These days, you can't find the Cossack village of Alexandrovskaya even on the most detailed of maps. Back in the 1960s, it was included as part of Rostov-on-Don (1100 km to the south of Moscow). At that time, the population of Cossacks was 13 thousand. In 1991, the village of Alexandrovskaya returned to its legal status on maps. Today in the village, a real Cossack platoon operates along with a volunteer security watch. The male population, young and old, masterfully handle a sword and whip. Children gain their initiation into Cossack culture in classes at local sports schools. RBTH's correspondent spent some time in one of these schools and found out how 21st-century Cossacks live.
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It's a lot easier to erase a geographic marker from a map than it is to change a mentality. Cossacks have lived on this land for hundreds of years. They are natural-born warriors with a tough character who are used to being free. Even after the village was eliminated from the map, they continued to live according to their traditions, combining their belief in war with Russian Orthodox beliefs and the "Russian idea".