Sech Rada

Sech’ Rada

 

the highest body in the Zaporozh’e Sech’.

The Sech’ Rada elected the host’s elders (koshevaia starshina) and decided all important military, diplomatic, economic, and other questions. Formally, every cossack had the right to take part in the Rada, and thus the overwhelming majority in the Rada were toiling cossacks and the poor (golota). However, the rich cossacks, using their economic position, deceit, bribery, and outright force, were able to place their candidates in all the important starshina offices and thus to guarantee that their own influence was decisive.

In the period of the Novaia (New) Sech’ (1734–75), the Sech’ Rada played a lesser role, and primacy shifted to the starshina rada (skhodka), or council of elders, which also included former starshina members and cossack “notables.” The Sech’ Rada was obliged only to obey the decrees of the starshina rada. The golota opposed this, and the Sech’ Rada was often the scene of violent confrontations, after which the candidates of the toiling cossacks were sometimes elected to the starshina. However, the starshina, relying on the support of the tsarist authorities, invariably ousted them in short order. When the Zaporozh’e Sech’  was abolished in 1775, the Sech’ Rada was abolished along with it.