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Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine Features: The Industrial Donets Basin (Donbas) In Southeastern Ukraine

Marko R. Stech (Toronto)

June, 2014

The northern part of the Donets Basin (Donbas), lying along the Donets River, belonged in the 11th-13th centuries to the sphere of influence of the Pereiaslav principality of Kyivan Rus’. The Donets was an important route from the Sea of Azov to the Chernihiv and Pereiaslav principalities. The salt lakes near Sloviansk were already being exploited at that time. Like all of southern Ukraine, the territory of the Donbas was controlled by nomadic hordes such as the Pechenegs, Cumans, and Tatars and was never permanently settled. The first permanent settlements were established by the Don Cossacks.

The encroachments of Muscovy into Slobidska Ukraine had an important influence on the settlement of the Donbas. In the second half of the 17th century fortified military outposts–Tor (later Sloviansk) and Bakhmut (later Artemivsk)–were established on the frontier with the Ottoman Empire. The Donbas’s small population began to increase at the end of the 18th century. Ukrainian settlers predominated, but in the east, particularly along the Donets River, there were also Russian settlers. As in other parts of steppe Ukraine, animal husbandry was initially the main occupation.

The industrial development of the Donbas began in the 1870s when railroads linking it with central Russia and the sea were constructed. The investment of foreign capital was an important factor in the industrialization of the Donbas. French, British, German, Belgian, and Russian capitalists owned almost all the metallurgical plants and mines of the Donbas.

By 1871 the Donbas coal industry had the highest production of anthracite in the Russian Empire. The ferrous-metallurgy also developed rapidly. By 1900 it outproduced the largest metal producer of the Russian Empire–the Urals–and became the principal coal and metallurgical base of the Russian Empire.

An industrial boom in the Donbas increased the demand for labor. Most of the Donbas workers came from Russia rather than Ukraine, particularly from the industrial heartland and the Central Chernozem region. As a result of this and some future migrations, the Donbas became the most Russified part of Ukraine…

Learn more about the industrial Donbas region in southeastern Ukraine by visiting:  http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/featuredentry.asp

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DONETS BASIN (DONBAS). The most important fuel source and industrial region of Ukraine and of all Eastern Europe, the location of highly developed coal industry, ferrous-metallurgy industry, machine building, chemical industry, and construction industry, enormous energy resources, diversified agriculture, and a dense transportation network. The Donbas lies in southeastern Ukraine and partly in the western Russian Federation, between the middle and lower Donets River in the north and the northeast and the Azov Upland and Azov Lowland in the south. The basin extends through Donetsk oblast and Luhansk oblast in Ukraine and part of Rostov oblast in Russia. The territory of Donetsk oblast and Luhansk oblast (53,200 sq km) is often included in the Donbas, although it also includes purely agricultural regions north of the Donets River and the Sea of Azov coastal region. The geographical location of the Donbas facilitates industrial growth and a dense network of railways and highways connects the region with the main centers of Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Today the Donbas is the most densely populated region of Ukraine. Ninety-three percent of its population is urban. Villages survive only on the periphery of the region and many of them are becoming increasingly urbanized. The present cities and towns have developed from former small industrial or mining settlements, which at first consisted of primitive, unsanitary barracks and workers’ earthen huts scattered around factories and mines. Only a few of the older towns–Bakhmut, Luhansk, Sloviansk–had the appearance and the status of towns…

Donetsk Metallurgical Plant

Donetsk Metallurgical Plant

DONETSK. City (2014 pop 949,825) in Donetsk oblast, called Yuzivka until 1924, then Staline or Stalino until 1961. Donetsk is an oblast capital in the Donets Basin and the largest center of metallurgy and coal mining in Ukraine. It is located in the steppe region on the Kalmius River. It is the fifth-largest city in Ukraine. Donetsk is a junction of railway and bus lines and has an airport. Together with Makiivka, Yasynuvata, Khartsyzk, and Avdiivka, Donetsk forms an urban cluster that, with a population of approximately two million, is the second-largest metropolis in Ukraine after Kyiv. Donetsk was established in 1869 as a settlement for the workers of the New Russia Company of Anthracite, Iron, and Rail Production, owned by the Welsh industrialist John Hughes and named Yuzivka (in Russian, Yuzovka) after him. Rapid industrial growth was promoted by the availability of large anthracite-coal deposits (especially coking coal) and water and by the construction of the Kostiantynivka (1872) and then the Donbas-Kryvyi Rih (1883) railway lines. In 1876 its metallurgical plant was the largest in the Russian Empire. As industry developed, the population increased greatly. The overwhelming majority of the newcomers were migrant Russian workers, as the Ukrainians in the surrounding areas were unwilling to abandon their agricultural pursuits in favor of an urban, industrial lifestyle. Most of the workers lived in poor one-story dwellings scattered chaotically along the banks of the Kalmius River…

Luhansk (aerial view)

Luhansk (aerial view)

LUHANSK. A city (2014 pop 424,113) at the confluence of the Luhanka River and the Vilkhivka River and the capital of Luhansk oblast. It is one of the major industrial centers of the country. In 1935-58 and from 1970 until May 1990 it was called Voroshylovhrad. Luhansk was founded in 1795, when the Russian imperial government decided to build a cannon foundry and ammunition factory for the Black Sea navy there. During the Napoleonic Wars the plant was greatly expanded, and the workers’ population increased. The state enterprise stimulated the development of mining in the Donets Basin. After the Crimean War the foundry could not compete with more efficient plants, and in 1887 it was shut down. By then Luhansk was a large industrial center linked by rail to the Dnieper Industrial Region and the ports of the Sea of Azov. In 1895 the government reopened a munitions factory in Luhansk, and in 1896 a Belgian firm established the largest steam engine plant in the Russian Empire there. By 1905 the plant was building 21 percent of the steam engines produced in the empire. The city’s population grew from 20,400 in 1897 to 34,000 in 1904 and 68,000 in 1914. Much of its population (68.2 percent in 1897) was composed of Russians. Under the Soviet regime the city grew rapidly in the interwar period. In 1938 it became the administrative center of a new Luhansk oblast…

Mariupol panorama

Mariupol panorama

MARIUPOL or MARIIUPIL. A port city (2013 pop 461,810) on the Sea of Azov at the mouth of the Kalmius River in Donetsk oblast. A major industrial center, it is the tenth-largest city in Ukraine. From 1948 to 1989 it was called Zhdanov. Its origins date back to the beginning of the 16th century, when the Cossack fortress of Kalmius was built. By 1611 Kalmius was the center of a palanka (an administrative territorial unit of the Zaporozhian Cossacks). When Russia annexed the territory in 1775, the fortress was renamed Pavlovsk, and the palanka was reorganized into a county. In 1780 many Greeks from the Crimea were resettled there, and the town was renamed Mariupol (Mariiupil, Marianopol). In the late 19th century Mariupol was developed as a shipping port for the Donets Basin, in 1882 it was linked with Donetsk by rail, and in 1886-9 the port was built. The main exports were coal and grain. From 1892 to 1897 the population of Mariupol almost doubled, from 17,000 to 32,000. About half of it consisted of Ukrainians and Russians, 28 percent, Greeks, and 21 percent Jews. In the late 1920s the port was expanded to handle the Donets Basin’s increased output, and the Mariupol Azovstal Metallurgical Plant was built. The Mariupol region became, after the Donbas and the Dnieper Industrial Region, the third-largest center of heavy industry in Ukraine…

Sloviansk Pedagogical University

Sloviansk Pedagogical University

SLOVIANSK. A city (2013 pop 117,445) on the Kazennyi Torets River and a raion center in Donetsk oblast. It originated as the fortified settlement Tor (established in 1645), which developed into a salt manufacturing and trading center. In 1685-1764 it was a Cossack company center of Izium regiment. Then it became a county center in Katerynoslav vicegerency. In 1784 Tor was reclassified as a town and renamed Slovenske. A decade later it was renamed Sloviansk and became a part of Slobidska Ukraine gubernia (from 1835, Kharkiv gubernia). With the construction of a railway line (1869) nearby, the town grew rapidly. Its greatest industrial expansion occurred during the industrialization drive of the 1930s. Today the city is an important industrial and health resort center. It has machine-building plants, including the Sloviansk Heavy-Machine-Building Plant, an electric power station, a soda and a chemicals manufacturing consortium, a salt and a ceramics manufacturing complex, and oil-processing and meat-processing industry complexes. The city’s main educational institution is the Sloviansk Pedagogical University…

Horlivka coal mine

Horlivka coal mine

HORLIVKA. City (2013 pop 256,714) under oblast jurisdiction in Donetsk oblast 40 km from Donetsk, one of the most important anthracite-mining and industrial centers in the Donets Basin, and a railway and highway junction. Founded beginning in the mid-18th century as the villages of Hosudariv Bairak, Mykytivka, Zaitseve, and Zalizna, it is named after a Russian mining engineer, Petr Gorlov, who built the first coal mine there in 1867. By the early 20th century the mining settlement had developed into an important industrial center. From 10,000 inhabitants in 1898, its population grew to 30,000 in 1916, 23,100 in 1926, and 181,500 in 1939. Horlivka was devastated during the Second World War, but by 1959 its population had grown to 308,000 (46 percent of which consisted of Ukrainians and 48 percent of Russians). Since 1970 its coal industry has not expanded (until then over 10 million t of coal was produced annually); consequently its population has been declining since 1970. Of Horlivka’s nine anthracite mines, several are among the largest in the Donbas. Also located there are five mineral-enrichment factories, the Styrol chemicals trust, a coke-chemicals plant, the Horlivka Machine-Building Plant (one of the largest coal-mining-machine manufacturers in the former USSR), and many other industrial enterprises…

Sviati Hory Monastery Saint Nicholas Church panorama

Sviati Hory Monastery Saint Nicholas Church panorama

SVIATOHIRSK. A city (2014 pop 4,630) on the Donets River in Donetsk oblast, administered by the Sloviansk city council. Its origins can be traced to the village of Banne (or Banivske), which was established by Prince Grigorii Potemkin near his palace and baths at the end of the 18th century. Under the Soviet regime it was converted into a health resort. In 1964 the town was granted city status and renamed Slovianohirsk. In independent Ukraine in 2003 it was renamed Sviatohirsk. A 17th-century limestone church and the Sviati Hory Dormition Monastery stand within the city limits. Although it is believed to have been founded as early as the 13th century, the first written record of the Sviati Hory Dormition Monastery dates from 1624. In the 15th century monks began living in caves on a hill overlooking the Donets River and worshipping in a grotto church. Their settlement developed both as a religious community centered around the 17th-century Saint Nicholas’s Church and as a fortified outpost on the frontier with the Crimean Tatars. The monastery expanded quickly in the second half of the 19th century along a terrace lower down the hill. By 1908 the entire complex housed 280 monks and novices and 340 retirees. Closed down by the Soviet authorities in the antireligious terror after the Revolution of 1917, the monastery was reinstated in independent Ukraine in 1992…

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The preparation, editing, and display of the IEU entries about the industrial Donets Basin in southeastern Ukarine were made possible by the financial support of the CANADIAN FOUNDATION FOR UKRAINIAN STUDIES.

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Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine Features: The Industrial Donets Basin (Donbas) In Southeastern Ukraine Reviewed by on . Marko R. Stech (Toronto) June, 2014 The northern part of the Donets Basin (Donbas), lying along the Donets River, belonged in the 11th-13th centuries to the sph Marko R. Stech (Toronto) June, 2014 The northern part of the Donets Basin (Donbas), lying along the Donets River, belonged in the 11th-13th centuries to the sph Rating: 0
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