The term was applied initially to venturesome men who entered the steppe seasonally for hunting , fishing , and the gathering of honey. Their numbers were continually augmented by peasants fleeing serfdom and adventurers from other social strata, including the nobility. Banding together for mutual protection, the Cossacks by the midth century had developed a military organization of a peculiarly democratic kind, with a general assembly rada as the supreme authority and elected officers, including the commander in chief, or hetman. The Polish government found the Cossacks a useful fighting force in wars with the Tatars, Turks, and Muscovites but in peacetime viewed them as a dangerously volatile element. Attempts to control them institutionally and to limit their numbers through an official register created serious discontent among the Cossacks, who increasingly perceived themselves as forming a distinct estate with inherent rights and liberties. Sporadically over a half century starting in , the Cossacks rose up in revolts that were put down only with great difficulty.
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Europe's human rights court has partially allowed Ukraine's complaint against Russia's actions in Crimea. Ukraine maintained that Russia has exercised effective control over the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, integral parts of Ukraine, since 27 February Ukraine alleges that the violations of the Convention are a result of general administrative practice by the Russian Federation. Ukraine has lodged a number of other inter-State cases against Russia, and there are more than 7, individual applications concerning events in Crimea, Eastern Ukraine and the Sea of Azov. Russia's occupation of Crimea in was the biggest territorial seizure in Europe since World War II and came just weeks after Ukraine's President Victor Yanukovych fled the country for Moscow in the face of the Maidan protests. After the departure of Yanukovych, who was close to Russia and President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine's new leadership announced that it would sign an association agreement with the European Union. Following the announcement, armed men - wearing Russian military uniforms but with no official insignia - began occupying key facilities and checkpoints in Crimea.
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The London-based human rights watchdog said in a report published on December 11 that the situation for women in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions has been "aggravated and intensified. Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists has killed more than 13, people in eastern Ukraine since April The conflict has left some 2. The report highlights the case of Oksana Mamchenko, a divorcee with 12 children from Kramatorsk, the Ukrainian government's provisional administrative center in the Donetsk region, which shows the difficulties a woman can face when calling local authorities about an incident.
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