Vladimir Putin is drafting these warriors of Russian lore to provide their brand of law and order at the Sochi Olympics.
Cossacks (Ukrainian: козаки́, koza'ky; Russian: каза́ки, ka'zaki), are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who became known as members of democratic, semi-military communities,[whom?] predominantly located in Ukraine and in Southern Russia. They inhabited sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper, Don, Terek, and Ural river basins and played an important role in the historical and cultural development of both Russia and Ukraine.[need quotation to verify]
The origins of the first Cossacks are disputed, though the Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk claimed Khazar origin. The traditional post-imperial historiography dates the emergence of Cossacks to the 14th or 15th centuries, when two connected groups emerged, the Zaporozhian Sich of the Dnieper and the Don Cossack Host.
Excerpt from Slate article:
The two men are Cossacks, the fierce warriors of Russian lore who were, among other things, noted supporters of Slavic hegemony and czarist rule. Later, in the Soviet era, they suffered mass deportations, deaths, and famine. In President Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Cossacks are being repurposed as enforcers of neighborhood law and order and, more broadly, as embodiments of a xenophobic brand of patriotism. And they are about to get an international audience: During the Sochi Olympics, which begin Feb. 7, more than 800 Cossacks will be patrolling the city, including the Olympic Village, around the clock.
Cossack justice already exists in Moscow: Samokhvalov and his companion, Igor Petrunin, keep a volunteer watch over the neighborhood of Lyublino in southeast Moscow, several days a week as members of the local Southeast District Cossack Organization. Samokhvalov says his secret for withstanding the cold is a high-calorie breakfast of salo—salted pig fat—and potatoes, but his companion, Igor Petrunin, suggests the pair is simply hardened to the deep freeze. For Cossack patrolmen, bitter cold comes with the job.