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Cossacks were usually organized by Ruthenian boyars or princes of the nobility, especially various Lithuanian starostas.
It is not clear when new Slavic people apart from Brodnici and Berladniki started settling in the lower reaches of major rivers such as the Don and the Dnieper after the demise of the Khazar state.
In 1261 some Slavic people living in the area between the Dniester and the Volga were mentioned in Ruthenian chronicles.
Historical records of the Cossacks before the 16th century are scant as the history of the Ukrainian lands in that period for various reasons.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Tsarist regime used Cossacks extensively to perform police service.
They also served as border guards on national and internal ethnic borders (as was the case in the Caucasus War).