and special Cossack training, i.e. Shermitsy. This includes martial arts, using shashka (saber), lance, and bow, riding a house. The Cossack train here in the Centre every Sunday – rain or shine!

Slavic craft workshop and folk band “Zhiva”

The workshop was organized by Olga Yurievna Vasilevskaya in the autumn of 2014. The main task of the workshop is to preserve and popularize Slavic crafts, to study, share and popularize the traditions and customs of the Russian people. In our classes, the workshop participants learn to make traditional dolls, sew folk outfit, weave belts, write painting traditional Pysanky Easter eggs, and also study folk dance and singing. The Workshop is currently working on several projects: "Grandma's little box" - a traditional doll.
"Kostolomka" - a traditional dance.
"
Clothing etiquette" - tailoring a traditional costume.
"Slavic style" - tailoring stylized clothing.
“Chatter boxes” is a project created for live communication of participants both on various abstract topics.

“Sudarushky Club”

The history of the creative workshop begins in August 2014, when the ladies of the Almaty branch of the Russian Community of Kazakhstan announced the start of the club. The workshop is open for ladies who love creativity. They engage in knitting, beadwork, embroidery, drawing, modeling and other types of needlework. The friendly team of the Club participates in all the activities of the Russian Community: prepares props, writes posters. Each November they hold “Russian Matryoshka” festival, with lots of handmade Russian costumes and kokoshniks. The creative workshop is open to everyone.

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Library, Computer and Linguistic Class

The Cossack cultural center revives the culture and traditions of Russian and Cossack people, and think about the future. There is a library, a computer and linguistic classroom, where training courses are organized in Kazakh, Russian and English. We offer computer literacy courses, lectures and seminars on various topics. Additionally, Russian universities used to hold preparatory courses and entrance exams in the Centre.

The library of the Center has several thousand books on various topics, including the history of the Cossacks, history of Russia, Kazakhstan, fiction of Russian and foreign authors and classics. All the books were donated by our members and guests. A computer class, albeit small, is equipped with the most modern equipment, i.e. computers, a video projector, an interactive whiteboard, a portable screen, a flipchart.

Museum of Cossack History, Hostel, and Restaurant

The pearl of the Cossack Cultural Center is its Museum of the Cossack History. Since the first day we have been collecting items of antiquity, of Cossack life, old and modern photographs of the Cossacks, Cossack traditional outfit kindly presented to the museums by the Cossacks and their families, musical instruments and much more. There is even a small replica of the Cossack Hata (room) with 100% authentic items.

Cossacks are very hospitable people. We have three small but cosy rooms for our guests arriving from other cities and countries. And yes, sure this accommodation is free.

Well then, after a long walk in the surroundings and in the Centre, after having listened to the Cossack singing, and taken a traditional Cossack Dance anyone might feel like having a bite.

Then you are welcome to the Cossack restaurant "Ataman". Here you can try authentic Cossack dishes prepared according to the old recipes, drink a strong camp tea.

Many Cossacks, and other Almaty residents and guests say they feel safe and relaxed owing to a special aura reigning in the building.

God bless the Cossacks! God bless all good people!