Koshovyi Otaman
Kosh Otaman was the highest military rank of the Zaporizhian
Zaporozhian Host
The Zaporozhian Cossacks or simply Zaporozhians were Ukrainian Cossacks who lived beyond the rapids of the Dnieper river, the land also known as the Great Meadow in Central Ukraine...

Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

s in the 16-18th centuries.


The otaman was elected by elders (starshyna) of the Zaporozhian Host
Zaporozhian Host
The Zaporozhian Cossacks or simply Zaporozhians were Ukrainian Cossacks who lived beyond the rapids of the Dnieper river, the land also known as the Great Meadow in Central Ukraine...

. The position contained the highest military, administrative, and judicial powers. Until the establishment of the Cossack Hetmanate
Cossack Hetmanate
The Hetmanate or Zaporizhian Host was the Ruthenian Cossack state in the Central Ukraine between 1649 and 1782.The Hetmanate was founded by first Ukrainian hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky during the Khmelnytsky Uprising . In 1654 it pledged its allegiance to Muscovy during the Council of Pereyaslav,...

 the title was interchangeably used with Hetman
Hetman was the title of the second-highest military commander in 15th- to 18th-century Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which together, from 1569 to 1795, comprised the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, or Rzeczpospolita....

. During military campaigns powers of otaman were virtually unrestricted, but in peacetime the most important military and political issues he addressed to the council of starshynas (officers) and the military council. Kosh otaman was elected for a term of one year and in exceptional cases was reelected. Upon expiration of his term amounted to report on his activities to a military council. The Kosh otaman that was not reelected returned to his assigned kurin
Kurin is a military term that was established by the cossacks.During the Second World War, the basic combat unit of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was a kurin...



  • Open military councils (circle)
  • Headed starshyna councils
  • Enter diplomatic relationships with foreign countries
  • Distribute military trophies
  • Distribute profit from customs
  • Legitimize the division of pastures, estates, and land for hunting and fishing
  • Confirm the Kosh starshyna elected by the Sich council
  • Appointed palanka and other starshynas and sometimes military servicemen
  • Acting as supreme judge asserted the sentences made by kosh judge
  • Accepted clergymen from Kiev and appointed priests to the churches of Sich and palankas
  • During his absence appointed a nakazny otaman (lit. appointed otaman) as his deputy

In 1723 this rank was depreciated with the nomination of an Appointed Otaman (Наказний отаман) by the Tsar of Russia. Among most famous Koshovyi Otamans were Ivan Pidkova, Ivan Sirko
Ivan Sirko
Ivan Sirko was a Cossack military leader, Koshovyi Otaman of the Zaporozhian Host and putative co-author of the famous semi-legendary Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks that inspired a major painting by the 19th-century artist Ilya Repin.- Biography :...

, Petro Kalnyshevsky
Petro Kalnyshevsky
Kalnyshevsky Petro was the last Koshovyi Otaman of the Zaporozhian Host, serving in 1762 and from 1765 to 1775. Kalnyshevsky was the Hero in the Russo-Turkish war of 1768-1774 and was honoured with a gold medal with brilliants for courage.Being the leader of the Zaporozhian Host, Kalnyshevsky...

, and others. There were at least 30 Kosh Otamans in the history of Zaporizhian Sich before its collapse in 1775. Nothing is known about the Kosh Otamans of Tomak Sich, Bezlavuk Sich, and Mykytyn Rih Sich. The longest standing Sich was the Chortomlyk Sich of which most of information has survived. After the defeat at the battle of Poltava
Battle of Poltava
The Battle of Poltava on 27 June 1709 was the decisive victory of Peter I of Russia over the Swedish forces under Field Marshal Carl Gustav Rehnskiöld in one of the battles of the Great Northern War. It is widely believed to have been the beginning of Sweden's decline as a Great Power; the...

 and the Sich raid Kost Hordiyenko transferred the Sich downstream along Dnieper to the old settlement of Oleshky in 1709, which was part of Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. It took some 25 years before the Russian government allowed for Cossacks to return to reestablish the New Sich by Ivan Malashevych. With the destruction of Sich in 1775 Zaporizhian Cossacks have moved to Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....


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