Kuban (kōbănˈ, –bänˈ, Rus. kōbäˈnyə) [key], river, c.570 mi (920 km) long, rising in the Greater Caucasus on the western slopes of Mt. Elbrus, S European Russia, and flowing north in a wide arc past Karachayevsk, Cherkessk, and Armavir, then W past Krasnodar, entering the Sea of Azov through two arms. Its upper course is precipitous and leads through several gorges; it then meanders slowly through the Kuban Steppe, a rich black-earth area and one of the major grain and sugar-beet districts of Russia. The last 150 mi (240 km) are navigable. Russia annexed the khanate of Crimea, of which the Kuban area was a part, in 1783. Now mainly within the Krasnodar Territory, the Kuban region was from about the mid-18th cent. to 1920 the territory of the Kuban Cossacks. After Catherine II defeated (1775) the Zaporizhzhya Cossacks in Ukraine, some of them emigrated to Turkey, but in 1787 they were allowed to return and settle along the Black Sea between the Dnieper and the Buh rivers. Then known as the Black Sea Cossacks, they were in 1792 resettled in the Kuban region. Though they lost much of their freedom and their rights were restricted, they were granted local self-government in return for military service. In 1860 they were renamed the Kuban Cossacks, while defending the Kuban region from hostile Circassian mountaineers to the south. After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the Kuban Cossacks proclaimed an independent republic and fought against the Bolsheviks. After the civil war of 1918–20 the Soviet regime abolished their government, and their traditional privileges were abrogated.
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