The Cossacks, Part 2: Protecting Pochaev Monastery from Fascists and Heretics

In 2003, Neo-Nazis thought it would be a great idea to attack Pochaev - they got a lesson in Cossack Glory at sabre point

Editor's Note: This is part 2 of my series about Cossacks defending Pochaev Lavra in Western Ukraine (See part 1 here)

One of the terrifying moments in the history of the great Pochaev Monastery happened very recently. On October 5th of 2003, the members of the UNA-UNSO, a fascist group now merged with the Right Sector (a radical nationalist group in Ukraine) came to cause strife, armed with improvised weapons.

No one really knows what their ultimate goals were, but one of them was definitely to cause mass havoc. Another thing is certain: they wanted to expel the canonical church, which is loyal to Russia, from the monastery.

Either way, they were armed and prepared to attack.  

When word went out that the Lavra was in danger, a great host answered the call to defend it. By the time the fascists arrived, standing in their way were the true walls of Pochaev, the Christian faithful: a veritable army on the march. The entire brotherhood was on procession with almost 300 of the faithful and seminarians.

It is actually not uncommon for Pochaev to have cross processions that number in the tens of thousands, and that is true of all the Russian lands.

At the vanguard of the procession were also Pochaev's special defenders: the Cossacks, armed with their faithful sabres, the favorite weapon of their forefathers! Lead by Ataman Dmitro Sahaidak, the leader of the Zaporozhian Host in Ukraine, the Cossacks were upon them!

Ataman Sahaidak with his mace, the symbol of Cossack authority.

Though perhaps people had thought the Cossacks and their great battles belonged to the Middle Ages, there they were again in 2003: like distant thunder from the past, the Cossacks stormed the fields until reaching Pochaev.

Even if their religious banners did not dissuade the enemies from doing any harm, the knowledge that every Cossack was a trained swordsman certainly did.

Note the Cossacks in that video are demonstrating a slightly more exaggerated swordsmanship in order to impress tourists. In actual combat or fencing, they fight much quicker, more conservatively, and less flamboyantly.

 Suffice to say, after mustering up a small disturbance with their pipes and improvised weapons, the fascists turned tail and fled.

They came from Kiev the Mother of Russian Cities, and they came from Vinnytsia. They came from the Zaporozhia of the Wild Fields beyond the Dnipro Rapids, the Motherland of the Cossacks, and they came from the azure shores of Crimea. With their Atamans (Generals) they came, until the Orthodox Faith was safe, in the Lavra they will forever remain.

With the blessing of the legitimate Church, they protect peaceful believers and prevent the violent Uniates and fascists from seizing it. Their presence has earned the suspicion of many Ukrainian nationalists, accusing them of being Russian separatists.

Cossacks have always had a close relationship with the Russian Church.

Yet even when the war started in Donbas, the Cossacks remained in Pochaev.

Their primary mission is here, to ensure the Lavra remains forever a lighthouse of the Russian Faith, a light shining into the darkness of a world that doesn't understand it, which prefers to dwell beneath moonless nights

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