Really excited to announce that the 6-part ABC documentary series The Trail Of Genghis Khan is being repeated on ABC2, mondays, all summer long! Tonight, January 26, Episode 4 'No Place for Nomads' airs at 10.15pm
Episode 4, which plays tonight (10.15pm) in Australia focuses on the Cossacks of Southern Russia, the upheaval of society in Crimea between Russians and Crimean Tatars (pre-Russian occupation in 2014), and an unexpected personal tragedy.
The film picks up as I leave Kalmykia to Stavropol and Krasnodar provinces and encountered my first ploughed fields, and a Cossack culture on the path to revival. After much help from charismatic identity, Luuti, I managed to get a ferry across the Kerch strait and into Ukraine. Arriving in Crimea was like landing in paradise: green grass as far as the eye could see, the waters of the black sea and soaring mountains. But belying this utopian exterior, tensions were building. Russians, unhappy about the Orange revolution (at the time a pro-European Union government had come to power in Kiev), seemed particularly bent on venting their outrage at the Crimean Tatars (considered to be pro-Orange revolution and European integration). The Crimean Tatars, who are the descendants of the last nomad empire to reign over the Crimean Peninsula, had been deported en mass to Central Asia in 1944 by Stalin, accused as Nazi-sympathisers. Only in 1989 had they been officially allowed to begin returning. But old prejudices die hard, and many Russians in Crimea saw the Tatar return with great suspicion. While I was in Crimea a tense stand off at an ancient mausoleum site boiled over into violence, the army was brought in, and the spiritual capital of the Crimean Tatars, Bakchisarai, was closed down. You will see in many ways the social dynamics that came into play during the more recent Russian occupation of Crimea.
Eventually I rode into Ukraine where I would receive some terrible news from home...
Inspired by the nomads of Mongolia whose ancestors created the largest empire in history, Australian adventurer Tim Cope set out alone to ride by horse from Mongolia, 10,000kms across the great Eurasian steppe to Hungary.
With his three horses and his dog Tigon, Tim has now travelled more than 4000 kilometres across Mongolia and Kazakhstan to the Buddhist Republic of Kalmykia in Southern Russia. With the passing of his second winter he must now press on across Russia to the Black Sea and Crimea.
Until now Tim has been travelling through wild, unfenced steppe, but he is suddenly thrown into the ploughed fields of the sedentary world where he is not welcome. Down and out, Tim eventually finds support from the Cossacks who were once horseback warriors who adopted nomad customs, and they see in Tim the values that embody their heritage. The local Cossack mafia treat Tim like one of their own and arrange for a safe crossing into the Crimea.
Descending to the town of Bakhchisarai, the old capital of the Crimean Khanate, Tim finds himself in the midst of a conflict between the indigenous Crimean Tatars and the local Russians. Rattled by the violence, Tim travels onwards through the heat of summer to mainland Ukraine. It seems that the hardship is over and Tim is on the home run as he heads into his third consecutive winter with just 2000kms to Hungary. He is badly mistaken...