The Cossacks and the authorities
The Cossacks had a very strong tradition of independence. Though recognizing the authority of the Russian Tsar, they would not let government officials arrest runaway serfs accepted into Cossack communities. Their freedom was formulated in two brief formulas: "There is no extradition from the Don" (S Donu vydachi net) and "We do not bow to anybody, except Tsar" (My ne klanyaemsya nikomu, okromya Gosudarya). So, despite their free-spirited independence, the Cossacks had a special relationship with the Romanov Dynasty. And for sure, Cossacks always had very specific relationship with the Russian State.
With support of Russia the Cossacks expanded eastward from their home in the Don and were early colonizers of Siberia. For example, ataman Ermak, the conqueror of Siberia, was a Cossack. In 1648 the Cossack Semion Dezhnev rounded the northeastern tip of Asia, way before Vitus Bering, who only in 1728 announced that Asia and America are separate (really, it would be more appropriate to call it the Dezhnev Strait). Many cities in Siberia were founded as Cossack settlements (stanitsa). In fact, Cossacks were the founders of almost all Siberian towns.
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