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// GENERAL INFORMATION
Ryazan Region is located in the central part of European Russia. It has an area of 39 600 km2, a population of more than 1.3 million, and an average population density of 33.1 people per km2. The region borders on Vladimir Region in the north, Nizhny Novgorod Region in the northeast, the Republic of Mordovia in the east, Penza Region in the southeast, Tambov and Lipetsk regions in the south, Tula Region in the west, and Moscow Region in the northwest. This location ensures stable domestic and foreign economic ties. Ryazan Region has a well-developed transportation network: three railway lines and three federal highways pass through it, and Ryazan's training airfield can handle any class of airplane.
The region consists of 25 districts, 12 cities (4 under regional jurisdiction and 8 under district jurisdiction), 28 towns, and 505 rural councils. The largest cities are Ryazan, Kasimov, Sasovo, Skopin, and Ryazhsk.
Ryazan Region is an old industrial center with a diversified industrial complex. The most important industries are engineering and metalworking. Industries here mainly produce metal-cutting machines, press-forging equipment, petroleum products, electronics, automobile components, agricultural machinery, cast metal, building materials, and furniture.
Ten research institutes, 10 higher educational institutions (including four military institutions, one of which, the Ryazan Higher Airborne Command School, is the only one of its kind in Russia), and 31 special secondary institutions operate in Ryazan Region.
The region's administrative center is Ryazan, one of Russia's oldest cities, which marked its 905th anniversary in 2000. Ryazan is located on the right bank of the Oka River and covers an area of 175.6 km2. The population of Ryazan is more than 535 000.
Today, Ryazan is a major industrial center that produces about 70% of the region's total industrial output. The city's main industrial sectors are engineering (primarily agricultural engineering), instrument making, electronics, and petrochemicals.
Ryazan is also an important scientific and cultural center. The architectural and historical monuments preserved in the city and region are of great historical and tourist significance. The best known structure in Ryazan is the Ryazan Kremlin, with its 17 historical and architectural monuments. It was declared a historical and architectural museum preserve in 1968. Numerous cultural institutions, such as theaters, museums, concert halls, movie theaters, the philharmonic, and the circus, are also open for visitors and city residents.
Up to the 14th century, the capital of the Ryazan principality was not modern Ryazan, but the city of Spasska on the Oka River near the present district center. As early as 1096, Ryazan had the status of a country, but the name of its capital appears only in the Nikonov chronicle. The first Olgovsky Uspensky Monastery, one of the oldest in Russia, was built in Ryazan land in the 12th century. A new round of history began in 1198, when the Murom-Ryazan principality left the jurisdiction of the Chernigov bishopric (eparchy) and became an independent eparchy with its seat in Ryazan.
In the 13th century, the principality was centered in the middle reaches of the Oka River and lasted for a considerable time. In the words of historian D.I. Ilovaisky, "The Ryazan principality was the most warlike and restive branch of the house of Rurik." The Russians who began settling the right bank of the Oka in the 10th century were faced with the onslaught of nomadic cattle-herding tribes that repeatedly invaded the forests from the south. Ryazan was the first Russian city to be hit by the Mongol-Tatar invasion in 1237. The city was destroyed and reduced to a village (now a large town) known as Old (Staraya) Ryazan.
In the aftermath, the main events connected with Russia's struggle for independence from the Horde unfolded on the edge of the steppes in the Battle of Kulikovo of 1380 and on the upper Don River in 1480. Right up to the 18th century, the steppe inhabitants continued to harass the Russian lands with sweeping raids from the south. For a long time, the Oka River and its left tributary the Ugra were a natural defense against the threat from the steppes. The chronicles called them the Holy Virgin's sash that defended Russian soil.
The Prince of Moscow took possession of Kolomna in 1306, but for a long time the boundary between Moscow and Ryazan held firm near the city, passing just south of the present location of Shchurovo. A Moscow-Ryazan boundary post placed here at a time when provinces, territories, and regions were being reshaped has miraculously been preserved right up to the present. On one side of the post is a portrayal of a mounted St. George the Victorious (Georgy Pobedonosets); and on the other, a foot soldier, who is often seen as Prince Oleg of Ryazan (Oleg Ryazansky). This boundary post is perhaps the only remaining symbol of old Ryazan.
The most dramatic events in the history of the grand princedom are linked with the name of Oleg Ryazansky, at a time when it cherished the hope of being Moscow's equal. This was in the 14th century, in the time of Dmitry Donskoi, when what is now Ryazan (called Pereslavl-Ryazansky at the time) had already become the capital of Ryazan land. As far as Moscow was concerned, late Muscovite chronicles invariably portrayed Oleg Ryazansky as a bitter enemy who had betrayed the common Russian cause. From the chronicles of 1350-1402, it is clear that the Ryazan principality acquired real power under Prince Oleg Ivanovich Ryazansky, who had a great advantage over the Muscovite princes in governing the principality. Prince Oleg was an outstanding warrior and politician, and these qualities helped him to maneuver constantly between the Horde, Lithuania, and Moscow. After his death, his descendents were unable to stand up against Moscow and the Ryazan principality came under its authority in 1521. For a long time, this was the prevailing opinion in historiography, although it is by no means historical and is not supported in serious scholarship. After all, Ryazan land had experienced the horrors of the Tatar invasions to a much greater extent than any other Russian lands. In any event, Oleg has gone down in history as a warrior; and Ryazan's frontier location made this image the most important, as well as favorite one, which is why he is portrayed on the old Ryazan coat of arms.
After Moscow's victory, Ryazan became one of its districts, then a governorship, and finally a province. It is hard to say why Ryazan's fortunes were so changeable. However, one reason is that Ryazan land faced the southern steppes and could not resist the steppe dwellers by itself, and so the Moscow government had to find some sort of ambiguous solution that would both preserve the outward appearance of Ryazan's independence and allow Moscow to "take over everything."
For a long time, Ryazan was called Pereslavl-Ryazansky, a name that historians associate with the name of Prince Yaroslav Svyatoslavovich of Chernigov. Russian legends whose heroes valiantly resisted the enemy are connected with these places, for example, the legend of the renowned warrior Evpaty Kolovrat, of the princess of Zaraisk, who threw herself from a tower of the Kremlin to avoid becoming a hostage of the khan, and of Avdotya Ryazanochka.
In 1778, the Pereslavl-Ryazansky received the shorter name of Ryazan by Decree of Empress Catherine II (Catherine the Great). By the end of the 18th century, the city had a secure economic position and commerce and trades were flourishing. Religious schools, seminaries, a printing shop, a public school, and an opera and drama theater opened. In the early Soviet period, Ryazan once again became a district of Moscow Region, becoming an independent region only in 1937. Its boundary with Moscow had moved far south of Shchurov, so that the old boundary post was turned into a kind of monument to the fickleness of life.
By the early 1940s, Ryazan was becoming a large industrial center. During the Second World War, thousands of Ryazanians fought on all fronts, while the remaining residents strengthened the rear by working in the factories and fields. Ryazan alone produced more than 200 kinds of industrial goods. A monument with an Eternal Flame has been set up in the city center in memory of Ryazan's heroes of the front and rear.
The region's economy quickly revived in the postwar years, and new industries appeared, e.g., the light and food industries, agricultural engineering, and the building material industry. Many existing factories and plants were rebuilt and refitted.
Today, Ryazan is not only an industrial center, but also a large scientific and cultural center, where the rich legacy of the past is carefully preserved.
Ryazan Region is located in the central part of the Russian Plain between the Central Russian and Volga uplands. The region has a temperate continental with a predominantly westerly flow of air masses. The average January temperature is -10°N, and the average July temperature is +20°N; average annual precipitation is 500 mm, about 25-30% of it in the form of snow. The terrain is flat, with a highest point of no more 300 m above sea level. The main topographic feature of the lowland is that it is separated by ancient NS-trending flat washdown hollows into a number of watersheds. Soils are podzolic and boggy on the left bank of the Oka, changing southward to more fertile podzolic and leached black earths (chernozems).
Most of the available land in the region is used for agricultural purposes (68.6%). Forest reserves occupy another 19.2%; population centers, 5.5%; protected areas, 2.6%; land for industrial, transportation, and other nonagricultural purposes, 1.7%; reserve land, 1.8%; and water resources, 0.6%.
The soils of Rostov Region are subject to significant water erosion, and to a lesser extent, to wind and combined wind and water erosion. In addition, the soils in 19 of the 25 districts in Ryazan Region have been exposed to radioactive contamination as a result of the Chernobyl disaster: 13% of the region has a 137Cs soil contamination density of 1 to 5 Ci/km2. The gamma background in the region does not exceed the natural background.
The main waterway in Ryazan Region is the Oka River, which flows through the region from the border with Moscow Region to the border with Vladimir Region, dividing it into northern and southern parts. The forested northern part of Ryazan Region is in the Meshchera Lowlands and is located at elevations of 80-100 m above sea level, while the southern part includes deciduous forest and forest steppe zones.
The Oka flows for 489 km within the region and has a drainage area of 38 300 km2, or 98% of the region's territory; the remaining 3% of the territory belongs to the Don River basin, which flows for only 10 km through the region. Altogether, the region has 895 rivers with lengths of 3 km or more and a combined length of 5911 km. Most of the rivers belong to the Oka River basin. These are lowland rivers with a flow regime characterized by high spring runoff.
In addition, there are more than 500 large ponds with a surface area of 60 000 hectares and large sapropel [aquatic ooze] deposits that are not currently being worked. Explored reserves in 52 of these ponds amount to 81 million m3. The region also has 2800 large and small lakes.
The forests of Ryazan Region consist mainly of coniferous species, with pine predominating. Forest reserves cover a total area of 1 123 400 hectares, including 450 000 hectares of coniferous forest, with a calculated cutting area of 1 330 000 m3.
There are 107 specially protected natural areas in Ryazan Region with a total area of 103 500 hectares. One of these is the Oka State Biosphere Reserve (55 700 hectares), which has international significance. Continual monitoring of animal populations, vegetation dynamics, fruiting of the principal plant species, phenological and hydrometeorological phenomena, and the condition of rare plants and animals is carried out in the reserve. One of the main lines of scientific activity in the reserve is in-depth study of individual animal species. In the first years of the reserve's existence, a large amount of work was carried out on studying and preserving the one of the country's rarest animals, the muskrat. This was followed in 1937-1940 by projects to reintroduce the beaver, which had been exterminated in Ryazan Region even before the beginning of the last century, and to restore the moose population. The Central Ornithological Station and the Biological Survey Group also operate within the preserve, as well as bison and crane breeding centers, where methods are being developed for raising them in open-air enclosures for later introduction to nature.
Other protected areas in Ryazan Region include Meshchera National Park (103 000 hectares), 47 nature reserves (14 900 hectares), 57 natural sites (7900 hectares), and internationally significant group A wetlands (Ramsar Convention).
Ryazan Region has abundant nonmetallic mineral resources, such as sand, clay, limestone, and marl. Glassmaking and quartz sand deposits have been discovered in Skopinsky, Miloslavsky, and Klepikovsky districts; and deposits of refractory and pottery clay, loam, mineral pigments, and carbonates have been explored in these same areas.
Industry in Ryazan Region is nearly self-sufficient in raw stock for building materials. Fusible and refractory clays are used to make facing tiles, plumbing construction products, and facing brick.
Deposits of white calcareous limestone used to make lime are located in the region's northern and eastern districts. Cement limestone produced near the city of Mikhailov on the Don River is used in road construction and paving. Deposits of gypsum-bearing rocks, phosphorites, coal, limonite, sapropel, and therapeutic mud have also been explored in the region.
Sapropel is used as fertilizer, as a therapeutic agent, as a feed additive, etc.; however, the deposits are not being developed at the present time.
Other resources include 1229 deposits of high-quality peat, which is used as fertilizer and fuel. Total peat reserves are relatively small, and most are located in the Meschera Lowlands and east of the Moksha and Tsna rivers. In addition, more than 1 million m3 of fumed black oak are deposited on the bottom of the Oka, Moksha, and Tsna rivers; it can be used to make decorative items, jewelry, construction finishing materials, and furniture.
Ryazan Region is part of the Central economic district. The region is in an economically favorable geographical location owing to the water and land routes that pass through it and provide stable domestic and foreign economic ties. In terms of GDP, value of fixed capital stock, number of production personnel, and scientific and technical potential, Ryazan Region is significantly ahead of other large economic districts in the country.
The region's industry is noted for the manufacture of high-end, labor-intensive products (power industry, engineering and metalworking). This high industrial potential requires high thermal energy consumption; thus, the region's leading industrial sector is the power industry, which has a 25.1% share in the total volume of goods and services. High-output electric power plants and cogeneration plants form the basis of the thermal power industry.
Next in importance in the sectoral production structure are engineering and metalworking, which have a 21.2% share in the total volume of goods and services. Their products are in demand both in Russia and on world markets. High scientific and technical potential, the use of high technologies, and the presence of experimental and developmental bases have contributed to the production of high-precision, sophisticated machines and equipment.
The most highly developed industrial sectors include machine tools and other tools (metal-cutting machines; transfer lines; machining centers; vertical drills; punching and forging machines; household tools; foundry process equipment; and steel, iron, and nonferrous castings), instrument making, car manufacturing, and tractor and agricultural engineering. The Ryazan Heavy Engineering Plant (Ryazansky zavod tyazhelogo mashinostroeniya) manufactures press-forging equipment and automated machine tools. Companies in the precision engineering, machine tool, agricultural engineering, and road-building machine industries operate in Ryazan, Skopin, Kasimov, and other cities.
The Ryazan State Instrument Plant (Gosudarstvenny Ryazansky priborny zabod) has been manufacturing high-quality radar equipment for the air force for more than 50 years, and is one of the country's leaders in this sector. The plant is outfitted with the latest equipment and has a strong instrument base and skilled personnel. In addition, the plant is expanding production of technical, production, and household goods, while maintaining their tradition of high quality.
OAO Ryazan Radio Engineering Plant (Ryazansky radiozavod) manufactures radio sets, communications equipment, loudspeakers, and other radio components conforming to international standards. Ryazan specializes in transport engineering products. An AvtoZIL subsidiary is located in the city.
OAO Sasta, a machine tool plant in Sasovo, has also distinguished itself on the production market. Following a steep drop in demand for specialized machine tools and transfer lines, the plant converted to the production of road-building machinery, which is in great demand on the goods and services market. After establishing relations with Italian and German firms that provided technical documentation and equipment installation specialists, the plant began producing asphalt miniplants, rollers, and other road-building machinery. At the same time, the company is continuing to produce up-to-date metal-cutting machines that are exported to 30 countries.
The chemical and petrochemical industry is another key sector, with a 2.4% share of industrial production. Chemical companies produce plastic goods, polymer films, viscose fiber, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, oils, benzene, fuel oil, and asphalt, as well as organic chemicals. Both hydrocarbon feedstock from local petrochemical companies and feedstock imported from the Volga region and Siberia are used as raw materials. OAO Ukholovsky Pigment and ZAO Kompozit manufacture high-quality varnishes and paints. Paints manufactured in Ryazan are used in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Perm, Tyumen, Togliatti, and many other Russian cities, and there are no complaints about quality.
Ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy is also very important. The industry is represented by expanded old metallurgical plants that manufacture solder alloy, tin, powdered tin, babbitt metal [a soft alloy of tin, antimony, copper, and usually, lead used to line bearings], zinc and zinc sulfate, iron and nonferrous castings, and powdered copper; perform secondary processing of ferrous and nonferrous metals; refine gold; and produce gold ingots.
Light industry has a 4.4% share in the total volume of goods and services. The textile industry is one of its oldest sectors; the industry leaders are cotton, woolen, and silk fabrics and clothing. Products of OAO Visko-R in Ryazan are widely known and valued around the world. Viscose fiber produced by the factory can satisfy even the most diverse customer requirements.
The timber processing and furniture industries manufacture furniture; finishing materials; softwood and hardwood lumber, including fumed oak; and greenhouses.
The food industry is in third place with a 14% share in the total volume of goods and services. OAO Klyuchansky Distillery (Klyuchansky spirtzavod) has won numerous awards for its products, whose quality has been appraised by the world's leading tasters. The factory's Kolesnik brand of vodka won two gold medals at an international exhibition in Brussels, and its laboratory is continually working to develop new products.
Meat processing plants make up to 50 different products; and the dairy industry, up to 30 products. The Skopinsky Dairy Plant (Skopinsky molokokombinat) supplies high-quality dairy products to the regional market. It offers a range of 15 products in distinctive modern packaging. The Kasimov Confectionery Factory (Kasimovskaya konditerskaya fabrika) supplies 24 types of products to the market, including chocolates, chocolate bars, caramels, and fruit drops. OAO Ryazan Bread and Bakery Plant (Ryazankhleb) produces baked goods according to original Russian recipes.
The building material industry is in fourth place with a 9.4% share of total production. It manufactures wall panels, cement, and bricks.
Ryazan Region's geographical location, climatic conditions, and extensive drainage network favor the development of agriculture. It is considered both an industrial and agrarian region. The foundations of agriculture in the region are livestock farming and plant cultivation.
Livestock farming specializes in raising and fattening cattle and breeding pigs, sheep, and poultry. Beekeeping is also well developed in the region.
Plant cultivation specializes in growing grain (rye, wheat, oats, buckwheat, and millet), vegetables, potatoes, and fruit. Until recently, Ryazan Region was a leading producer of milk, meat, and bread. Unfortunately, today, a number of agricultural sectors have collapsed and large livestock breeding complexes have been shut down as a result of inefficient management by both federal and local managerial authorities and reckless privatization.
The Ryazan Regional Duma exercises legislative authority in the region. City, district, and regional administrations exercise executive authority. The Administration of Ryazan Region is the highest executive body.
CULTURE AND ART
Archeologists have discovered a large trading settlement dating from the Mesolithic period in Ryazan Region. They have also discovered large numbers of farming, hunting, and fishing implements and articles of the weaving, ironworking, and bronze trades, as well as silver grivnas and dirhams and Byzantine coins on the banks of the Oka River. An especially large number of caches of Arab coins have been discovered on an island between the Trubezh and Oka rivers near the village of Borki. All of this is evidence that Ryazan was one of the oldest centers of culture and art in central Russia. A settlement located on the bank of the Oka River 30 km from Ryazan gives some idea of what Starya Ryazan looked like. Since 1968, the area has been an archeological preserve, where archeological digs are conducted every year.
In Ryazan land today, there are entire complexes of various unique monuments of Old Russian and classicist architecture that are of enormous significance in the art of town planning. They create a unique and unforgettable cityscape and add individuality and color. Altogether, there are 1003 recognized historical and cultural monuments in Ryazan Region.
Over the last few years, historical and cultural sites have been carefully studied and systematically restored in order to recreate old Ryazan's former architectural character. New museum displays, concert halls, libraries, and centers for traditional folk arts and crafts have been opened in the restored buildings.
Ryazan's museums hold huge stores of cultural wealth that leave an indelible impression on visitors. They have tens of thousands of valuable exhibits reflecting the history and art of Pereslavl-Ryazansky from the time of its founding to modern-day Ryazan.
Ryazan's main point of interest is the historical and architectural museum preserve. It is a research and cultural education institution that is a state repository of material and spiritual culture. The preserve includes the Kremlin, the ancient city center with 17 historical and architectural monuments from the 15th to 19th centuries. The famous Ryazan Cathedral built by fortress architect Yakov Bukhvostov in the late 17th century is the embodiment of the old city. The cathedral marks the site of the ancient Ryazan Kremlin, which has left only its name, unless you count the earthworks. The palace of wealthy Ryazan metropolitans arose later on the site of the Kremlin, but the location has kept the name "Kremlin" right up to the present.
There is a splendid view of the Kremlin and its imposing buildings from an embankment of the Trubezh River; some of these buildings have survived almost unchanged, while many have not survived at all. The large number of architectural monuments in Ryazan Region attracts historians and archeologists from around the world.
Nativity (Khristorozhdestvensky) Cathedral, the Kremlin's oldest stone building, stores the region's State Archives. Its collection contains nearly 1.5 million files and information on events occurring in Ryazan land going back to the 15th century.
Alongside the Kremlin is another beautiful building, the Ryazan State Badge of Honor Drama Theater founded in 1787 through the initiative of the Russian poet Gavril Derzhavin. The theater in Russia has always been something more than just a simple art form. It always had a special reputation in the world of theater arts as a symbol of quality and spirituality and a source of imitation and admiration. In 1929, there were 23 theaters in Russia, including the Ryazan Drama Theater, whose company was recognized as one of the best in the country. The great Russian actors Prov Sadovsky and Mikhail Tarkhanov, renowned director Anatoly Efros, and composer Anatoly Novikov began their artistic careers here. The group has won many awards at All-Union and All-Russian theater festivals.
The names of many scientific and cultural figures renowned in both Russia and abroad are inseparably linked with Ryazan. Poet Sergei Esenin, writers Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, scientists Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Ivan Pavlov, and Ivan Michurin, and many others lived and worked here. The historical sites associated with these names are carefully preserved and have become favorite places for relaxation and cultural contacts.
One of these places is a small wooden country house built in the early 19th century with a modest memorial plaque on the front with the inscription "Academician Pavlov was born and lived here from 1849 to 1870." The museum holds annual conferences dedicated to the scientific legacy of Ivan Pavlov; and the Russian academies of science and medicine hold the Pavlov Lectures here once every five years.
Another is the Esenin State Museum Preserve in the village of Konstantinovo in Rybnovsky District. The museum collects, studies, and preserves everything connected with the name of the great Russian poet and his times.
Ryazan land has an enormous wealth of cultural traditions that are embodied in festivals, competitions, and shows. The Ryazan Regional Folk Arts and Crafts Research Center studies the territory's culture, ethnography, folklore, and folk arts.
The philharmonic was founded in a reconstructed 19th century building. A children's philharmonic and musical theater are attached to it; and various groups work in association with it, including the Ryazan State Academic Russian Folk Choir, the Paraphrase (Parafraz) Quartet of original Russian instruments, the Ryazan Regional Symphony Orchestra, the Paraskeva Pyatnitsa Choir, the Russian Song (Russkaya Pesnya) philharmonic group, the Perpetuum Mobile chamber orchestra, a philharmonic trio, and artists of the musical lecture hall.
Great emphasis is placed on arts and crafts, and production of local souvenirs is reviving. Ryazan Regional Folk Arts and Crafts Research Center has held exhibits, such as the "Traditions and the Present" exhibit of folk arts and crafts and patchwork techniques.
The Ryazan Artists' Union has existed for more than 60 years. Its members include highly trained professional artists who work in technology, mural painting, sculpture, graphic arts, and applied art. Over a period of many years, Ryazan artists have successfully participated in Russian and international exhibitions and have often been winners at artistic competitions. Five artists in the area of decorative and applied arts have won the State Prize of the Russian Federation. Art studios with an art showroom and exhibition hall have been opened in association with the artists' union.
In addition, the Oka Amateur Photography Club at the Municipal Cultural Center in Ryazan has existed since September 1977. Its members have taken part in exhibitions at all levels, from interclub to international.
The city's cultural life has a positive influence on the rising generation by introducing them to the great power of art.
Administration of Ryazan Region: