Cossack helper (pidpomichnyk). Name of members of the poorer Cossacks, who constituted the majority of the Cossack estate in the 18th-century Hetman state. Too poor to own their own arms and equipment and therefore to perform military service, most Cossack helpers performed auxiliary tasks for the Cossack army such as providing supplies or cultivating the land of the elect Cossacks when they were away fighting. They were obliged to equip and support one man for each two or three Cossack-helper households in time of war. In extreme emergencies (defense of the country) they were all pressed into military service as foot soldiers. In 1734–6 the Russian Governing Council of the Hetman Office made the final division of the Cossack estate into the elect Cossacks and Cossack helpers. Thereafter the status and privileges of the helpers differed little from those of the common peasants. In 1764 there were about 200,000 Cossack helpers in Left-Bank Ukraine. With the official introduction of serfdom by the Russian government in 1783, the Cossack helpers were demoted to the status of state peasants.
Encyclopedia of Ukraine