Russia’s Cossacks Battle Coronavirus and Promote Kremlin’s Foreign Policy

19 Mar 2020

(EDM) As fears of the COVID-19 pandemic grip much of Russia, the country’s Cossacks have been enlisted to help contain the deadly virus. In the city of Ekaterinburg, Ataman Gennady Kovalev of the Ural Cossacks announced biweekly patrols in the Seven Keys region of the city, which began on February 2. Seven Keys is an area where Chinese immigrants traditionally live. According to reports, the patrols identify those who have symptoms similar to those for COVID-19 and strongly advise them to go to hospital, as well as distribute protective masks. Russia has also closed its borders to Chinese citizens in an effort to contain the virus (Novye Izvestiia, February 19). More mundanely, the council of Cossack Atamans under the Russian president issued an edict not to kiss the icon or touch the hands of priests due to the threat of coronavirus. Ataman Gennady Kovalev said, “It is an official order from our organization [the council of Atamans of regional Cossack organizations]. It is forbidden to kiss icons or touch anything relating to mass worship. Fighting the virus, which spreads through touch and airborne droplets, necessitates this. Our task is to warn that [these practices] are dangerous and contribute to the spread of infection” (, March 2). [...]

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