Otaman (from Turkic origin). The leader (usually elected) of all or parts of the Zaporozhian Host. In the Zaporizhia the kish otaman was the chief executive officer, and each Cossack kurin at the Zaporozhian Sich was headed by a kurin (kurinnyi) otaman. If an otaman was not elected but appointed, for instance during a military campaign, he was called acting (nakaznyi) otaman. In the Hetman state the company (sotennyi) and regimental town (horodovyi) otaman was the captain's lieutenant. A village's kurin otaman commanded its military unit, and the village (sil’s’kyi) otaman was the civil authority. There were also otamans of the Hetman state's general artillery, regimental artilleries, volunteer regiments and companies, and mercenary cavalry (zholdak) troops.

In the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic of 1917–19 an otaman was a division, corps, or army group commander. The rank was replaced by that of general in 1920. In the Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen and the Ukrainian Galician Army an otaman was equal in rank to a major. As commander in chief of the UNR Army the head of the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic (later the president of the Ukrainian National Republic) was called the supreme otaman (holovnyi otaman). Symon Petliura was supreme otaman from November 1918 until his death. An acting otaman (nakaznyi otaman) was a temporary commander of the UNR Army, appointed by the supreme otaman to take charge of the military operations at the front. Gen Oleksander Osetsky and Gen Oleksander Hrekov were acting otamans. The commanders of the various partisan groups and units that operated during the Ukrainian-Soviet War, 1917–21 (see Partisan movement in Ukraine, 1918–22), were also called otamans, and their often arbitrary and even anarchic rule came to be known as otamanshchyna.

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