Ataman

Ataman

[at-uh-muhn]

Ataman (variants: wataman, vataman, otaman, Cyrillic: атаман (Russian), ватаман (Russian, regional), отаман (Ukrainian)) was a title of Cossack and haidamak leaders of various kinds. The term was also used for the leader of a fisherman artel and of a band of robbers or thieves.

The etymology of the word "ataman" is disputed, see Hetman: Etymology. During certain periods the supreme leader of Ukrainian Cossacks was called Hetman.

Among various types of the military grade of ataman were voisko ataman (войсковой атаман), campaign ataman (походный атаман), kosh ataman (кошевой атаман), kuren (kurin) ataman (куренной атаман) and .

Territorial leaders: okrug ataman (окружной атаман), stanitsa ataman (станичный атаман), khutor ataman (хуторской атаман).

Usually atamans were elected. However during campaigns they could be appointed. In this case he was called nakaznoy ataman, (наказной атаман), i.e., acting or appointed ataman.

In the Cossack Hetmanate leaders of non-Cossack military units (artillery, etc.) were also called otamans.

20th century

Atamans were titles of supreme leaders of anti-Bolshevik Cossack armies during the Russian Civil War.

The head of the army of the Ukrainian People's Republic, in particular, Symon Petliura, was called holovnyi otaman (головний отаман, supreme otaman).

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