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Ефремов Андрей Николаевич
Into the Sunrise

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    The place is called Voin Rural Locality, 2nd Khomustakhsky Nasleg, Namsky Ulus Municipality. Today, the name of the ancient Yakut settlement sounds fairly unusual. From days of yore, its Russian name has been passed by word of mouth in the local community from one generation to the next. On August 18, 2008 a chapel built in a nearby field was consecrated "In commemoration of the 375th anniversary of the first State Act - the swearing-in of Yakut chieftains." It was at that exact spot that Pyotr Beketov founded the first Cossack ostrog (fortress), back in 1632, with its legendary fortress tower, later moved to Yakutsk.

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Into the Sunrise

  
   The place is called Voin Rural Locality, 2nd Khomustakhsky Nasleg, Namsky Ulus Municipality. Today, the name of the ancient Yakut settlement sounds fairly unusual. From days of yore, its Russian name has been passed by word of mouth in the local community from one generation to the next. On August 18, 2008 a chapel built in a nearby field was consecrated "In commemoration of the 375th anniversary of the first State Act - the swearing-in of Yakut chieftains." It was at that exact spot that Pyotr Beketov founded the first Cossack ostrog (fortress), back in 1632, with its legendary fortress tower, later moved to Yakutsk. Local residents are well aware of the history of the place, and treat it with respect. Two more objects are soon to be completed: a log cabin in the image and likeness of the homes of the first Cossack settlers, and a Yakut balagan (a small wooden house).
   For the third time now the Yakutsk Cossacks, promoting military and patriotic education of youth, held an educational military camp for children studying in schools in the 2nd Khomustakhsky Nasleg and Yakutsk, the capital city of the Sakha Republic. This year the event held from August 11 to August 13was dedicated to the 385th anniversary of Yakutsk and titled "Into the Sunrise", after an old Russian expression depicting the migration of Russians to Siberia.
   The event's organizer and commander was Ivan Meshcheryakov, Ataman of the Yakutsk City Cossack Society "Yakutsk City Cossack Troop". Mr. Meshcheryakov, of Terek Cossack descent, is a police Major (retired) and a North Caucasus military operations veteran. Another active organizer was Nikolai Grebennikov, a police Colonel (retired) and an Afghanistan veteran. Today he serves as an assistant for military and patriotic education to the Military Commissioner, Sakha Republic (Yakutia), and chairs the Commission on Public Control, Corruption Prevention, Cooperation with Public Oversight Committees and Protection of Citizens' Rights and Freedoms of the Civic Chamber of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia).
   The route from Yakutsk to Voin was as follows: the Cossacks and schoolchildren assembled at a Cossack compound (Arzhakov Street 4/3, Yakutsk), then, by bus and by car, they reached the Grafsky Bereg rural locality where they boarded a ferry.
   The river journey proved to be a long one, and the Ataman ordered to set up folding tables, and the group enjoyed hot culinary delights from the Zastava Cossack restaurant. Upon reaching the opposite bank of the Lena River boys and girls had to work a bit pushing cars that got stuck in the sand. One young Cossack jokingly raised his hands to the sky, knelt and kissed the land of his ancestors.
   The children boarded a bus, this time a local one, and, some time later, the convoy arrived at the camp site. The field kitchen was set up promptly, the commanders picked a detail to help the cook. The Young Army cadets lavishly sprayed the location with repellent to keep midges and mosquitoes away - that is, the area where they intended to stay. If somebody left the camp, insects were all over him immediately, and he had to rush back to make them stop sucking his blood.
   Smaller tents were pitched promptly, but putting up the big ones, of a new type, proved to be a harder task: lots of tee-joints, tubes, supports and ropes provided the boys with ample food for thought and experimentation, and, finally, after much thinking and a lot of laughter, the big tents were set up. By the time when all problems were resolved, night came, and, after a late dinner, "lights out" command was given.
   In a military unit morning begins with the reveille command. A bell by the chapel rang. Reveille formation, morning exercises, breakfast. It should be noted that the Ataman expressly forbade the Cossacks and the Young Army cadets from bringing any food from home, as foodstuffs can turn bad quickly and cause problems in hot weather. Food was cooked using products purchased by the Cossacks: canned food, fresh vegetables, dried fruit, cereals, candy, etc. And, naturally, according to the ancient Christian tradition, Grace was said before eating. There is no other way to sanctify a meal. After breakfast, the flag-raising ceremony with the raising of the flags of the Russian Federation, the Cossack Regiment flag, and the flag of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). Next, a prayer at the chapel, allocation of tasks, and a commanders' meeting.
   The Young Army cadets practiced air rifle and air pistol shooting, passing through a gas chamber wearing gas masks, field stripping and reassembly of the Kalashnikov rifle, rifle magazine loading; they competed in cross-country running and rope pulling, learned how to march, crossed the Scout Trail course, played soccer.
   Alexander Zheltyakov, a Cossack Troop Sotnik, gave a master class in hand-to-hand combat to all teams. Girls and boys practiced kicks and hand strikes. Then the tallest of the cadets would try to make contact with the instructor with their hands or feet. None of them succeeded, and each of them they found himself or herself either tied in a knot or lying on the ground.
   Ivan Ivanovich, the housekeeping manager of the Voin secondary school, actively participated in the events. He drove children and Cossacks around on the local bus, managed the construction of the tent camp, and generally assisted the commanders in many ways. Once, during a couple of hours of free time, he organized a fairly amusing competition - a line fight in accordance with the rules of traditional Yakut wrestling called Khapsagai. All teams of Young Army cadets took part in the "survival fight", but, as the event was spontaneous, there were no definite winners, and history didn't keep the name of the cadet who bravely resisted four opponents at once to the end.
   The names of the Young Army team commanders who distinguished themselves in the contest were Sergei Alekseyev (Khatas team), Nikolai Popov (Voin team), Sergei Aksamentov (Legion team), Albert Struchkov (Bootur team), Semen Permyakov (Urankhai team), and Victor Novgorodov (Sakha team).
   The air pistol shooting competition comprised shooting from a variety of stances: standing, kneeling (with shooters running from one stop to another), and prone. Cadet Pavlov was the winner, Aksamentov was the runner-up, and Protopopov won the third place. Sergei Alekseyev was named the winner in the Kalashnikov rifle field stripping and reassembly competition. In the rifle magazine loading contest Renat Petrov was the fastest, and Slava Yushkov and Albert Struchkov won the second and third places respectively.
   The best air rifle shooter was determined in an uncompromising competition, it was Valera Gabyshev. Sardana Zakharova was the fastest in putting on a gas mask under simulated combat conditions. The Voin team came the winner on the Scout Trail course.
   The Scout Trail course begins with a rock-climbing rope stretched between two thick birch trees, as if over an abyss (in reality, less than two meters above ground). Nikolai Grebennikov placed a pile of bandages and a rope with a carabiner at its end under one of the trees. The task to perform was to give first aid to a "wounded" boy: bandage his head, his arm, put a splint on a "broken" leg. One scout was to climb the horizontal rope and, reaching its end, throw the piece of rope with the carabiner to the rest of the team. Next, they had to transport the "wounded" scout over the rope and continue the marathon, running to the next point, with one scout carrying the "wounded" cadet, and another hauling his rifle.
   "Let them figure out by themselves how to do it," said the Colonel. Well, the first team lost a lot of time trying figuring it out, and the second team that caught on with them could look and learn from their mistakes. But then the first team was given a second chance: they ran the course again.
   One of the obstacles was supposed to be a tear gas chamber that the cadets had to run through wearing gas masks. The problem was that there was no gas available and, what's more important, the commanders had to bear in mind that the participants were children. So, they had to find a solution, and they did. In a field where horses and cows were constantly grazing, they discovered a lot of organic matter suitable for smoke generation, and they collected the stuff, piled it in the tent, and ignited (it helped to drive away mosquitoes, too). The only casualty was the instructor who stayed by the tent throughout the whole procedure, and felt somewhat funny in the rich, abundant smoke.
   In the rare free time hours Young Army cadets bathed in the Lena River, walked, played soccer, listened to lectures on the history of Cossacks in Yakutia, and the rules and customs of the Cossack way of life. In the evening the cadets stood guard and went on patrols.
   Afanasy Dmitriyev, the head of the 2nd Khomustakhsky Nasleg, took the Cossacks on a tour of Cossack historic sites in the commander's car. He showed the Ataman and his assistants an ancient Cossack burial ground on the bank of the Lena River, across from the Namtsy village. Unfortunately, today the river keeps eroding the bank, and last year one grave was carried off by the water.
   On the day of the departure a tug-of-war competition was held, with packages of candies and boxes of cookies awarded as prizes. Finally, the Ataman ordered to leave all remaining sweets to the village kids.
   After the competition a ceremonial parade was held, the teams were awarded prizes and cups, winners in individual competitions received certificates. All Young Army cadets were given diplomas certifying their participation in the military camp.
   Finally, it was time to break camp and leave. Garbage was collected and buried. The team found the familiar ferry by the river bank. They boarded it and set sail. While admiring the views of Mother Lena River, both children and the Cossacks were sadly thinking that the camp time ended too soon.
   Ivan Meshcheryakov, Ataman of the Yakutsk City Cossack Society "Yakutsk City Cossack Troop" thanks Afanasy Dmitriev, Head of the 2nd Khomustakhsky Nasleg, and Sardana Nakhodkina, Acting School Principal, for their help and assistance in the organization of the field camp events.
  
  

By Andrei Efremov (Brem)

Translated by Anatoly Filippenko

http://artofwar.ru/f/filippenko_a_w/

  

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