Polkovnyk (полковник), was a high military rank among the Ukrainian Cossack starshyna (officers). Polkovnyk was a leader of a military unit (regiment or similar), as well as a leader of a territorial unit of the Cossack Hetmanate, Sloboda Ukraine or Zaporozhian Host. The word is commonly translated as Colonel, however the transliteration is also in common usage, for the sake of the historical and social context.
In the Zaporozhian Host
, the political, social, and military organization of Ukrainian Cossacks, polkovnyk was a high rank officer, a commander of one or several military detachments during land and naval military actions in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. Sometimes polkovnyk was also called serdiuk
(сердюк). In the eighteenth century, a polkovnyk was a leader of a palanka
, a territorial unit of the Zaporozhian Host
. A palanka polkovnyk was elected by military council for one year. He represented the Koshovyi Otaman
in the Palanka and had significant powers, including the right to condemn Cossacks to death penalty. At the time of liquidation of Zaporozhian Host by the Russian
government in 1775
there were eight palanka polkovnyks. The polkovnyk's symbol of office was a pernach
(a mace with a hexagonal head; see also bulava
), worn in the belt.
Registered Cossack Army
In the Registered Cossack Army
(Reyestrove kozats’ke viys’ko
) of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth polkovnyk
was a commander of a regiment
), a Cossack military unit. After the reform of the Cossack army by hetman Mykhailo Doroshenko
there were six Cossack regiments, each comprising one thousand Cossacks. Polkovnyks were elected by the Cossack Council (rada
) and that had to be approved by the Polish government. A polkovnyk obtained salary for his service, and enjoyed considerable privileges. After adopting the "Ordination" by the Sejm of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
in 1638, only noblemen
) were allowed to become polkovnyks.
During Khmelnytskyi Uprising
and in Hetmanate Ukraine
Polkovnyk was a head of a territorial administrative unit, the Regiment
(полк, polk ).
In modern Ukraine, Polkovnyk is a military rank inferred from the similar rank of the Soviet Army
). It compares to the rank of Colonel