Col. Andrey Valeryanovich Kvitka (Kvitko)

Col. Andrey Valeryanovich Kvitka (Kvitko). Born in Kharkov in 1849, this swashbuckling eye-patched officer came from Cossack nobility and earned a spot at the elite Corps de Pages, serving as a cornet with the Life Guards by 1868. Fighting as a major with the 29th Don Cossack Regiment in the Turkish War in 1877, where he was decorated, he then took part in Gen. Skobelev’s camel-borne Akhal-Teke expedition against the Tekin tribes in Turkmeinistan in 1880, which included the seige and storming of the vast citidel at Geoktepe, a bit of Russian campaigning every bit as colonial as that of the time waged by the British across Central Asia and India. Retired in 1885, he moved abroad and spent most of the next 20 years writing, making wine and advocating early automobiles in France. When war came again in 1904, he returned to active service as a 55-year-old colonel of the 2nd Nerchinsk Cossack Regiment, serving in Manchuria. Released from service in 1907, he penned no less than four romanticized books about his time with the Cossacks while building a dacha kvitko Western European-style castle/dacha built of gray stone in Sochi for his Italian wife. Too old (68) to serve in a line unit in the Great War, he nonetheless helped with training and organizing Cossack units and hospital trains, then fled to the West after the Revolution and Civil War. He died in Rome in 1923 and his dacha, still around after stints as a Cheka headquarters, sanitorium, military hospital during WWII, and health resort, has taken on a life of its own.

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