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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) In the USSR, a rural-type population center in what were once the cossack regions. The representative organ of state power is the stanitsa soviet of working people’s deputies.

(2) In Russia in the 17th and 18th centuries, a cossack settlement and, from the 19th century, an administrative-territorial unit (and center) in the cossack regions. The stanitsa comprised khutora (individual farmsteads) and poselki (settlements). The cossack population of a stanitsa made up the stanitsa society (stanichnoe obshchestvo). The organ of the stanitsa society was the stanitsa assembly (sbor), which consisted of cossack heads of household (from 1891, only elected heads of household). The sbor elected the administrative board—consisting of the stanitsa ataman, his deputy, and the treasurer—and the stanitsa court. It allocated cossack lands and tax obligations, ran the society’s grain stores, and supervised the school. The stanitsa court heard petty criminal and civil cases.

(3) From the 15th to 17th centuries, a small mounted detachment of 60–100 men, made up of sluzhilye liudi (servicemen) and cossacks, sent into the steppe to guard the frontiers and patrol the main routes of travel of the Crimean Tatars who raided southern and southeastern Russia. Unlike the storozha (see), the stanitsa moved far into the steppe and patrolled individual sectors—scouting, taking prisoners, and routing small bands of Tatars.

(4) From the 16th through 18th centuries, an “embassy” from the cossack hosts to the tsar in Moscow or St. Petersburg. Every winter, the “winter stanitsa,” with as many as 20 men and sometimes headed by a host ataman, bore gifts and important papers to the tsar and received salaries for cossacks. During the rest of the year, three or four “light stanitsy,” of three to five men, made the journey. In the 18th century, stanitsy grew steadily fewer; at the end of the 18th century, with the single exception of the annual winter stanitsa detailed by the Urals Cossack Host, which sent valuable fish and caviar to the tsar, stanitsy were abolished.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.